This site is 100% ad supported. Please add an exception to adblock for this site.

Mechanisms of Defense


undefined, object
copy deck
Mastering anxiety by identifying with a powerful aggressor (such as an abusing parent) to counteract feelings of helplessness and feel powerful oneself. Usually involves behaving like the aggressor, e.g. abusing others after one has been abused oneself.
Identification with the Aggressor
Unattainable or unacceptable goals, emotion; object is replaced by one more attainable or acceptable.
Primitive mechanism in which psychic representation of person (or parts of person) is/are figuratively ingested.
Some mental representation stands for some other thing, class of things, or attribute. This mechanism underlies dream formation and some symptoms such as conversion reactions, obsessions, compulsions, with the link between the latent meaning of the sympt
Enables one to make up for real or fancied deficiencies; e.g. a stutterer becomes a very expressive writer; a short man assumes a cocky, overbearing manner.
Loss of motivation to engage in (usually pleasurable) activity avoided because it might stir up conflict over forbidden impulses, e.g. writing, learning, or work blocks or social shyness.
Something unacceptable and already done, thought, or felt is symbolically acted out in reverse (usually repetitiously) in hopes of relieving anxiety. Used in obsessive compulsiveness such as pathological hand washing.
Keystone mechanism; expressed clinically by amnesia or symptomatic forgetting serving to banish unacceptable ideas, fantasies, affects or impulses from consciousness. Motivated forgetting.
Loved or hated external objects are symbolically absorbed within self. (Converse of projection), e.g. in severe depression, unconscious unacceptable hatred is turned towards self.
Repressed urge is expressed disguised as disturbance of body function usually of sensory, voluntary nervous system as anesthesias, pain, deafness, blindness, paralysis, convulsions, tics
Unacceptable impulse, idea, act is separated from its original memory source thereby removing original emotional charge. Intellectualization-stripping the emotion from the difficult memory.
Isolation of Affect
Primitive defense--inability to acknowledge true significance of thoughts, feelings, wishes, behavior, or external reality factors which are consciously intolerable. Blocking external events from awareness.
Directing an impulse, wish, or feeling toward a person or situation not its real object, thus permitting expression in a less threatening situation; e.g. a man angry at his boss kicks the dog. Symbolic substitute.
Defense to deflect hostile aggression or other unacceptable impulses from another to self
Turning Against Self
Primitive defense – attributing one’s disowned attitudes, wishes, feelings, urges to some external object, e.g. believing spouse is angry at the kids when one is really angry oneself would be example of normal projection as opposed to paranoid delusion
Defensive mechanism of borderline personality organization which manifests as self or others being seen as ‘all good” or “all bad.” It is the process of keeping apart introjects of opposite quality, resulting in an ego weakness whereby aggression doe
Third line of defense-not unconscious. Giving believable explanation for irrational behavior motivated by unacceptable unconscious wishes or by defenses used to cope with such wishes.
A form of projection utilized by persons with borderline personality organization. There is a lack of differentiation between self & object so that the all-bad self projected on the all-bad object is experienced in such a way that the impulse (aggres
Projective Identification
Process which enables person to split mental functions in manner allowing him to express forbidden or unconscious impulses without responsibility for action either because he is unable to remember disowned behavior or because it is not experienced as his
Person adopts affects, ideas, attitudes, behaviors which are opposites of those he harbors consciously or unconsciously, e.g. excessive moral zeal masking strong but repressed asocial impulses or being excessively sweet to mask unconscious anger. Changin
Reaction Formation
A defense mechanism frequently used by persons with narcissistic personality organization which is the corollary of omnipotence. It is the split of primitive idealization. Grandiosity.
Overestimation of admired aspect or attribute of another. May be conscious or unconscious.
Partial or symbolic return to more infantile patterns of reacting or thinking. Can be in service to ego, e.g. as dependency during illness. Retreating to the last time in life when we felt safe and secure.
Directing an unconscious wish or impulse toward some person or object toward whom it is not really felt (e.g. anger at mother acted out by raping women) to avoid conscious awareness of real object (Overlap with displacement but used more broadly).
Acting Out
Instinctual drives are diverted into personally, socially acceptable adaptive channels, e.g. the sadomasochism of the surgeon
Deterioration of existing defenses.
Universal mechanism whereby person patterns self after significant other. Plays major role in personality development especially super ego development. Identification with the Love Object. Identification with the Lost Object.

Deck Info