Defence Mechanisms

Here are references relating to different types of therapeutic interventions we can offer and different types of mental health issues, developmental disorders and other presenting problems.
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Defence Mechanisms

Post by Dr.Dot »

Defence mechanisms are considered a great deal in the psychoanalytical literature, and in analytically informed therapy. However, they are important to be aware of in all therapy as well as in self-reflection. We all have defence mechanisms, it is our creative way of protecting ourselves from our internal conflicts...which work, but sometimes don't (solutions become symptoms). They can be a source of denying our experience, which can become problematic. Defence mechanisms are difficult to break through as they become reinforced over time. There can be difficulties in relation to insight, and how they operate in our worlds.

Here is a brief overview of some of them(source of information: Personality Disorders in Modern Life):

Acting out
Conflicts are translated into action, with little or no intervening reflection.

Refusal to acknowledge some painful external or subjective reality obvious to others.

Devaluation Attributing unrealistic negative qualities to self or others, as a means of punishing the self or reducing the impact of the devalued item.

Displacement Conflicts are displaced from a threatening object to a less threatening one.

Disassociation Conflict is dealt with by disrupting the integration of consciousness, memory or perception of the internal and external world.

Fantasy Avoidance of conflict by creating imaginary situations which satisfy drives or desires.

Idealization Attributing unrealistic positive qualities to self or others.

Isolation of Affect Conflict is defused by separating ideas from affects, thus retaining an awareness of intellectual or factual aspects but losing touch with threatening emotions.

Omnipotence An image of oneself as incredibly powerful, intelligent, or superior is created to overcome threatening eventualities or feelings.

Projection Unacceptable emotions or personal qualities are disowned by attributing them to others.

Projective Identification Unpleasant feelings and reactions are not only projected onto others, but also retained in awareness and viewed as a reaction to the recipient's behaviour.

An explanation for behaviour is constructed after the fact to justify one's actions in the eyes of self and others.

Reaction Formation Unacceptable thoughts or impulses are contained by adopting a position that expresses the direct opposite.

Repression Forbidden thoughts and wishes are withheld from conscious awareness.

Splitting Opposite qualities of a single object are held apart, left in deliberately unintegrated opposition, resulting in cycles of idealization and devaluation as either extreme is projected onto self and others.

Sublimation Unacceptable emotions are defused by being channelled into socially acceptable behaviour.

Undoing Attempts to rid oneself of guilt through behaviour that compensates the injured party actually or symbolically.

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Content checked by a Team Member on 01/03/2012.
Last modified on 01/03/2012.
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