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Defense mechanisms - Sigmund Freud

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The term got its start in psychoanalytic therapy, but it has slowly worked its way into everyday language. In Sigmund Freud's topographical model of personality, the ego is the aspect of personality …

The term got its start in psychoanalytic therapy, but it has slowly worked its way into everyday language. In Sigmund Freud's topographical model of personality, the ego is the aspect of personality that deals with reality. While doing this, the ego also has to cope with the conflicting demands of the id and the superego. The id seeks to fulfil all wants, needs and impulses while the superego tries to get the ego to act in an idealistic and moral manner. What happens when the ego cannot deal with the demands of our desires, the constraints of reality and our own moral standards?


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  • 1. DefenseMechanisms Personality Theories
  • 2. Prepared By Manu Melwin Joy Research Scholar School of Management Studies CUSAT, Kerala, India. Phone – 9744551114 Mail – manu_melwinjoy@yahoo.com Kindly restrict the use of slides for personal purpose. Please seek permission to reproduce the same in public forms and presentations.
  • 3. DefenceMechanisms The term got its start in psychoanalytic therapy, but it has slowly worked its way into everyday language. In Sigmund Freud's topographical model of personality, the ego is the aspect of personality that deals with reality. While doing this, the ego also has to cope with the conflicting demands of the id and the superego. The id seeks to fulfil all wants, needs and impulses while the superego tries to get the ego to act in an idealistic and moral manner. What happens when the ego cannot deal with the demands of our desires, the constraints of reality and our own moral standards?
  • 4. DefenceMechanisms According to Freud, anxiety is an unpleasant inner state that people seek to avoid. Anxiety acts as a signal to the ego that things are not going right. Frued identified three types of anxiety: • Neurotic anxiety is the unconscious worry that we will lose control of the id's urges, resulting in punishment for inappropriate behavior. • Reality anxiety is fear of real-world events. The cause of this anxiety is usually easily identified. For example, a person might fear receiving a dog bite when they are near a menacing dog. The most common way of reducing this anxiety is to avoid the threatening object. • Moralanxietyinvolves a fear of violating our own moral principles. In order to deal with this anxiety, Freud believed that defense mechanisms helped shield the ego from the conflicts created by the id, superego and reality.
  • 5. DefenceMechanisms • Denial - Denial is an outright 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 may deny that the event ever occurred. • Repression - Repression acts to keep information out of conscious awareness. However, these memories don't just disappear; they continue to influence our behavior. For example, a person who has repressed memories of abuse suffered as a child may later have difficulty forming relationships. • Suppression - Sometimes we do this consciously by forcing the unwanted information out of our awareness, which is known as suppression. In most cases, however, this removal of anxiety-provoking memories from our awareness is believed to occur unconsciously.
  • 6. Defence Mechanisms • Displacement - Displacement involves taking out our frustrations, feelings and impulses on people or objects that are less threatening. Displaced aggression is a common example of this defense mechanism. • Sublimation - Sublimation is a defence mechanism that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviours into a more acceptable form. For example, a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kick-boxing as a means of venting frustration. • Projection - Projection is a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people. For example, if you have a strong dislike for someone, you might instead believe that he or she does not like you
  • 7. Defence Mechanisms • Intellectualization - Intellectualization works to reduce anxiety by thinking about events in a cold, clinical way. For example, a person who has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness might focus on learning everything about the disease in order to avoid distress and remain distant from the reality of the situation. • Rationalization - Rationalization is a defense mechanism that involves explaining an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behavior. For example a student might blame a poor exam score on the instructor rather than his or her lack of preparation. • Regression - When confronted by stressful events, people sometimes abandon coping strategies and revert to patterns of behavior used earlier in development. For example, an individual fixated at an earlier developmental stage might cry or sulk upon hearing unpleasant news.
  • 8. Criticisms • The theory is focused almost entirely on male development with little mention of femalepsychosexualdevelopment. • His theories are difficult to test scientifically. Concepts such as the libido are impossible to measure, and therefore cannot be tested. • Future predictions are too vague. How can we know that a current behavior was caused specifically by a childhood experience? The length of time between the cause and the effect is too long to assume that there is a relationship between the two variables. • Freud's theory is based upon case studies and not empirical research. Also, Freud based his theory on the recollections of his adult patients, not on actual observation and study of children.
  • 9. Other TA topics available on slideshare 1. Strokes - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/strokes-24081607. 2. Games People Play - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/psychological- games-people-play. 3. Structural Analysis - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/the-ego-state-model. 4. What is TA? - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/what-ta-is 5. Cycles of Development - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/cycles-of- developement-pamela-levin-transactional-analysis. 6. Stages of Cure - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/stages-of-cure. 7. Transactions - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/transactions-33677298. 8. Time Structuring - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/time-structuring. 9. Life Position - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/life-position. 10. Autonomy - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/autonomy-33690557. 11. Structural Pathology - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/structural-pathology. 12. Game Analysis - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/game-analysis-33725636. 13. Integrated Adult - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/integrated-adult. 14. Stroke Economy - http://www.slideshare.net/manumjoy/stroke-economy- 33826702.