Episode Four: Displacement As A Self Defense Mechanism
“Mr. Nadir. Thank you for meeting with me. I know you’re a very busy man” I said when I went to question Sameera’s husband the next day. “So can you tell me what happened that night at the dinner party?”
“Nothing abnormal. Mohanad and Amy insisted on having a dinner party for Sameera’s birthday, so we went to their house, ate, talked and left around midnight.” Nadir said, cracking his knuckles before resting both his palms on his big belly.
“I understand you brought dessert. A lemon meringue pie?”
“Of course I did. It’s my wife’s birthday. I couldn’t walk in empty handed.”
“I heard you got into a huge disagreement with the Bakery’s owner a few weeks back, right after your interrogation to be more specific.”
“It was their fault this whole ordeal happened. I told them NO STRAWBERRIES! How hard is it to follow instructions?”
“But the analysis confirmed it wasn’t the Bakery’s fault.”
“Huh? Still” Nadir shrugged, his face completely flushed.
“So what else did you do that day? Before the party I mean.”
“I went to work. Picked up the pie. Went home, showered, got dressed and then Sameera and I went to dinner….”
Three months ago….
“I can’t believe you stayed late at the office tonight. It’s my birthday. Seriously, you’ve reached a whole new level of inconsiderate!” Sameera complained as she strapped on her seat belt.
“I told you, I left the office on time, but there was a line up at the bakery! Damn it, what’s wrong with this stupid Radio?” Nadir yelled as he jolted it angrily a couple of times.
“And now you’d rather listen to the radio than talk to your wife. Nice!” Sameera crossed her arms. “You know, I never asked you to take me to Paris or buy me diamonds every two and a half seconds like Amy’s husband does. I just want you to show me you care. Once a year!”
“Let’s not forget the fact that Mohanad is a millionaire! Not that we could ever forget, he never fails to rub it in all our faces.” Nadir steered the driving wheel, yelling and cursing other drivers on the road.
“You don’t have to be a millionaire to get your wife a decent gift on her birthday.” Sameera protested.
“Am I gonna have to ruin the surprise?”
“Yes, I think you should.”
“Listen, I have a plan, but you gotta keep an open mind okay…?” Nadir smiled wickedly.
“Mr. Nadir, you recently bought a lake house, is that correct?” I asked. His wife Sameera tripped when she heard the question, and dropped a glass of the drinks tray she had come to serve. She quickly apologized, cleaned up the mess then hurried out.
“Yes, it was a late birthday gift for Sameera. I’m still paying installment, so I didn’t technically ‘buy’ it yet” Nadir tried to compose himself.
“Well, according to this title in my hand, the amount has been fully paid upfront when you bought the lake house last week.”
Nadir choked on his juice, obviously taken aback by the amount of information I had gathered on his family.
“Back to the dinner party” I continued. “You went to wash your hands in the guest….”
Nadir’s cell rang suddenly, even though he had assured me he put it on mute.
“Sorry, one sec” Nadir raised his index finger. “Hello? What? You locked yourself out? You idiot! I need those documents ASAP! Is it too much to ask for an assistant who ISN’T also a blithering MORON?” Nadir yelled into his phone before hanging up on the poor guy’s face. “I’m sorry, we’re gonna have to postpone this questioning to another time. I gotta go deal with this.”
“That’s okay, I think I got everything I need….”
That same evening…
“Lemme guess, he’s using his assistant as a self defense mechanism” Jenna, my eager assisant pointed out over dinner.
“There’s no such thing, hon.” I smiled. “No, he’s using displacement. That’s when some people take out their anger on innocent victims.”
“Say this husband has had an argument at work with a client. He drives home like a maniac, yelling and cursing and goes all hulk on his helpless wife because the meat loaf is ‘too salty’. Displacement is an unconscious self defense mechanism that shifts frustration on people or objects that are less threatening.”
“Yeah, like my brother. My whole life, I was practically his punching bag. He used to pick a fight with me every time he got detention. It wasn’t my fault his teacher despised him!”
“Probably because expressing his hostile feelings towards his teacher could have gotten him in more trouble. So to protect his inflamed ego, he took it out on you. What are sisters for, ha?” I joked.
“Not this! People who use displacement, they’re just passing the pain on to someone else. Someone who’s innocent and completely clueless. Seriously, how do ‘Displacementers’ sleep at night?”
“Sometimes, as loved ones, it’s our jobs pick up on the ‘not-so-subtle’ clues of displacement and try not to take it personally.” I leveled.
“Or maybe people who ‘displace’ their frustration should stop being so mean and evil!” Jenna crossed her arms.
“Nadir doesn’t seem evil or mean. He takes his anger out on the broken radio or his poor assistant. I think he unconsciously uses displacement because deep down he feels weak and insecure. His wife overpowers him so he needs to overpower someone else.”
“Okay so let’s recap. Amy uses ‘dissociation’ since she lives in La La Land. Her son Hamza acts out in “Angry Bird’ world. Ummm Sameera uses projection to pass her faults onto others and her husband Nadir uses ‘displacement’ as a self defense mechanism, coz he’s a wuss”
“Jenna!” I scolded.
“Sorry but it’s true. And since he obviously feels subdued under Mohanad’s piles of money, perhaps he misplaced his frustration…. Took it out on an innocent object, like I dunno… a diamond necklace?” Jenna’s eyebrows popped up.
“You’re cute.” I laughed. “It does sound plausible. But Nadir isn’t the only frustrated man in this scenario. Someone else is even more intimidated by Mohanad’s wealth.”
“His butler. Alfred….”
To be continued
Ahhhhh the prodigy of displacement.
The husband takes his frustration out on the wife (or the other way around I’m sure). The frustrated parent takes it out on the kids. The kids take it out on the timid classmates. And the timid classmates take it out on food. It’s a game called ‘pass the fury ball of rage’; a vicious circle of always hitting on the weakest links, the ones who can’t afford to fight back.
Oh my God you guys, I just realized. We all use displacement somehow and it’s not very nice!
It’s probably the number one reason behind bullying, having unexplained phobias, hundreds of shattered devices, innocent kids in time outs, rebound relationships and even obesity coz of all the binge eating. And you know what, it’s not fair. Defenseless human beings shouldn’t have to pay the price for our personal problems. Especially when they’re the ones keeping us stable. Listen to this Hadith:
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Seek among your weak ones, for you are given provision and help only because of the weak amongst you.” https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/1/272
I’m not saying you’re not allowed to get frustrated. Of course you are, you’re human. I’m just suggesting instead of using vulnerable targets as punching bags, get an ACTUAL punching bag and you know, knock yourself out. Channel the rage into something more productive like cleaning or running or even screaming into a pillow.
‘But what if I’m the victim of displacement?’ you ask.
(Oh man! I was secretly hoping you wouldn’t put me in such a predicament by asking that.)
Okay, if you find yourself a target to this specific self defense mechanism, I’m gonna have to ask you to swallow your anger and stay patient. Don’t take it personally because we both know it’s not about you. Try to soothe and understand….
Wouldn’t you want your loved ones to do the same…?
Oh yes, you would!
Lilly S. Mohsen