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Defense Mechanisms

Defense Mechanisms

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Published by Joseph Eulo

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Published by: Joseph Eulo on Aug 01, 2008
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07/07/2014

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Chapter 12: Defense Mechanisms: p482
Focus Questions
What are defense mechanisms?
Defense mechanisms are the unconscious psychological processes that people
develop to relieve anxiety.
What are the most common defense mechanisms?

Among questionable forms of coping are the defense mechanism described by
Freud. These are unconscious psychological processes, mental of symbolic,
developed to relieve anxiety. They include the following:

Most Common Defense Mechanisims
Repression
(The Primary Mechanism)
The person tries to banish offending desires from conscious thought to the point of being
totally unaware of the original desires.
(Keeping distressing thoughts and feelings buried in the unconscious)
Rationalization
The person attempts to deal with a stressful situation by claiming that the stressor was of
minimal importance and may even have had beneficial effects.
(Creating false but plausible excuses to justify unacceptable behavior)
Sublimation
The personunconsciously transforms conflict and anxiety into different but related desire that
is more acceptable to society and to him/her self.
Identification
The personattempts to take on the virtues of an admired person.
(Bolstering self-esteem by forming an imaginary or real alliance with some person or group)
Reaction
Formation
The personpre tends to possess desires that are the opposite if the desires that are causing
conflict and anxiety. (Behaving in a way that is exactly the opposite of one\u2019s true feelings)
Projection
The person attributes to others the desires or thoughts that have caused personal conflict.
(attributing one\u2019s own thoughts, feelings, or motives to another)
Denial
The person attempts to dispel anxiety by refusing altogether to accept reality.
Displacement
Substitution
Sublimination
The person tries to escape the discomfort of unwanted ideas or feelings by transferring them
onto another person. (diverting emotional feelings, usually anger, from their original source to
a substitute target)
Regression
The person retreats toward behaviors that usually characterize a lower level of maturity.( a
reversion to immature patterns of behavior)
Introjection
Identifying with some idea or object so deeply that it becomes a part of that person.
One example often used is when a child envelops representational images of his absent
parents into himself, simultaneously fusing them with his own personality.
Compensation
Direct Compensation
Overcompensation

Encountering failure or frustration in some sphere of activity, one overemphasizes another.
The term is also applied to the process of over-correcting for a handicap or limitation.
Examples: (1) a physically unattractive adolescent becomes an expert dancer. (2) a youth
with residual muscle damage from poliomyelitis becomes an athlete. (3) Demosthenes.

Intellectualizatio
n
(isolation). Concentrating on the intellectual components of the situations as to distance
oneself from the anxiety provoking emotions associated with these situations.

Intellectualization is a defense mechanism where reasoning is used to block confrontation with
an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress. It involves removing one's self,
emotionally, from a stressful event. Intellectualization is often accomplished through
rationalization; rather than accepting reality, one may explain it away to remove one's self.

Fixation
Fixation in human psychology refers to the state where an individual becomes obsessed with
an attachment to another human, animal or inanimate object
Crazy Joe\u2019s Psych 101 Notes II
Prof. T.R. Tharney: PSY101 Chapter 12: pp. 1
Common Defense Mechanisms (12 of 25)
Repression: (The Primary Mechanism):

The person tries to banish offending
desires from conscious thought to the
point of being totally unaware of the
original desires.

(Keeping distressing thoughts and
feelings buried in the unconscious)

Ex. A traumatized soldier has no
recollection of the details of a close
brush with death.

Rationalization: The person attempts to

deal with a stressful situation by
claiming that the stressor was of
minimal importance and may even
have had beneficial effects.

(Creating false but plausible excuses to
justify unacceptable behavior)

Ex. a student who cheats on an
exam may rationalize the action
with the claim that everybody
cheats, which makes cheating
easier to accept.

Sublimation: The personunc onsciously

transforms conflict and anxiety into
different but related desire that is more
acceptable to society and to him/her

self.
Identification: The personattempts to take
on the virtues of an admired person.

(Bolstering self-esteem by forming an
imaginary or real alliance with some
person or group)

Ex. An insecure young man joins a
fraternity to boost his self-esteem.
Reaction Formation: The personpre tends

to possess desires that are the
opposite if the desires that are causing
conflict and anxiety. (Behaving in a

way that is exactly the opposite of
one\u2019s true feelings)

Ex. A parent who unconsciously
resents a child spoils the child
with outlandish gifts.

Projection: The person attributes to others
the desires or thoughts that have
caused personal conflict.(attribu ting
one\u2019s own thoughts, feelings, or
motives to another)

Ex. A person who does not want to
recognize his/her inadequate
tennis skills blames all bad shots
on a flawed racquet.

Denial: The person attempts to dispel anxiety
by refusing altogether to accept reality.
Displacement (Substitution and Sublimination):

The person tries to escape the
discomfort of unwanted ideas or
feelings by transferring them onto
another person. (diverting emotional

feelings, usually anger, from their
original source to a substitute target)

Ex. After failing a important exam,
a student takes her anger out on
her little brother.

Regression: The person retreats toward
behaviors that usually characterize a
lower level of maturity. ( a reversion to
immature patterns of behavior)
Ex. An adult has a temper tantrum
when he doesn\u2019t get his way.
Introjection: Identifying with some idea or

object so deeply that it becomes a part
of that person.
One example often used is when a
child envelops representational images
of his absent parents into himself,
simultaneously fusing them with his
own personality.

Compensation(Direct Compensation,
Overcompensation): Encountering failure

or frustration in some sphere of
activity, one overemphasizes another.
The term is also applied to the process
of over-correcting for a handicap or

limitation. Examples: (1) a physically

unattractive adolescent becomes an
expert dancer. (2) a youth with
residual muscle damage from
poliomyelitis becomes an athlete. (3)
Demosthenes.

Intellectualization:( isolation).

Concentrating on the intellectual
components of the situations as to
distance oneself from the anxiety
provoking emotions associated with
these situations.

Intellectualization is a defense
mechanism where reasoning is used to
block confrontation with an
unconscious conflict and its associated
emotional stress. It involves removing
one's self, emotionally, from a stressful
event. Intellectualization is often
accomplished through rationalization;
rather than accepting reality, one may
explain it away to remove one's self.

Fixation: in human psychology refers to the

state where an individual becomes
obsessed with an attachment to
another human, animal or inanimate
object.

Crazy Joe\u2019s Psych 101 Notes II
Prof. T.R. Tharney: PSY101 Chapter 12: pp. 2

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