In Wellbeing

We all Need Defense Mechanisms

defense mechanisms

When it comes to working with difficult people and learning how to feel good about yourself, there are certain things that anyone can do. There are also things that bullies and other people do that help them cope with what they are doing. It is helpful to learn a bit about different coping and defense mechanisms and just what they are and how they work.

What is a Defense Mechanism?

The most common thing that people tell you is that you should come up with a defense mechanism to deal with the way the world works and with things that bother you. Learning just what a defense mechanism is can help you determine what your own mechanisms are and help you determine if they are helping or hurting you in the long run. Very simply put, a defense mechanism is any tick, any behavior, or any thinking pattern that is used when someone is uncomfortable or when they feel that they are being attacked.

In most cases, when someone is being attacked, either physically or mentally, they will have some sort of way to deal with what they are working against. Though defense mechanisms can help you cope with uncomfortable situations and with people bothering you, they can also hurt you in the long and short term. In some cases, defense mechanisms can give people the wrong idea about you, can make people not want to be around you, and may even be physically or mentally harmful to you. There are tons of different types of defense mechanism and learning a bit about each may help you identify what mechanism you are most likely to use when you are uncomfortable.

Projection Defense Mechanism

This is one of the most common defense mechanisms. This is often something that is associated with younger people or those that have very little or poorly controlled impulses. In this type of defense mechanism, one person misattributes their own undesired thoughts, feelings and impulses onto another person that does not have those thoughts. This will often materialize in someone claiming that another person hates them or feels a certain way about them when they do not. A good example of this is if someone does not like another individual, they will then attribute that same feeling to another person even if they do not feel that way to make themselves feel or look better. This is fairly common in younger people and in children as mentioned before and often leads to groups of people acting one way or another because of what someone else has said.

This is often used when the person that experiences the initial feeling does not feel comfortable with having those feelings. For example, if you are in a relationship one partner may claim that they hate it when their spouse flirts with other people when in fact the angry partner is the one doing the unacceptable behavior. This is a very primitive and primal defense mechanism which is what makes it so common in children and young adults but also highly likely in all people.

Ego Defense Mechanisms

In Freudian theory there are a few different mechanisms that are possible; the ego mechanism is the most common. Defense mechanisms are often in place to help the ego cope with any torment or anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Ego based defenses are wide and varied and knowing a bit about a few is a great way to see if you use these mechanisms in everyday life. Denial is the first and most common ego based defense mechanism. With this mechanism, the individual denies reality.

In most cases, this means that the person being tormented or annoyed refuses to acknowledge that it is happening. This is the easiest way to deal with things that are painful or that bother you. With this type of mechanism, most people will ignore things that bother them in favor of focusing on things that make them happy. While this in and of itself is not all that dangerous, it does make it far harder to deal with issues and with things that should be dealt with rather than being pushed to the side.

Another example of Freud defense mechanisms is of course regression. This means reverting to an earlier stage of development to deal with unacceptable thoughts or impulses. While this may seem like something that only children do, it is in fact something that many people use to deal with issues when they arise. Rather than simply understanding that something is wrong and dealing with it, they will instead try to act as if they are stuck in an earlier stage of development. This is very common in children but is also common in adults. This can be seen when a child has an impulse that is not accepted and instead of owning up to it, they start to cry like a baby or act like a younger child to avoid having to deal with it.

Acting out is also a very common defense mechanism. This is just what it seems, those that have unacceptable impulses or that are being attacked verbally will instead of dealing with the issues, will instead fight back and act out in ways that are harmful to the people around you and to yourself. This is something that is more common in adults and young adults that have higher levels of stress and aggression to deal with on a daily basis. This can be seen in a few different instances. Say for example that a young lady is being told by her parents that she should not date the person she is with, instead of talking to them and seeing why they do not like him, she will instead elope or run off with him to make them angry and to deal with the issues she has.

Defense Mechanisms List

Here is a brief list of some common defense mechanisms:

  • Denial
  • Regression
  • Acting Out
  • Dissociation
  • Compartmentalization
  • Projection
  • Reaction Formation
  • Repression
  • Displacement
  • Intellectualization
  • Rationalization
  • Undoing
  • Sublimation
  • Compensation

These are all fairly common and can be found in any psychology journal or text book. These are often seen in many individuals and are often not seen as one defense mechanism being the only one present. In most cases, there will be one or more defense mechanism present that works with one another in different times and in different instances that can help a person deal with things that make them uncomfortable.

Displacement Defense Mechanism

Taking a closer look at a defense mechanism that is fairly common; the displacement defense mechanism is by far one of the most common and can cause the most damage to a person and to others around them. This is the case in which any issue or feeling that one has is instead of being directed at the person causing the feeling, it instead directed at another. This is a very common defense mechanism and allows the person to vent their frustration and anger without actually confronting the person that is causing the feelings.

In this case, most people will get angry at an individual, then will instead of confronting the person that made them feel that way, they will instead focus on others. This can be seen in relationships. In many cases, someone that is in a romantic relationship will be angry at their partner. Instead of telling their partner and risking their won relationship, they will instead focus their issues on a friend. Another example may be if you are having trouble with your boss at work. Rather than telling your boss you are angry, they will instead deflect and act angry toward their friends and family. This is a very common mechanism and is often not all that hard to fall into.

The easiest way to keep from using this type of mechanism that can ultimately cause friendships to deteriorate and can cause issues at home, is to tell people how you feel and work to find constructive ways to do so. Knowing a thing or two about defense mechanisms definition and defense mechanisms examples is the best way to see if you are in fact using these mechanisms instead of dealing with what is bothering you.

Are Defense Mechanisms Dangerous?

The answer to this question is a bit harder than you might imagine. In most cases, this is a way that your own mind has found to deal with things that are difficult and that may make you feel uncomfortable. This is in some ways healthy and does help to keep your mind from becoming overwhelmed and ultimately breaking down. Though these are present in all people no matter age and station, they can also be a bit dangerous and detrimental in some cases.

If someone uses defense mechanisms their entire life instead of dealing with the issues, it can cause a great deal of trouble. Though you should have some mechanisms in place to make life easier, you should never rely on these mechanisms to keep you happy or contented entirely.

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