Defence Mechanisms (Contd.)

    Post 41 of 198

    Following on from last time here are some more defence mechanisms.


    Undoing is an attempt at taking back a thought, feeling or behaviour that is hurtful or unacceptable. An example would be offending someone then pouring out lots of flattery and praise in the hope of undoing the original offence.


    Intellectualization occurs when someone overthinks a situation without an emotional context. It is a way of distancing oneself from the situation, feeling or experience. For instance when confronted with a unacceptable behaviour someone might try to explain why the behaviour had to happen.


    Displacement occurs when someone redirects their feelings for one person or situation onto someone else. For example someone may lack the confidence to challenge a manager with an unreasonable demand for fear of being fired. They then take their frustration and anger out on someone else like a subordinate or maybe start an argument with their partner at home. They have redirected their anger. This defence mechanism is quite ineffective as it has resolved nothing but more often than not causes more difficulties.


    Repression happens unconsciously. It is the blocking of difficult thoughts, feelings and memories. Repressed memories have been blocked to protect us from difficult experiences.


    Rationalization happens when we explain something in a way that offers a different perspective that suits us. An example would be feeling excited about applying for a dream job. When unsuccessful the candidate then says, “I heard they weren’t a good company to work for”


    Mature Defence Mechanisms

    Mature defence mechanisms could be considered to be the most helpful to us as adults.  Primitive defences are immediate and focus on getting away from an uncomfortable feeling or behaviour but don’t address underlying issues. Mature defences however focus more on helping us be more constructive and at peace with ourselves and those around us.


    Assertiveness is the ability to communicate thoughts, feelings, needs, boundaries in a confident and respectful way. Assertive people respect and honour and listen to other people’s needs and feelings and so on but not at the expense of their own.


    Sublimation is the channelling of unwanted uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and impulses into more comfortable and acceptable ones. For example rather than lash out angrily and destructively in a rage someone might use that energy in a positive and constructive way to bring about change. The energy becomes more of a passion for resolution rather than destructive point scoring. Another example would be channelling of uncomfortable thoughts through humour into something light hearted and less worrying.


    Compensation takes place when we address perceived weaknesses in one area by focusing on strengths in other areas. This is a useful defence mechanism that helps improve and reinforce self-esteem and self-confidence.


    As previously stated defence mechanisms are normal and are often learned in childhood. As adults we can learn some new ones that are more useful and beneficial. Counselling can help you identify defence mechanisms and particularly the primitive ones. The more aware you become of defence mechanisms the more empowered to can feel to develop and learn more mature and healthy ones.



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    This article was written by sentientcounselling