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2 3 defense mechanisms


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2 3 defense mechanisms

  1. 1. Defense Mechanisms Unit 2 Mental Health 2-2 The underlying factor in many mental health issues.
  2. 2. Defense Mechanisms • Defense Mechanisms are unconscious strategies our minds use to protect itself from anxiety by denying and distorting reality in some way. • Just as our physical body has the immune system to protect itself from foreign substances, the mind also protects its self from harmful, threatening thoughts and impulses. • Defense Mechanisms- unconscious ways our minds protect itself from anxiety by changing reality.
  3. 3. •While all defense mechanisms can be unhealthy, they can also be adaptive and allow us to function normally. •The greatest problems arise when defense mechanisms are overused.
  4. 4. Defenses may hide any of a variety of thoughts or feelings: • Anger • Fear • Sadness • Depression • Greed • Envy • Competitiveness • Passion • Admiration • Dependency • Selfishness • Grandiosity • Helplessness • Love
  5. 5. There are 3 main categories: • Primitive • Denial • Regression • Acting out • Dissociation • Compartmentalization • Projection • Reaction formation • Less Primitive/More Mature • Repression • Displacement • Intellectualization • Rationalization • Undoing • Mature • Sublimation • Compensation
  6. 6. Denial • Denial is probably one of the best known, most primitive defense mechanism. • Denial is the refusal to admit 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. • Denial functions to protect the ego from things that the individual cannot cope with. While this may save us from anxiety or pain, denial also requires a substantial investment of energy. Because of this, other defenses are also used to keep these unacceptable feelings from consciousness.
  7. 7. 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. • Behaviors associated with regression can vary greatly depending upon which stage the person is fixated at: a person fixated at the oral stage might begin eating or smoking excessively, or become verbally aggressive. A person fixated at the anal stage might result in excessive tidiness or messiness.
  8. 8. Acting Out • Acting out is performing an extreme behavior in order to express thought or feelings the person feels incapable of otherwise expressing. • For example, instead of saying, “I am really hurt or angry with you!” a person who acts out may throw an object at the person or punch a wall. • When a person acts out, it can act as a pressure release, and often helps the individual feel calmer and peaceful one again. • Self-injury may also be a form of acting-out, expressing in physical pain what one cannot stand to feel emotionally.
  9. 9. Dissociation • Dissociation is when a person loses track of time and/or person, and instead finds another representation of their self in order to continue in the moment. • People who have a history of any kind of childhood abuse often suffer from some form of dissociation. In extreme cases, dissociation can lead to a person believing that they have multiple selves. (DID) • People who use dissociation often have a disconnected view of themselves in their world. Time and their own self-image may not flow continuously. • In this manner, a person who dissociates can “disconnect” from the real world for a time, and not face a world that has negative thoughts, feelings or memories.
  10. 10. Compartmentalization • A lesser form of dissociation, wherein parts of oneself are separated from awareness of other parts and behaving as if one had separate sets of values. • An example may be an honest person who cheats on their taxes and keeps their two value systems distinct an un- integrated while remaining unconscious of the cognitive (thinking) dissonance.
  11. 11. Projection • Projection is a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and blaming them on other people. • For example, if you have a strong dislike for someone, you might instead believe that he or she does not like you. • Projection is often the result of a lack of insight and acknowledgement of one’s own motivations and feelings. • It’s always someone else causing the problem.
  12. 12. Reaction Formation • Reaction formation reduces anxiety by taking up the opposite feeling, impulse or behavior. • An example of reactions formation would be treating someone you strongly dislike in an excessively friendly manner in order to hide your true feelings. • Why do people behave this way? According to Freud, they are using reaction formation to hide their true feelings by behaving in the exact opposite manner.
  13. 13. Less Primitive, more mature: • These next D.M. are a step up from the primitive D.M. in the previous section. • Many people employ these defenses as adults, and while they work ok for many, they are not an ideal way of dealing with our feelings, stress and anxiety. • If you recognize yourself using a few of these, don’t feel bad – everybody does!
  14. 14. Repression • Repression is a well-known defense mechanism. It acts to keep information out of conscious awareness. However, these memories don’t just disappear, they continue to influence our behavior. • Example: A person who has repressed memories of abuse suffered as a child may later have difficulty forming relationships. • Repression underlies all of the other defense mechanisms • The impulses that are most likely to be repressed are sexual and aggressive impulses, because they are inherently the most threatening.
  15. 15. Displacement • Displacement involves taking out our frustration, feelings and impulses on people or objects that are less threatening. Displaced aggression is a common example of this defense mechanism. Rather than express our anger in ways that could lead to negative consequences (like arguing with our teacher), we instead express our anger toward a person or object that poses no threat (spouse, parents, children, pets). • If you have ever had a bad day at school and gone home and taken your frustration out on your family or friends, you have experienced the ego defense mechanism of Displacement.
  16. 16. Intellectualization • Intellectualization works to reduce anxiety by thinking about events in a cold, clinical way. This defense mechanism allows us to avoid thinking about the stressful, emotional aspect of the situation and instead focus only on the intellectual component. • 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.
  17. 17. Rationalization • Rationalization is a defense mechanism that involves explaining an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding true reasons for the behavior. For example, a person who is turned down for a date might rationalize the situation by saying they were not attracted to the person anyways, or a student who fails a test may blame the teaching style rather than his or her lack of real studying. • Rationalization not only prevents anxiety, it may also protect self-esteem and self, concept. When confronted by success or failure, people tend to attribute achievement to their own qualities and skills while failures are blamed on other people or outside forces. • Making something wrong sound right.
  18. 18. Undoing • Undoing is an attempt to take back an unconscious behavior or thought that is unacceptable or hurtful; • For instance, after realizing you just insulted your significant other unintentionally, you might spend the next hour praising their beauty, charm or intellect. • By “undoing” the previous action, the person is attempting to counteract the damage done by the original comment, hoping the two will balance one another out.
  19. 19. Mature Defense Mechanisms • Mature defense mechanisms are often the most constructive and helpful to most adults, but may require practice and effort to put into daily use • While primitive defense mechanisms do little to try and resolve underlying issues or problems, mature defenses are more focused on helping a person be a more constructive component of their environment. • People with more mature defenses tend to be more at peace with themselves and those around them.
  20. 20. Sublimation • Sublimation is a defense mechanism that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. • For example, a person experiencing extreme anger or frustration might take up kick-boxing as a means of venting frustration. • Refocusing such unacceptable or harmful impulses into productive use helps a person channel energy that otherwise would be lost or used in a manner that might cause more anxiety.
  21. 21. Compensation • This is a process of psychologically counterbalancing perceived weakness by emphasizing strength in other arenas. • By emphasizing and focusing on one’s strengths, a person is recognizing they cannot be strong at all things and in all areas in their lives. • For instance, when a person says, “I may not know how to cook, buy I sure can do the dishes!” they are trying to compensate for their lace of cooking skills by emphasizing cleaning skills instead. • When done appropriately and not in an attempt to over- compensate, compensation is a defense mechanism that helps reinforce a person’s self-esteem and self-image.
  22. 22. Since Freud first described the original defense mechanisms, other researchers have continued to describe other methods of reducing anxiety. Some of them include: • Affiliation – Involves turning to other people for support • Aim inhibition – The individual accepts a modified form of their original goal (Becoming a coach rather than pro athlete) • Altruism – Satisfying internal needs through helping others • Avoidance – refusing to deal with or encounter unpleasant objects or situations • Humor – Pointing out the funny or ironic aspects of a situation • Passive-aggression – Indirectly expressing anger.
  23. 23. Clear it up… • Rationalization- Making something wrong seem right. • “Who cares if I stole her money, she would just get more from her rich parents anyway.” • Projection-Associate one's own evil tendencies with others. • A selfish person thinks: "Everybody out there is selfish. No one will take care of me, but me. Therefore, I have to look out for myself."
  24. 24. Try it out… • Mark doesn’t deal with his three pack a day habit, claiming that “I’ll probably die from an accident before cancer gets me.” • Denial • After some especially frustrating and unfair criticism from her professor, Jan starts an argument with her roommate during lunch. • Displacement • Dave has no memory of his 7th grade class play which was marred by his forgetting his lines and leaving the stage in tears. • Repression • Jack explains his bad grade on the final by noting he had a long phone call from his parents the night before the test. • Rationalization • Carol uses her anger over a fight with her friend to set a school record in the 100 meter. • Sublimation
  25. 25. Try it out… • You are arrested for drunk driving several times but don’t believe you have a problem with alcohol. • Denial • You and your roommate get into an argument so you stomp off into the other room and pout. • Regression • You get really mad at your Dad but scream that he’s the one mad at you. • Projection • When you say your not angry but you really are • Reaction Formation • I always study hard for tests and I know a lot of people cheat so it’s not a big deal I cheated this time. • Rationalization
  26. 26. Activity • In a group of 2 or 3 develop a role play that you can perform in front of the class. In it demonstrate one defense Mechanism. • Both group members need to play a part. • Write down three scenarios that each show a defense mechanism. • Read your best 2 to the class and see if they can guess them. • Write down 10 different scenarios that each show a different defense mechanism. Give it to the teacher.
  27. 27. Defense Mechanisms • Primitive • Denial • Regression • Acting out • Dissociation • Compartmentalization • Projection • Reaction formation • Less Primitive/More Mature • Repression • Displacement • Intellectualization • Rationalization • Undoing • Mature • Sublimation • Compensation