Defense Mechanisms

Who would say that the cat’s calling the liver that it cannot reach unclean is a defense mechanism that protects it from failure?

What if the result of the exam at school was high, ‘I got it…’ but who of us did not give the right to try to protect the self-self of that child who said, ‘The teacher gave it to him…’ when he had a miscarriage?

These ways we use unconsciously are called defense mechanisms. Its main purpose is to prevent them from shaking us when disturbing and depressing feelings arise, that is, to protect our selves. But as you can see from the examples, the benefits are temporary: The cat starves; it is likely that the child will get low grades again in the next exam.

Vaillant (1988) divided them into 4 groups in his hierarchical model of defense mechanisms:



primitive and

Psychotic Defenses.

Since it would be more accurate to consider neurotic, primitive, and psychotic defenses in therapy, I will only touch upon mature defenses here.

Mature defenses often point to psychological well-being, not dysfunction. Conscious suppression, altruism, sublimation, and humor are included in this group. Let’s go over one of your New Year’s resolutions: Someone who has decided to pay extra attention to what they eat and exercise a lot, gain 2 kilos this week.

Conscious suppression: I am disappointed and sorry, but I will not let these emotions negatively affect my life (experiencing the emotion on a conscious level).

Altruism: I will share the excess meals I make with the old aunt in the opposite apartment (suppressing the negative emotion by doing useful things for others).

Sublimation: I’ll sign up for a gym as soon as possible (turning emotion into a constructive and socially rewarding endeavor).

Humor: Now I will need to lose 7 kilos instead of 5, the goal is growing (expressing emotion in an indirect and humorous way).

These mechanisms can help you cope with the emotions you are experiencing and move on, but using these ways frequently can also lead people to see you as someone who doesn’t take anything seriously, makes jokes about everything, or is emotionless, ironic.

What are your involuntary cognitive efforts to stressors?

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