Restorations Therapy Blog

Deflection: A Defensive Tactic

by on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Deflection is attempting to draw attention away from oneself and put that attention onto another person. All ages may engage in deflection. Children try to deflect blame when they are in trouble for negative actions by pointing out a different negative action that a sibling did. As we age, we may carry deflection into the workplace, where a coworker or manager may pass responsibility for a bad report onto one another. Deflection is about making oneself look better, or conversely, getting out of looking bad.

Deflection Can Be a Coping Mechanism

We want people to think highly of us, and no one wants to look inferior or feel unintelligent. We want people to see us as functional, dependable, and trustworthy. For some people, deflection is a coping mechanism to make sure others don’t think less of them. In the case of substance use disorder (SUD), sufferers may use deflection to take the attention off of themselves. They may blame others for their life choices, current life situation, and even for their substance use disorder.  Bringing up past mistakes of others is a common deflection tactic used to bring others down.

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Although many people use deflection to lift themselves up while putting others down, it is difficult to do that when one’s mistakes lead to negative repercussions or punishment. For example, if substance use ends up creating a negative situation in which one is arrested or incarcerated, deflection is difficult. 

Narcissism’s Role

Someone using deflection may merely want to avoid feeling and looking foolish and feel guilty if their deflection tactics cause someone else to get into trouble. On the other hand, someone may use deflection to make other people look bad on purpose. In this case, deflection is a narcissistic characteristic, where someone lacks empathy for others and needs admiration from others as much as they admire themselves. It creates a false sense of self, in which deflection helps keep this façade alive. 

Deflection and Narcissism May Lead to Substance Use 

To look as good as possible to others on the outside, it may require someone to use defense mechanisms such as deflection to paint a brighter picture of themselves. Narcissism may lead one to admire themselves so much that they excuse their terrible behaviors by deflecting attention to others around them. Substance use becomes another excuse for horrible behavior in those with narcissistic traits. Their admiration for themselves becomes a justification for their actions, no matter how negative they are, and this may be a road to substance use disorder, where excuses and deflection pave the way. It is imperative to stop deflecting and begin accepting blame for one’s own mistakes, choices, and life. 

Located in Centennial, Colorado, Restoration Therapy works with patients who are struggling with addiction, intimacy disorders, and trauma who are seeking treatment. Restoration Therapy offers individualized and group therapy, workshops, psycho-educational classes, and more to. For more information, please call us at (720) 446-658

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