In his book Praise of Escaping (“Éloge de la fuite”), physician Henri Laborit suggests the following. When a person faces an ordeal, they face three options. The first is to fight against the ordeal, the second is to do nothing and third is to flee from it.
Firstly, fighting against a challenge is a very natural behaviour. These people are not hurt by the ordeal because they turn the attack into a retaliation. But this attitude has a problem. Continuous attacks and retaliations result in a vicious cycle. An aggressive person ultimately will be stopped by someone who is stronger than them.
The second option involves not doing anything in the sense that you act as if you hadn’t been attacked by pushing down the resentment. This is the most widely accepted attitude in modern society. Scholars call this behavioural inhibition. People with this attitude have the want to punch their opponent in the face, but swallow their anger as they recognise the risk of being retaliated against and entering a vicious cycle. And so, the punch that did not land on the opponent hits themselves instead. This may even show as medical conditions such as stomach ulcers, aches, or other psychosomatic symptoms.
The third way of escaping can be done through different ways.
Chemical escape: Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, stimulants, relaxants, sleeping pills. All of these can soften or erase the pain from external attacks. By using these substances to forget everything and knocking oneself out, the ordeal will pass. However, because this kind of escape weakens your sense of reality, people who use this method lose their ability to live in the real world.
Geographical escape: Moving from one place to another endlessly. Some people shift their problems by changing jobs, friends, lovers and the places they live in. It doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, but they feel a little better and gain energy from changing the environment they are in.
Creative escape: Transforming your anger and pain into film, music, writing, painting, sculpting etc. Some people take the things they cannot dare say in the real world and have characters in an imaginary world say it instead. By doing this, they feel a sense of catharsis. People who like to watch characters in movies and books take revenge against those who have wronged them also fit into this category.
(from The Encyclopaedia of Relative and Absolute Knowledge by Bernard Werber)