Life skills - Defense Mechanisms

What are They?

Defense Mechanisms- are tactics developed by the ego (mind) to protect against anxiety. They may safeguard the mind against feelings and thoughts that are too difficult for the conscious mind to cope with.

Most Common Defense Mechanisms

Denial- involves situations in which people seem unable to face reality or admit an obvious truth (i.e. "He's in denial."). Denial is a refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. Drug addicts or alcoholics often deny that they have a problem, while victims of traumatic events (rape, violence) may deny that the event ever occurred.

Denial is often the refusal to accept honest opinions about abilities, looks, academic and physical perfomances because it's too emotionally painful.

Example- a person believes they are the next "American Idol". In reality, their voice is just average and that person just cannot accept reality.

Picture goes here! singer breaking windows.

Fantasy- Entire industries have sprung up to foster a growing tendency of people to remove themselves from the challenges of daily life. See escapism.

Fantasy is a type of escapism. Individuals may spend hours isolated from the ouside world doing the following:

Displacement- Ever have a bad day at school or work and then gone home and taken out your frustration on family and friends? Then you have experienced the defense mechanism of displacement. Displacement involves taking out our frustrations, feelings, and impulses on people or objects that are less threatening.

Displaced aggression- is a more combative version of displacement.. Rather than express your anger against the school bully that may inflict pain upon you, instead, you may express your anger by striking a weaker person or object that poses no threat (such as a weaker sibling or pet).

Sublimation- allows us to act out unacceptable impulses (feelings) by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. For example, a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kick-boxing or weight-lifting as a means of venting frustration.

Rationalization- involves explaining negative behavior or feelings in a logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behavior. For example, a person who is turned down for a date might rationalize the situation by saying that person was too ugly anyway, or a student might blame a poor grade on the teacher, "It's the teacher's fault", rather than their own lack of preparation. This is common,"I didn't make the football or cheerleading team beacause the coach is predjudiced"

Rationalization prevents anxiety and loss of self-esteem and self-concept. When confronted with a failure, it's common to blame failure on other people or outside forces. Examples, "If we only had more money","If my parents did not divorce","If I only had private tutoring or a personal coach".