Psychology What Are the Defense Mechanisms

Defense Mechanisms involves Acting Out, Compensation, Denial, Displacement, Repression, Suppression, Identification, Projection, Fantasy Intellectualization, Introjection, Rationalization, Reaction Formation, Sublimation and Undoing

Defense mechanism is a psychological way of a person to cope up with problems.  Normal people also use defense mechanisms unconsciously but not to the point that their perception to reality is altered.  For people with personality or mental disorders, they use their defense mechanism unconsciously by substituting their fantasy to reality.  This is the mind's ability to survive the struggle and problems that are difficult to handle.  

People use these defense or coping, mechanisms to relieve anxiety and to survive the severe depression and experienced trauma. A person can manifest many kinds of different defense mechanism and these are the following:

Acting Out

Acting out refers to repeating certain actions to ward off anxiety without weighing the possible consequences of those actions.

Compensation

Also called substitution, compensation involves trying to make up for feelings of inadequacy of frustration in one area by excelling or overindulging in another.

Denial

Person in denial protects himself from reality- especially the unpleasant aspects of life- by refusing to perceive, acknowledge, or face it.

Displacement

In displacement, the person redirects his impulses (commonly anger) from the real target (because that target is too dangerous) to a safer but innocent person. An example is the patient who yells at the nurse after becoming angry at his mother for not calling him.

Fantasy

Fantasy refers to creation of unrealistic or improbable images as a way of escaping from daily pressures and responsibilities or to relieve boredom. For instance, a person may daydream excessively, watch TV for hours on end, or imagine being highly successful when he feels unsuccessful. Doing these things makes him feel better for a brief period.

Identification

In identification, the person unconsciously adopts the personality characteristics, attitudes, values, and behavior of someone else (such as a hero he emulates and admires) as a way to allay anxiety. He may identify with a group to become more accepted by them.

Intellectualization

Also called isolation, intellectualization refers to hiding one’s emotional responses or problems under a façade of big words and pretending there’s no problem.

Introjection

A person introjects when he adopts someone else’s values and standards without exploring whether they fit him.

Projection

In projection, the person attributes to others his own unacceptable thoughts, feelings, and impulses.

Rationalization

Rationalization occurs when a person substitutes acceptable reasons for the real or actual reasons that are motivating his behavior. The rationalizing patient makes excuses for shortcomings and avoids self-condemnation, disappointments, and criticism.

Reaction Formation

In reaction formation, the person behaves the opposite of the way he feels. For instance, love turns into hate and hate into love.

Regression

Under stress, a person may regress by returning to the behaviors he used in an earlier, more comfortable time in his life.

Repression

Repression refers to unconsciously blocking out painful or unacceptable thoughts and feelings, leaving them to operate in the subconscious.

Sublimation

In sublimation, a person transforms unacceptable needs into acceptable ambitions and actions. For instance, he may channel his sex drive into sports and hobbies.

Undoing

In undoing, the person tries to undo the harm he feels he has done to others. A patient who says something bad about a friend may try to undo the harm by saying nice things about her or by being nice to her and apologizing.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal refers to growing emotionally uninvolved by pulling back and being passive.

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