Defense Mechanism

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Defense Mechanism | Description | Example |
Acting out | Behaving in a manner that expresses impulse or unconscious wishes without awareness/understanding of the emotion driving behavior | Temper tantrum, drug use, promiscuity …unconscious wish may be a desire for attention, emotion may be loneliness | Altruism | Concern for other’s well‐being, in an either excessive or successful manner. Actions/service to others that brings enjoyment, distraction, or avoidance of problems. | A church member who volunteers for any and every responsibility; the friend who bends over backward to serve, at their own expense. | Anticipation | Realistic planning for future discomfort. Adequate anticipation may yield appropriate preparation for future event/circumstance creating anxiety. | Spending so much time planning for future events that events are not enjoyed. | Denial | Declaring or thinking whatever is true is false. Refusal to accept reality, external facts, events, implications bc nature of the reality threatens individual. Emotional conflicts resolved by refusal to acknowledge unpleasant external realities. | Alcoholic who refuses to believe his drinking makes an impact on his job performance or family life | Displacement | Aggression or even sexual impulses redirected to a more acceptable party. Emotion pointed to safer outlet. Separation of emotion from its real object. Emotion dissuaded to object, party that brings less risk. | Mother may yell at child when she feels angry at husband. In this case she displaces her anger toward child bc child appears to be a more acceptable target; less threatening, less risk in outcome. | Dissociation | Mod of internal identity, character to avoid painful emotions. Separation of naturally occurring feeling from event or thought. Extreme compartmentalizing. Feel separated from their bodies. Feel events are not really happening. Conscious thought process is elsewhere, not in present moment. | Individual day...
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