That moment, seated in my swivel chair, swinging from side to side, admiring the decorations of my office; I mentally played back how each person I had come into contact with had expressed the repulsive nature of their Bosses, parents and superiors. They wished they had an antidote to these unpleasant behaviours by their Bosses, but, just unfortunately, it is beyond the consciousness of their superiors. It is an “unconscious demon” called Displacement.

A good employee who exudes his expertise and knowledge diligently. To this, almost all clients and coworkers would attest. However, with one slip; as fallible as the human nature is, but no natural fault of his, and his supervisor comes tumbling down on him. Truly, our perfections are not perfectly perfect after all. Your pain and argument that you have been pounded with a sledge hammer for the minute blunder is understandable, however, your superiors cannot be fully blamed; they may be oblivious of the consequence of the magnitude of their outburst. They may be oblivious of the cause of the outburst too, which is what makes their response unconscious. Perhaps, the Boss might have been infuriated already by a superior or an equivalent power (wife, in law, landlord etc.) which he couldn’t settle the score tete a tete with. You being a lesser power, he finds it convenient to vent his spleen on you.

In another circumstance, children, mostly, undeservedly suffer the wrath of their parents. Sometimes, it is not for a deed they have done, but one of the trivialities in life. It could be innocently announcing their unpaid school fees or how their taste have grown bored to the repeated rice and beans being served for dinner. Of course your preference for varieties of confections is understood. Understandably, you may be exercising your inalienable right as a child to demand what you think is due you, however, your parents charge at you furiously. Your pain is justified, but cut your parents some slack. Perhaps, they’ve had a bad day with a customer or superior at work. The response could also be a transference of disappoint from either partner. Since they couldn’t face it off with their superior or customer and the anger still boiling in them, you become the unfortunate basin which they can pour their exasperation in.

Superiors or people with authority bullying subordinates is a common practice in the world. We all might have faced it at one point in time. It could be your Boss, spouse and even the person who is advantaged of bigger muscles. We unconsciously pour our anger on the lesser power to feel good or set ourselves in a state of equilibrium by unleashing the seething fury that oscillates in our minds. The psychologist Anna Freud called this practice “DISPLACEMENT”.

At all times, we should  be conscious of how we treat people when we feel they’ve done it wrong because displacement has a rippling effect which affects the emotions of the chain of subordinates.



Kwabena Sarfo-Kantanka, Kobby is a great Psychologist with an in-depth knowledge about human nature.
He loves writing engaging articles on education, human nature and behaviour. He is committed to writing motivational articles.


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