20 April 2011
Living in this powerful authoritarian culture, common Chinese have to develop their defensive behaviors and feelings to cope with it adaptively or not. For example, every Chinese adult may have the experience of dealing with his or her leader's over-dominating orders or comments (e.g., asking employees to do some work for the leader's private needs; ordering subordinates to make his or her mobile phone be available 24 hours a day; giving some work on weekends without respect for the subordinate's private time), using a splitting way of definitely agreeable attitude on the surface and disagreeable thoughts in his or her mind. Instead of directly refusing or fighting with the leader, the latent social authoritarian rules unconsciously influence Chinese to repress their true feelings in order to achieve surface harmony in social conversation, and, at the same time, unconsciously promote the inhibition for the inner psychic need of autonomy, which may lead to more latent aggressive feeling. Hence, the authoritarian system, which is the dominating component in Chinese culture, has the function to persuade Chinese people to repress their individual wishes and sacrifice oneself to the collective or family, if the authorities find some conflicts between the individuals and the group. In my opinion, this kind of repression is not mainly about the feelings of guilt, but about fear, which means the anxiety of being abandoned or destroyed by the authorities in fantasy.
"At the same time, parts of Daoist and Buddhist beliefs may be helpful for the Chinese to repress aggressiveness and feel more peaceful, I think, at least on the surface. Different with Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism offer the philosophic and operational ways for Chinese to escape from the inner conflict and splitting feelings when they meet the powerful authoritarian social context. Instead of choosing fighting, with the help of Daoism and Buddhism, Chinese culture gave common Chinese a good way to escape and helped Chinese keep their repressed private wishes or fantasies, provide an acceptable chance to deal with their defensive feelings or repress their aggressive emotions. For example, the idea of reincarnation is a typical Buddhist belief which helps Chinese bear the suffering in his or her current life and gain the hope to get happiness in his or her next life. The basic Daoist idea of oneness, to integraate with nature, promotes lots of Chinese people to escape from their psychological conflict in their life span."
—Zhong Jie "Working with Chinese patients: Are there any conflicts between Chinese culture and psychoanalysis?"