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A Text Book of Psychology for Nurses – Unit VII
Omprakash Swami (Author) - Associate Professor, Mahatma Gandhi Nursing College, Jaipur
DEFENCE MECHANISM/MENTAL MECHANISM
Definition: when an individual is faced with problem,
difficulties or failure, he employs certain way or device to
achieve health, happiness and success. These are called
defence mechanism. Defence mechanism enables a
person to resolve conflict and reduce the stress and
anxiety.
Defence mechanism can be divided into successful
and unsuccessful mechanisms as given below:
Successful unsuccessful
Repression Suppression
Rationalization Reaction Formation
Intellectualization Displacement
Compensation Denial
Substitution Isolation
Sublimation Projection
Regression
Conversion
Fixation
Fantasy
Introjections
Identification
01. Repression
According to Freud, repression is basic to all other
forms of defence mechanism. Repression refer to the
process by which an individual strives to keep
unacceptable, painful and anxiety provoking need, urges
and feelings associated with them in the unconscious
layer of the mind. When we cast a discomforting idea
deliberately out of our mind, we called it suppression.
Suppressed material is easily recalled and it available in
the conscious mind. When this process takes places
unconsciously, we call it repression.
Example: a child may feel angry with his mother
because she had punished him. When he feel too guilty
about his anger, he may repress it and may still be
unconsciously angry. It will be happened when the
accidentally breaking of his mother favourite thing or
bed wetting by the child..
02. Rationalization
In this defence mechanism we make excuses giving a
reason different from the real one for what we are doing.
it is a defence mechanism in which person justified his
failure by using the socially unacceptable behaviour by
providing socially approved reasons.
There are generally two types of rationalization. These
are:
a. Sour Grapes : When an individual fails to attain his
goals after repeated efforts, he may say that he did not
want it any way. He adjusts to the frustration by denying
the existence of any desire in him to attain the original
goals. examples: A fox which could not reach the grapes
and out of sheer frustration declares that grapes are
sour. Or a boy when he fails to qualify himself in the
school football team rationalizes his failure by saying
that he does not want to play
B. Sweet Lemon: When an individual is not satisfied
with his achievement or the situation he is in, then he uses
this form of rationalization. The individual who uses this
method tries to convince himself that what he has is
exactly what he wants. Examples: A teacher before
joining the teaching profession tried his best to get a
better job than teaching but when he fails, he accepts
teaching as a very good profession and thus rationalizes
himself.
03. Intellectualization
It is related to rationalization, it is the far from an
emotional or threatening situation by talking or thinking
about it in intellectual term. A nurse, doctor and
paramedical worker cannot afford to become emotionally
attached to each patient. So the employed the defence or
free from the emotional attachment by giving brief
statement regarding the situation.
Examples a patient who is serious ill, calmly tell the
family member rather than saying I am so sorry.
A Text Book of Psychology for Nurses – Unit VII
Omprakash Swami (Author) - Associate Professor, Mahatma Gandhi Nursing College, Jaipur
This is helpful defence mechanism to separate yourself
from professional crises and anxiety
Another examples: when a person who has just been
diagnosed with a terminal ill might focus on the disease
information in order to avoid distress and remain distant
from the reality of the situation.
04. Compensation
When we replace a loss or to make up for a defect.
Just as nature compensate for disease in our bodies when
a blind person develops extraordinarily keen hearing. So
we develop personality traits to compensate for various
inadequacies. When people are frustrated in their desires
in one direction, they compensate for it by attaining
success in other direction.
Example: A student who fails in his studies may
compensate by becoming the college champion in
athletics. A plain girl who cannot compete with her more
beautiful sisters may compensate by studying hard and
come first in her class.
05. Substitution
A mechanism in which original goals are substituted
by others. For example, a student who has not been
accepted for admission in a medical college may satisfy
herself by admission in nursing courses.
06. Sublimation
It is the channeling of a strong and socially
unacceptable drive into a form that is acceptable to
society. In the sublimation sexual desire are very
important.
For example: An unmarried women show
repressed sexual desires, by working as a nursery school
teacher.
A young person who has fail in love may start
write poetry about love.
Unsuccessful defence mechanism
1. Suppression
It is a intentional pushing away from awareness of
certain unwelcome idea, memories and feelings. We push
backward according to our wish and remember these
ideas we required.
For example: a student’s worry about study so that
They postponed weakened programme.
2. Reaction formation: it is a strongly rejected or oppose
to other. Such a tendency is called as reaction formation.
Example: the mother of an unwanted child may feel
guilty and so become over-indulgent or over protective
of the child to assure herself that she is a good mother
People who extreme friendly, over polite have a
unconscious feeling of anger and hatred towards many
people.
3. Displacement
Means to replace the actual object of feelings which are
often aggression, with another object.
Examples: A person who is angry with his boss, but
cannot show it for fear of losing the job may fight his
wife and children on return from the office or kick his
dog.
4. Denial
Denial is the unaccepted of real thing, we use denial
when death in the family, serious illness or life
threatening situation. A people often practice denial, at
least for a period of time, when he knows he has a fatal
illness but cannot accept his death.
Examples : very old people will not easily accept that
their mental and physical powers are on the decline as
they advance in age.
, backward students do not find any reliability in the
intelligent tests.
Denial is quite harmful if practiced in moderation, but
can lead to serious difficulties in health and life style if
practiced to excess.
5. Isolation
Separation of the idea of an unconscious impulse from
its appropriate affect, thus allowing only the idea and not
the associated affect to enter awareness, as in the ability
to express traumatic experience without the associated
disturbing emotion, with passage of time.
A Text Book of Psychology for Nurses – Unit VII
Omprakash Swami (Author) - Associate Professor, Mahatma Gandhi Nursing College, Jaipur
For example, a solider humorously describes how he
was seriously wounded in the war.
6. Projection:
Projection relives tension and anxiety by transferring
the responsibility for unacceptable idea, impulses, wishes
or thoughts to another person.
For example: student who believe that everybody cheat
in examinations may also cheat in a same way.
The surgeon who did the mistake in operation theatre
may insist that it happened because the theatre nurse
and ward boy did their task badly.
7. Regression
Some people do not meet the problem of life, its strains
and stress, in a mature way. They revert and retreat to an
infantile or childish level of behaviour, and thus avoid the
painfulness of suffering a conflict or tension. This mode
of behaviour is called regression. It always implies a form
of behaviour which is less mature then what is expected
of the individual
Example, a student may fall ill just to avoid such
frustrating situations as an examination or appearance
before a group. He may suffer from stomach trouble or
vague aches or headache. These modes of behaviour
save the student from facing the real problems
8. Conversion
A mental mechanism in which an emotional conflict is
expressed as a physical symptom for which there is no
demonstrable organic basic.
Example: A student very anxious about his exams may
develop a headache.
9. Fantasy or Daydreaming
Normally everyone uses imagination in some form to
fulfill the shortcoming of his life. Thus fantasy is a
common method of adjustment that reduces conflict and
tension. Day dreaming is another frequently used form of
fantasy.
Example: Teenagers fantasize about adventure,
romance and being successful in future while old people
relive their youth in their fantasies. Excessive
daydreaming may result in the loss of contact with fact
of life and may lead to a psychotic disorder called
schizophrenia
10. Identification
It is an adjustment mechanism which enables one to
achieve satisfaction from the successes of other people,
groups or organization.
Example: Boys often identify themselves with their
father, and girls with their mothers. Student often identify
themselves with their favourite teachers and try to modify
their behaviour accordingly.
Implication of Ego Defence Mechanism:
 The defense mechanism has a profound impact on the
development of personality.
 The idea of a defense mechanism is a psychological
approach to coping with a particular problem or
situation.
 It is a construct of the conscious in dealing with an
issue that potentially resides in the sub-
consciousness.
 We use defense mechanisms to protect ourselves
from feelings of anxiety or guilt, which arise because
we feel threatened, or because our id or
superego becomes too demanding.
 We all have thoughts, feelings, and memories that
can be difficult to deal with. In some cases, people
deal with such feelings by utilizing what are known
as defense mechanisms.
 These defense mechanisms are unconscious
psychological responses that protect people from
threats and things that they don't want to think about
or deal with.

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Defence Mechanism(Mental Mechanism)

  • 1. A Text Book of Psychology for Nurses – Unit VII Omprakash Swami (Author) - Associate Professor, Mahatma Gandhi Nursing College, Jaipur DEFENCE MECHANISM/MENTAL MECHANISM Definition: when an individual is faced with problem, difficulties or failure, he employs certain way or device to achieve health, happiness and success. These are called defence mechanism. Defence mechanism enables a person to resolve conflict and reduce the stress and anxiety. Defence mechanism can be divided into successful and unsuccessful mechanisms as given below: Successful unsuccessful Repression Suppression Rationalization Reaction Formation Intellectualization Displacement Compensation Denial Substitution Isolation Sublimation Projection Regression Conversion Fixation Fantasy Introjections Identification 01. Repression According to Freud, repression is basic to all other forms of defence mechanism. Repression refer to the process by which an individual strives to keep unacceptable, painful and anxiety provoking need, urges and feelings associated with them in the unconscious layer of the mind. When we cast a discomforting idea deliberately out of our mind, we called it suppression. Suppressed material is easily recalled and it available in the conscious mind. When this process takes places unconsciously, we call it repression. Example: a child may feel angry with his mother because she had punished him. When he feel too guilty about his anger, he may repress it and may still be unconsciously angry. It will be happened when the accidentally breaking of his mother favourite thing or bed wetting by the child.. 02. Rationalization In this defence mechanism we make excuses giving a reason different from the real one for what we are doing. it is a defence mechanism in which person justified his failure by using the socially unacceptable behaviour by providing socially approved reasons. There are generally two types of rationalization. These are: a. Sour Grapes : When an individual fails to attain his goals after repeated efforts, he may say that he did not want it any way. He adjusts to the frustration by denying the existence of any desire in him to attain the original goals. examples: A fox which could not reach the grapes and out of sheer frustration declares that grapes are sour. Or a boy when he fails to qualify himself in the school football team rationalizes his failure by saying that he does not want to play B. Sweet Lemon: When an individual is not satisfied with his achievement or the situation he is in, then he uses this form of rationalization. The individual who uses this method tries to convince himself that what he has is exactly what he wants. Examples: A teacher before joining the teaching profession tried his best to get a better job than teaching but when he fails, he accepts teaching as a very good profession and thus rationalizes himself. 03. Intellectualization It is related to rationalization, it is the far from an emotional or threatening situation by talking or thinking about it in intellectual term. A nurse, doctor and paramedical worker cannot afford to become emotionally attached to each patient. So the employed the defence or free from the emotional attachment by giving brief statement regarding the situation. Examples a patient who is serious ill, calmly tell the family member rather than saying I am so sorry.
  • 2. A Text Book of Psychology for Nurses – Unit VII Omprakash Swami (Author) - Associate Professor, Mahatma Gandhi Nursing College, Jaipur This is helpful defence mechanism to separate yourself from professional crises and anxiety Another examples: when a person who has just been diagnosed with a terminal ill might focus on the disease information in order to avoid distress and remain distant from the reality of the situation. 04. Compensation When we replace a loss or to make up for a defect. Just as nature compensate for disease in our bodies when a blind person develops extraordinarily keen hearing. So we develop personality traits to compensate for various inadequacies. When people are frustrated in their desires in one direction, they compensate for it by attaining success in other direction. Example: A student who fails in his studies may compensate by becoming the college champion in athletics. A plain girl who cannot compete with her more beautiful sisters may compensate by studying hard and come first in her class. 05. Substitution A mechanism in which original goals are substituted by others. For example, a student who has not been accepted for admission in a medical college may satisfy herself by admission in nursing courses. 06. Sublimation It is the channeling of a strong and socially unacceptable drive into a form that is acceptable to society. In the sublimation sexual desire are very important. For example: An unmarried women show repressed sexual desires, by working as a nursery school teacher. A young person who has fail in love may start write poetry about love. Unsuccessful defence mechanism 1. Suppression It is a intentional pushing away from awareness of certain unwelcome idea, memories and feelings. We push backward according to our wish and remember these ideas we required. For example: a student’s worry about study so that They postponed weakened programme. 2. Reaction formation: it is a strongly rejected or oppose to other. Such a tendency is called as reaction formation. Example: the mother of an unwanted child may feel guilty and so become over-indulgent or over protective of the child to assure herself that she is a good mother People who extreme friendly, over polite have a unconscious feeling of anger and hatred towards many people. 3. Displacement Means to replace the actual object of feelings which are often aggression, with another object. Examples: A person who is angry with his boss, but cannot show it for fear of losing the job may fight his wife and children on return from the office or kick his dog. 4. Denial Denial is the unaccepted of real thing, we use denial when death in the family, serious illness or life threatening situation. A people often practice denial, at least for a period of time, when he knows he has a fatal illness but cannot accept his death. Examples : very old people will not easily accept that their mental and physical powers are on the decline as they advance in age. , backward students do not find any reliability in the intelligent tests. Denial is quite harmful if practiced in moderation, but can lead to serious difficulties in health and life style if practiced to excess. 5. Isolation Separation of the idea of an unconscious impulse from its appropriate affect, thus allowing only the idea and not the associated affect to enter awareness, as in the ability to express traumatic experience without the associated disturbing emotion, with passage of time.
  • 3. A Text Book of Psychology for Nurses – Unit VII Omprakash Swami (Author) - Associate Professor, Mahatma Gandhi Nursing College, Jaipur For example, a solider humorously describes how he was seriously wounded in the war. 6. Projection: Projection relives tension and anxiety by transferring the responsibility for unacceptable idea, impulses, wishes or thoughts to another person. For example: student who believe that everybody cheat in examinations may also cheat in a same way. The surgeon who did the mistake in operation theatre may insist that it happened because the theatre nurse and ward boy did their task badly. 7. Regression Some people do not meet the problem of life, its strains and stress, in a mature way. They revert and retreat to an infantile or childish level of behaviour, and thus avoid the painfulness of suffering a conflict or tension. This mode of behaviour is called regression. It always implies a form of behaviour which is less mature then what is expected of the individual Example, a student may fall ill just to avoid such frustrating situations as an examination or appearance before a group. He may suffer from stomach trouble or vague aches or headache. These modes of behaviour save the student from facing the real problems 8. Conversion A mental mechanism in which an emotional conflict is expressed as a physical symptom for which there is no demonstrable organic basic. Example: A student very anxious about his exams may develop a headache. 9. Fantasy or Daydreaming Normally everyone uses imagination in some form to fulfill the shortcoming of his life. Thus fantasy is a common method of adjustment that reduces conflict and tension. Day dreaming is another frequently used form of fantasy. Example: Teenagers fantasize about adventure, romance and being successful in future while old people relive their youth in their fantasies. Excessive daydreaming may result in the loss of contact with fact of life and may lead to a psychotic disorder called schizophrenia 10. Identification It is an adjustment mechanism which enables one to achieve satisfaction from the successes of other people, groups or organization. Example: Boys often identify themselves with their father, and girls with their mothers. Student often identify themselves with their favourite teachers and try to modify their behaviour accordingly. Implication of Ego Defence Mechanism:  The defense mechanism has a profound impact on the development of personality.  The idea of a defense mechanism is a psychological approach to coping with a particular problem or situation.  It is a construct of the conscious in dealing with an issue that potentially resides in the sub- consciousness.  We use defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from feelings of anxiety or guilt, which arise because we feel threatened, or because our id or superego becomes too demanding.  We all have thoughts, feelings, and memories that can be difficult to deal with. In some cases, people deal with such feelings by utilizing what are known as defense mechanisms.  These defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological responses that protect people from threats and things that they don't want to think about or deal with.