Displacement Behaviors

Displacement activities occur when an animal experiences high motivation for two or more conflicting behaviours: the resulting displacement activity is usually unrelated to the competing motivations. Birds, for example, may peck at grass when uncertain whether to attack or flee from an opponent; similarly, a human may scratch his or her head when they do not know which of two options to choose. Displacement activities may also occur when animals are prevented from performing a single behaviour for which they are highly motivated. Displacement activities often involve actions which bring comfort to the animal such as scratching, preening, drinking or feeding.

Use in Science
In the assessment of animal welfare, displacement activities are sometimes used as evidence that an animal is highly motivated to perform a behaviour that the environment prevents. One example is that when hungry hens are trained to eat from a particular food dispenser and then find the dispenser blocked, they often begin to pace and preen themselves vigorously. These actions have been interpreted as displacement activities, and similar pacing and preening can be used as evidence of frustration in other situations.

Psychiatrist/primatologist Alfonso Troisi proposed that displacement activities can be used as non-invasive measures of stress in primates. He noted that various non-human primates perform self-directed activities such as grooming and scratching in situations likely to involve anxiety and uncertainty, and that these behaviours are increased by anxiogenic (anxiety-producing) drugs and reduced by anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) drugs. In humans, he noted that similar self-directed behaviour, together with aimless manipulation of objects (chewing pens, twisting rings), can be used as indicators of ‘stressful stimuli and may reflect an emotional condition of negative affect’.

to preen:
To smooth or clean (feathers) with the beak or bill.
To trim or clean (fur) with the tongue, as cats do.
To dress or groom (oneself) with elaborate care; primp

In Freudian psychology, displacement, is an unconscious defense mechanism whereby the mind substitutes either a new aim or a new object for goals felt in their original form to be dangerous or unacceptable.
A term originating with Sigmund Freud,[2] displacement operates in the mind unconsciously, its transference of emotions, ideas, or wishes being most often used to allay anxiety in the face of aggressive or sexual impulses.
Freud initially saw displacement as a means of dream-distortion, involving a shift of emphasis from important to unimportant elements, or the replacement of something by a mere allusion.
Freud also saw displacement as occurring in jokes, as well as in neuroses – the obsessional neurotic being especially prone to the technique of displacement onto the minute. When two or more displacements occurs towards the same idea, the phenomenon is called condensation (from the German Verdichtung).

The psychoanalytic mainstream
Among Freud’s mainstream followers, Otto Fenichel highlighted the displacement of affect, either through postponement or by redirection, or both.More broadly, he considered that “in part the paths of displacement depend on the nature of the drives that are warded off”.
Eric Berne in his first, psychoanalytic work, maintained that “some of the most interesting and socially useful displacements of libido occur when both the aim and the object are partial substitutions for the biological aim and object…sublimation”.

In 1957, Jacques Lacan, inspired by an article by linguist Roman Jakobson on metaphor and metonymy, argued that the unconscious has the structure of a language, linking displacement to the poetic function of metonymy, and condensation to that of metaphor.
As he himself put it, “in the case of Verschiebung, ‘displacement’, the German term is closer to the idea of that veering off of signification that we see in metonymy, and which from its first appearance in Freud is represented as the most appropriate means used by the unconscious to foil censorship”.

The aggressive drive – mortido – may be displaced quite as much as the libidinal. Business or athletic competition, or hunting, for example, offer plentiful opportunities for the expression of displaced mortido.
In such scapegoating, aggression may be displaced onto people with little or no connection with what is causing anger. Some people punch cushions when they are angry at friends; a college student may snap at his or her roommate when upset about an exam grade.
Displacement can act in a chain-reaction, with people unwittingly becoming both victims and perpetrators of displacement. For example, a man is angry with his boss, but he cannot express this so he hits his wife. The wife hits one of the children, possibly disguising this as punishment (rationalization).
Ego psychology sought to use displacement in child rearing, a dummy being used as a displaced target for toddler sibling rivalry.

Transferential displacement
The displacement of feelings and attitudes from past significant others onto the present-day analyst constitutes a central aspect of the transference, particularly in the case of the neurotic.
A subsidiary form of displacement within the transference occurs when the patient disguises transference references by applying them to an apparent third party or to themself.

Mortido is a term used in Freudian psychoanalysis to refer to the energy of the death instinct, formed on analogy to the term libido.

Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in meaning with that thing or concept.

(texto de Wikipédia)

“Em situações de conflito, os etologistas verificaram que os animais tendem a lutar ou fugir (fight or flight). Entretanto, muitas vezes, quando o animal não “decide” por um ou outro comportamento (por exemplo em conflitos entre animais da mesma espécie e do mesmo tamanho), ocorrem os chamados “comportamentos de deslocamento” (displacement behaviors). Em lugar de fugir ou lutar, o animal entrega-se a comportamentos de grooming, fazer o ninho ou buscar alimentos (Holland, 1974). Tais comportamentos de deslocamento, que surgem em situações de conflito, são tipicamente inapropriados à situação, e assim ocorrem “fora de contexto”.
É curioso notar que tais comportamentos de deslocamento ocorrem também em humanos em situações de extresse (por exemplo, em crianças que, ao fazerem exercícios de matemática, coçam a cabeça)…”

(texto do livro: Princípios e Prática em Transtornos do Espectro Obcessivo-Compulsivo)


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