Resistance has many colors, tastes, sources, and feelings. One could simply link it with fear; however, this gives anxiety a role it might not have.
Undoubtedly, resistance can be linked with the anxiety of seeing or encountering the possibilities that are painful or difficult for us.
But resistance will not always operate directly. It often will be tied with some working of our unconscious, that is what is being perceived without being acknowledged and thus left in the unconscious. Resistance then exists in the automatism to push perception into the unconscious. From the outside, it may resemble denial of parts of reality.
Building on the work done by Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein developed a concept of the unconscious world as one being peopled by a variety of characters. For example, in play children will use them to personify differentiated parts of self or aspects of the external world. All of them represent a feeling the child is trying to deal with. The game they play may involve the sly fox, the wicked with, the good fairy, the jealous brother, or other characters. In doing so they split emotions and through the play, they seek to integrate them as a whole. The splitting is there to deal with the inner conflict resulting from having to deal with pairs of emotions like joy and sadness, love and hate, hope and despair, or acceptance and rejection.
It can be painful and difficult to accept the presence of both emotions at the same time, one of which usually represents goodness and the other badness. Splitting is a solution humans found. While children learn to deal with their inner conflict through play, it doesn’t mean that they always succeed to solve it. Thus, such conflicts may reappear in adulthood when there is a need to face the complexity of internal and external reality. The inner conflict is one playground for resistance.
Splitting will not always do the job. Consequently, humans added projections to the lot. While projection can be at the base of empathy, it can also be a defense mechanism.
Projections happen for example when a felt badness is experienced as coming from outside. In such situations, the splitting is accompanied by a projection of what is experienced as a bad feeling onto some external group, thing, or individual. “Badness” is to be seen from the eye of the beholder; it may not be common sense to see it as bad. Take for example the pair of conflicting needs and emotions than is found in the desire for independence and contrasted by the need for limits. Depending on the situation one or both can be seen as useful.
As children grow up, the desire for independence is often in conflict with the need for limitations. Consequently, parents will regularly find themselves in a place where either of both is projected onto them making them the bad person. In groups, this naturally also happens when discussing how the organization should function. One person may dislike too much independence, whereas the other may reject the presence of limitations. Both can then project the feeling associated onto others who then come to represent that feeling to the group. One will be seen as the advocate for regulations, another person will seem to constantly push for independence.
When a defense mechanism, projections, serve to deny parts of the self that are too difficult to bear and attribute these feelings to others. Confusion can also be among these feelings and contaminate a group.
Resistance thus can also result from someone splitting off a feeling and projecting it onto others. For example, when group members are recipients of a feeling of confusion, take it as their own, and neither acknowledge it nor share it.