Book Definition: When one acts in exact opposition to their true feelings.

In Your Own Words


  • When your actions conflict with your beliefs.
  • Being a hypocrite
  • Concealing your own thoughts and feelings with opposing behaviors

Examples/Functions

  • Someone with low self esteem becoming a bully.
  • A little boy saying he doesn't like girls because they have cooties, but the little boy truly has a crush on a girl.
  • The story Mr. Wray described: The priest who spoke out against drugs and gayness when really he was a meth addict who had sex with other men.
  • A Catholic priest who really worships the devil in his spare time.
  • A sports coach that is overwhelming and loves to criticize performance, but cannot actually perform the sport himself.
  • Speaking out against eating disorders only to conceal your own bulimia.
  • Saying you hate that dog, but pet it every time no one is watching.
  • A nun that acts out, outside of church, like partying and drinking and etc.
  • A Guy that acts and treats their family right, but is mean to his friends and everyone else.

Practice Question


1. A patient finds herself feeling personally fond of her therapist, who reminds her of her father. This is an example of the psychoanalytic process known as
a. resistance
b. reaction formation
c. regression
d. negative transference
e. transference

answer: b.

Additional Resources


  1. http://changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/coping/reaction_formation.htm