There’s A Fancier Name For Fake Niceness

A particular breed of falsified collegiality is siding with the foe of a foe. This has a convenient name: pseudo-altruism.

Pseudo-altruism is a pattern of behavior used by people who have a problem in coping satisfactorily with repressed rage. Observed in both individual and group psychotherapy, it allows the discharge of unacceptable impulses through professed concern about others. This model involves the interaction of at least three people. One individual, A, unable to acknowledge his rage toward a second person, B, comes to the assistance of a third party, C, whom he is convinced has been injured by B. A attacks B or encourages C to do so. In this way A, who experiences difficulty in discharging aggression directly, finds an acceptable means of doing so. He convinces himself that his aggression is warranted by B’s behavior and that he acted solely out of concern for C’s welfare. The pseudo-altruistic pattern thus includes denial, rationalization, and at times projective identification.

Edelson SR. Pseudo-altruism. Psychiatr Q. 1981 Summer;53(2):106-9. doi: 10.1007/BF01064894. PMID: 7330125.

References

  1. Edelson SR. Pseudo-altruism. Psychiatr Q. 1981 Summer;53(2):106-9. doi: 10.1007/BF01064894. PMID: 7330125.

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