Defense Mechanisms

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Bryan Elwell

Psychological Defense Mechanisms are unconscious ways the human psyche protects me from unwanted negative attacks on my own self-image. Two ways that my unconscious reacts when in defense mode is to use Avoidance and Counterattack in an attempt to portray my self- image in a positive way. As a Volunteer Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician, I often find myself using these types of mechanisms on the job. For example, Rationalization, Repression and Displacement are the most commonly used by me.

In General, upon returning back to the station after a dwelling fire, the company officers critique each Firefighter’s work during the incident. As a Firefighter, I am expected to wear personal protective equipment at all times. However, on this particular job while searching for victims I failed to wear my Nomex hood designed to protect my ears and exposed neck from heat and flames. When questioned about my disregard for department policy I quickly used rationalization to defend myself. I told my chief that there was no heat during the secondary search and that there were no visible flames presenting a direct threat to myself. Even though I knew what the policy was I attempted to deflect his scolding by rationalizing with him. Clearly, I was wrong. Furthermore, as an Emergency Medical Technician I respond to citizen 911 calls requesting immediate medical attention and transport to the emergency room. A majority of those calls are non-critical cases and remain unremarkable. However, on occasion I am dispatched to a residence for a cardiac arrest requiring me to do my best all the while adhering to the state protocols with regard to preserving life. I have had my share of saves in the field, but also experienced my share of patients who do not survive despite good CPR and other medical interventions. In most cases, I remain unaffected with adult loss of life yet I find myself practicing repression with child patient death. Pretending...
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