MENTAL DEFENSE MECHANISMS (ADAPTIVE COPING PROCESSES

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Defense Mechanisms or Coping Mechanism -are unconscious, intrapsychic adaptive processes to cope with anxiety and resolve emotional conflict -are acquired during the development of the personality as an attempt to defend itself, establish compromises between conflicting impulses and allay inner tensions. Characteristics of Defense Mechanism (1) it is automatic (2) it is not defense mechanism that is pathological but it is the frequency of its use (3) used by both mentally healthy and mentally ill individuals Types of Defense Mechanisms • Compensation- overachievement in one area to offset real or perceived deficiencies in another area -covering up for a weakness by overemphasizing -“making-up” Example: a homely school girl attempts to impress her peers by making straight A’s • Conversion- unconscious expression -turning psychological/emotional conflicts into physical symptoms Example: a husband suddenly develops impotence after his wife discovers he is having an affair with his secretary • Denial- unconscious refusal to face reality Example: “I am not an addict” • Displacement- unconsciously transfer of unacceptable feeling, emotion or reaction, to less threatening object or person Example: a person who is mad at the boss yells at his or her spouse • Dissociation- unconscious separation of painful feelings or emotions from an unacceptable idea, situation or object Example: Amnesia that prevents recall of yesterday’s auto accident • Fixation- stuck in a certain stage of development Example: lack of clear sense of identity as an adult • Fantasy- conscious distortion of unconscious feeling or wishes - is likened to make-believe and daydreams. Wishes and desires are imagined as fulfilled • Identification- a conscious or unconscious attempt to model oneself after a respected person Example: nursing student becoming a critical care nurse because this s the specialty of an instructor she admires

• Introjection- accepting another person’s attitudes, beliefs and values as one’s own Example: college student follows his parents’ instruction to abstain from casual sex • Intellectualization- using only logical explanations without feelings or an affective component to justify unacceptable behavior or feelings Example: person shows no emotion expression when discussing serious car accident • Isolation- cutting of or blunting of an unacceptable aspect of a total experience • Projection- unconscious blaming of unacceptable inclinations or thoughts on an external object - blames other for wrong doing; looks for scapegoat Example: a student was late and blames the alarm clock for failing to alarm • Rationalization- excusing own behavior to avoid guilt, responsibility, conflict, anxiety or loss of self respect -attempts to make or prove that one’s feeling or behavior is justifiable Example: man says he beats his wife because she doesn’t listen to him • Reaction Formation- a conscious behavior that is exact opposite of an unconscious feeling Example: person who despises the boss tells everyone what a great boss he is • Regression- returning to an earlier level of development in the face of stress Example: man pouts like a four year old if he is not the center of his girlfriend’s attention • Repression- unconscious forgetting of painful ideas, events and conflicts Example: a woman has no memory of the mugging she suffered yesterday • Resistance- overt or covert antagonism toward remembering or processing anxietyproducing information Example: person attends court ordered treatment for alcoholism but refuses to participate • Suppression- conscious forgetting unacceptable thought but able to recall at will Example: a woman tells a friend she cannot think about her son’s death right now • Substitution- replacing the desired gratification with one that is more readily available Example: woman who would like to have her own children opens a day care center • Sublimation- channeling instinctual drives into acceptable activities Example: person goes for a 15 minute walk when attempted to eat junk foods • Symbolization- less threatening objects is used to represent another • Undoing- feeling guilty for doing something—showing true feeling but regret after Example: after spanking her son a mother bakes his favorite cookies