Undoing is a defense mechanism proposed by Sigmund and Anna Freud in which an unpleasant thought or action is blotted out from consciousness.
Undoing differs from – or could be seen as a subtype of – repression because negativity is repressed through obsessive ritual activity.
Lady Macbeth‘s repeated hand washing “Out, damned spot!” after the murder of King Duncan in Act V of Macbeth could be taken as a loose literary example of undoing.
It’s loose because she still talks about blood, death and hell during her late-night washing ritual. In short, she goes a little off base in an attempt to deal with her guilt and anxiety.
Recent psychological studies suggest that undoing can be brought about by replacing negativity with positive emotions.¹
Related Posts » Obsession