During a very crucial press conference, Mehbooba Mufti, sharing Dias with the union Home Minister, straightens her headgear, annoyingly, every now and then. As she seems to be using the comforter excessively it becomes obsessively persisting with her (as a tic) even when it's not called for. There's nothing wrong with the headgear. It's perfectly secure before she begins fiddling with it. So the function of her actions can't be labeled as true 'costume-adjustment'. The CM is performing displacement action and characteristically she's probably not even conscious that she's doing it. All she knows is that she wants very much to jump into the press conference, but at the same time is very scary and would also like to flee the conference and never return. The inner conflict makes it very difficult for her simply to sit still and wait calmly. She's strongly aroused but for the moment can do nothing about it. She can't convert her arousal into major actions—she can't march into the question-answer session before she's required to, neither can she dash to the exit and escape.
Trapped between these two primary solutions to her conflict Mehbooba reacts by filling up the behaviour void with irrelevant trivia. The hapless lady is so keyed up for action that any action, no matter how meaningless in its own terms, is more acceptable than gross action. Now look at the Home Minister ensconced along with her on the dais. He exhibits no such trivial actions. He's calm and serene and attends only to the primary actions in this precarious situation. For he's politically dominant (and socially detached), he looks above conflict or outside it. Such a person might be a hegemonic/tyrant or tycoon, a saint or a mystic, an eccentric or a psychotic, but he'll certainly not be typical of the vast majority of human beings. Displacement activities, the small, seemingly irrelevant movements made during moments of inner conflict/frustration become an important signal, revealing to the onlookers the thwarted urges of the fidgeter.
Most of us, as we go about our business, will sooner or later succumb to the need of fidget —to perform small, trivial acts that are being displaced from their usual functional contexts and injected into quite an alien behavioural stalemate of contradictory urges. This aspect of displacement activity leads us to have our actions unconsciously selected so as to mask the underlying turmoil into a number of distinction social practices. Fidgeting may be tailored to the special occasion in an unconscious attempt to make it look less irrelevant. A tense aeroplane passenger may repeatedly check his tickets, take out mobile and then play with it, again and again, rearrange hand-baggage , make sure his wallet is in place, drop things and pick them up again and generally give an impression that he's making vital last minute checks.
Seated in a corner of a lounge is a person apparently calm and relaxed. He's smoking a cigarette. He's employing the multi-tap-on-the-ashtray device. It's so inconspicuous that it hardly causes a dent in his image of the sophisticated relaxation. But there's no ash on the cigarette he's tapping so persistently on the edge of the ashtray. In its own terms the activity is meaningless—only as a Displacement Activity does this trivial occupation has any significance. The very act of smoking may increase or decrease not with any narcotic nicotine need but with the varying tensions in the day. The smokers have an enormous edge over the non-smokers during moments of stress and actually create the impression that all their fiddling and fidgeting are really part of a nicotine-pleasure and therefore a sign of enjoyment rather than an inner conflict reaction.
In a social engagement, we're slightly uncertain of ourselves and concerned about social performance during the encounter. These functions are riddled with displacement-interjections like 'displacement-grooming', 'displacement-tidying' and 'displacement-drinking' or 'displacement-eating' etc. All these actions aren't fulfilling their primary functions but they help ease tension by keeping the group occupied during the initial stages of the social encounter. 'Displacement-yawning' when bored or frustrated seems to be almost universal for mankind. It's a low intensity form of 'displacement-sleeping'. Soldiers fighting wars may experience an almost overwhelming desire to sleep at the malingering or true exhaustion. As soon as they're actually attacking they're fully awake. But just at the moment of launching the attack, there's a sudden powerful feeling of sleepiness.
Personal displacement habits may include chewing gum before a crucial match; sucking spectacles with a handkerchief before answering a difficult question at a committee meeting; the actress twiddling a wisp of hair or browsing through her cell phone; the school boy biting his nails; the lecturer repeatedly re-aligning his lecture on the lectern; the bald-headed thirty-something moving hand to groom his mock hear. Tic and displacement movements draw a thin borderline. Sudden twitches of whole muscle groups, movement or as sounds, like clearing the throat or making grunting noises, nose wrinkling, facial grimaces, eye blinking, clucking, sniffing, chirping, shrugging the shoulders, or abdominal tensing or toe crunching are all tics. The actual tic may be felt as relieving tension or sensation, similar to scratching an itch A tense Omar Abdullah, when he balloons up his mouth, during a lecture, experiences a tic. The rhythmic repetition of his act renders it increasingly familiar and 'safe'.