Psychological resistance or resistance is a psychological term originally used by Sigmund Freud to refer to the patient’s blocking of memories from conscious memory during psychoanalysis. This is a phenomenon often encountered in clinical practice when patients directly or indirectly resist changing their behavior or refuse to discuss, recall, or think about potentially clinically significant experiences.
Resistance is essentially an unconscious reluctance to open our consciousness to the inner truth that exposes our hidden involvement in emotional and behavioral problems. Ordinary people, even the most intelligent among us, can be surprisingly limited by their resistance to seeing and overcoming hidden weaknesses, while people with borderline and mental disorders can be remarkably resistant to knowledge and strategies that could help them become healthy.
Resistance is an aspect of human nature that not only creates an internal barrier but also drives people to act against their interests. Under the influence of such resistance, we refuse to avoid our negative emotions, change our bad habits, initiate plans and strategies for self-actualization, and open our minds to a more objective examination of our perceptions and beliefs.
Sigmund Freud noted that psychoanalysts invariably encounter “stubborn resistance” from their patients. The deeper the analysis, the greater the resistance. In mythology, resistance and other emotional problems are represented by many monsters, dragons, and other vile creatures that intend to prevent the heroes from fulfilling their destiny.
This is why people can be so resistant to new ideas. Insecure or neurotic people, instead of knowing themselves internally through feelings of, say, goodness and honesty, tend to focus on ideas and beliefs that support their inner defenses. New ideas that challenge their old ones can strike at the fabric of their identity and threaten to undermine it. The idea that we are very willing to cling to negative emotions is one such new idea, it’s not “new” per se, but it’s new to most people.