types of defense mechanisms : types of defense mechanisms Definition of defense mechanism (1): Definition of defense mechanism (1) They are psychological mechanisms aimed at reducing anxiety. They were first discussed by Sigmund Freud as part of his psychoanalytic theory and further developed by his daughter, Anna Freud . Alfred Adler and others also identified additional mechanisms. Often unconscious , they are used to protect an individual from psychological pain or anxiety. Definition of defense mechanism (2): While such mechanisms may be helpful in the short term, alleviating suffering that might otherwise incapacitate the individual, they can easily become a substitute for addressing the underlying cause and so lead to additional problems. Definition of defense mechanism (2) Definition of defense mechanism (3): Definition of defense mechanism (3) The solution, therefore, is to address the underlying causes of the pain these mechanisms are used to defray. The ideal, however, would be for individuals to grow and live in a healthy psychological environment, in a society that cares for and nurtures each person, so that the use of these defense mechanisms is not necessary 1.Repression: 1.Repression Repression is the unconscious blocking of unacceptable thoughts, feelings and impulses. The key to repression is that people do it unconsciously, so they often have very little control over it. “Repressed memories” are memories that have been unconsciously blocked from access or view. Repression (2): Repression (2) But because memory is very malleable and ever-changing, it is not like playing back a DVD of your life. The DVD has been filtered and even altered by your life experiences, even by what you’ve read or viewed. 2.Projection: 2.Projection Projection is the misattribution of a person’s undesired thoughts, feelings or impulses onto another person who does not have those thoughts, feelings or impulses. Projection is used especially when the thoughts are considered unacceptable for the person to express, or they feel completely ill at ease with having them. Projection(2): Projection(2) For example, a spouse may be angry at their significant other for not listening, when in fact it is the angry spouse who does not listen. Projection is often the result of a lack of insight and acknowledgement of one’s own motivations and feelings. 3. Displacement: 3. Displacement Displacement is the redirecting of thoughts feelings and impulses directed at one person or object, but taken out upon another person or object. People often use displacement when they cannot express their feelings in a safe manner to the person they are directed at. Displacement(2): Displacement(2) The classic example is the man who gets angry at his boss, but can’t express his anger to his boss for fear of being fired. He instead comes home and kicks the dog or starts an argument with his wife. The man is redirecting his anger from his boss to his dog or wife. Naturally, this is a pretty ineffective defense mechanism, because while the anger finds a route for expression, it’s misapplication to other harmless people or objects will cause additional problems for most people. 4. Reaction formulation: 4. Reaction formulation Reaction Formation is the converting of unwanted or dangerous thoughts, feelings or impulses into their opposites. For instance, a woman who is very angry with her boss and would like to quit her job may instead be overly kind and generous toward her boss and express a desire to keep working there forever. Reaction formulation(2): Reaction formulation(2) She is incapable of expressing the negative emotions of anger and unhappiness with her job, and instead becomes overly kind to publicly demonstrate her lack of anger and unhappiness. 5. Regression: 5. Regression Regression is the reversion to an earlier stage of development in the face of unacceptable thoughts or impulses. For an example an adolescent who is overwhelmed with fear, anger and growing sexual impulses might become clingy and start exhibiting earlier childhood behaviors he has long since overcome, such as bedwetting Regression(2): Regression(2) An adult may regress when under a great deal of stress, refusing to leave their bed and engage in normal, everyday activities. 6. Denial: 6. Denial Denial is the refusal to accept reality or fact, acting as if a painful event, thought or feeling did not exist. It is considered one of the most primitive of the defense mechanisms because it is characteristic of early childhood development. Denial(2): Denial(2) Many people use denial in their everyday lives to avoid dealing with painful feelings or areas of their life they don’t wish to admit. For instance, a person who is a functioning alcoholic will often simply deny they have a drinking problem, pointing to how well they function in their job and relationships.