Do Your Defense Mechanisms Defend You?
What are Defence Mechanisms?
Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological procedures used to protect a person from anxiety induced by unwelcome thoughts or feelings. For many of us, each event that creates uncertainty activates an unconscious defense mechanism that assists us in dealing with negative emotions. They are not necessarily harmful; they might help people deal with difficult situations or redirect their efforts more efficiently. They become harmful, however, when taken in excess or over an extended period.
The idea originated with Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna. Freud’s theory has been difficult to objectively evaluate, and his methods are no longer routinely utilized in treatment. Nonetheless, his theories aided the development of psychology, and some of his concepts, such as defense mechanisms, are still relevant today. Recognizing when a patient uses a defensive strategy, such as projection, can be a useful catalyst in the therapeutic process.
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How Do Defense Mechanisms Work?
According to Sigmund Freud’s personality paradigm, the ego is just the personality component that interacts with reality. While doing so, the ego must also deal with the id and superego’s competing demands.
The Id is the component of the psyche that attempts to satisfy all desires, needs, and urges. The id is the most fundamental aspect of our personalities, and it is unconcerned with social acceptability, morality, or even the actuality of satisfying our desires and needs.
The Superego is the part of the psyche that tries to encourage the ego to act morally and idealistically. All of the internalized concepts and values we learn from our parents, other family members, religious influences, and society are assimilated into the superego.
According to Freud, anxiety is an unpleasant psychological feeling that individuals want to avoid. Anxiety alerts the ego to the fact that things aren’t going as planned. As a result, the ego engages in some form of protective strategy to assist alleviate these anxious sensations which are then called Defense Mechanisms.
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Types of Defense Mechanisms:
Projection: Attributing one’s unwanted emotions or desires to another. For example, if a bully constantly mocks a student for experiencing anxiety, the bully may be projecting his low self-esteem onto the other person.
Denial: Refusing to recognize or acknowledge actual truths or experiences that are stressful. For example, someone suffering from a substance addiction disorder is unable to accurately assess his position.
Repression: Preventing painful thoughts from accessing awareness, as in a trauma sufferer blocking out a traumatic experience.
Regression: Reverting to previous developmental stage behaviour or feelings.
Rationalization: Justifying a mistake or troubling emotion with seemingly rational arguments or justifications.
Displacement: Changing the overall focus of an emotional reaction away from the intended receiver and toward someone else. For example, if a boss yells at an employee and the employee does not respond, the employee may later snap at her spouse.
Reaction Formation: Behaving or expressing feelings that are opposed to one’s genuine feelings. For example, a man who is anxious about his manhood may act violently.
Sublimation: Channeling sexual or unwanted urges via a functional outlet, such as employment or even a hobby.
Intellectualization: Concentrating on the logical rather than the emotional ramifications of a situation For example, if a roommate moves out abruptly, the other person may undertake a rigorous financial analysis rather than communicating their sad feelings.
Compartmentalization: Separating aspects of one’s life into distinct categories to avoid clashing feelings.
Humor: A primarily adaptive technique to help us to cope with tense or stressful situations.
Somatization: It occurs when the internal conflicts between the drives of the id, ego, and superego take on physical characteristics.
Wishful thinking: Used to avoid confronting unpleasant truths. A football fan may believe that their team’s deteriorating performance will suddenly turn around and win all of the new games.
Splitting: An individual who is split may use an “either-or” approach when judging their surroundings. They tend to regard things as either right or bad, with little possibility for negotiation or a medium ground.
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How can parents address a child’s defense mechanisms?
It may be important to analyze a child’s intentions to see whether disruptive or unpleasant behaviour is a protective tactic used to mask difficult feelings. A 5-year-old, for example, may start acting out after the birth of a new baby. His wrath might be hiding his sadness over feeling displaced by the new baby. Instead of punishing a child, caregivers should simply talk to the kid about the transition and balance their attention between the two whenever possible. The ability of a child to accept and overcome adversity will contribute to his or her development into a well-adjusted adult.
How are defense mechanisms addressed in therapy?
When a person in counselling deploys psychological defenses, the therapist has a chance to explore those patterns with the client. A therapist, for example, could work with a client who denies having a drug issue or with a client who appears to project their fears onto their spouse. These episodes of self-deception can serve as an invitation to address underlying issues that may assist the patient in moving ahead.
The masks we wear are simply veils that we have chosen to hide behind to get our way or to demonstrate how we are reacting to the powers and forces that seem to influence us from the external world. They are part of our self-image, and in some cases, the mask is nothing more than a protective device, a defence mechanism.
– John Randolph Price
Through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, our counsellors/therapists at www.ganeshaspeaks.com can identify and modify your ingrained Defense Mechanisms.
The right and healthy defence mechanisms can help you navigate through any problem whatsoever in life.