The role of defence mechanisms

Defence mechanisms arise during stressful situations. Our Ego is responsible for stimulating defence mechanisms in the mind.

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This Ego is related to a judge whose role is to satisfy both Id and Superego’s requirements. The pressure of these forces causes anxiety and fear in individuals. In order to defend the body against anxiety and fear, the organism reaches into the back of its abilities and creates a defence mechanism specific to the exact situation. However, one that brings the body to a state of balance and peace.

Defence mechanisms are automatic forms of response to situations of unconscious fear or anticipation of possible danger. Examples of typical defence mechanisms include avoidance and denial. Both act as situations that cause thoughts or emotions that a person cannot tolerate at a given time. In the short term, such defence mechanisms can improve the functioning of the body as mentioned above, allowing you to control potentially overwhelming feelings.

However, such processes can, however, cause problems in real life if they tend to obfuscate or distort reality. For example, a student who spends their time playing online games or using social networking services instead of studying for exams. To counteract the intense anxiety they would feel, sitting down to look at books or read (school reading), would suffice. Such a stepping stone can be a defence against avoiding boring studies or difficult maths.

Another example is when we have to finish the ASAP project and we say “I have time to do it later on” and we automatically feel better in a stressful situation because we have replaced the behaviour with procrastination.

To understand defence mechanisms, it’s helpful to know a little about the psychodynamic view of our personality.

Freud believed that our psyche is not our physical brain but rather our nature. Using the iceberg analogy, the Id is submerged out of sight in our subconscious. The Ego and the Superego are mostly above the water and in our consciousness.
The Id is the primordial and instinctive part of our personality and can relate to a wild child who is driven by emotions such as death, sex and libido. According to this hypothesis, we are born with only the Id part of our personality, going on to develop the Ego and the Superego at around the age of three to five years old.

It looks like the defence stage is developed very early in human life.
The basic concept of Freud is the recognition of first experiences adequate to the situation and transferred to the original state of mind. Experience creates an inseparable pattern of behaviour in adulthood life. So, the defence mechanisms are used to protect ourselves from feelings of anxiety or guilt, which arise because we feel insecure, or because our Id or Superego becomes too demanding.

Freud’s identified some of the mechanism as follow;

Repression: avoids a particular situation and pushes away the feelings by saying ‘let’s forget about it’. That specific event will still exist on an unconscious level, they make themselves known through various masked projections like ” Fraudien slips tongue” or in the form of symbols in dreams.

Denial: a refusal to accept that something exists or has happened in the past. It may be a defence mechanism that allows to not get into a particular situation when we have to accept the fact for protecting our wellbeing. For instance, in the event of the sudden death of a loved one but also, loss of work or the moment you retire.
Typical denial is when a “smoker” is informed about developing cancer will refuse information about it and will be keep smoking.

A Projection: taking an aspect of yourself and putting it on someone else. For instance: the angered person projects anger on somebody else, with wrong believing that the other person was provoked by this situation. A lot of transitions have a place here as well. A typical story we can observe when a person involved in trouble in the workplace will transfer his emotion on a family member and in the opposite way as well. A particular issue when we mix professional with personal life.

Introjection: adapting the attitude of another to protect them. A child can adopt parents believing system without own consideration. That behaviour can create particular traits of character.

Rationalisation: Creating an acceptable but inaccurate explanation of the situation. We are seeking excuses to avoid failures.

Intellectualisation: a logical course of thinking without altering emotions.

Displacement: Showing anger, etc. to another rather than where it should be directed.

Reaction formation: Performing actions that are opposite to the feelings. A typical example is when someone pretends to be a nice person when in fact he or she is not or has other intentions.

Regression: In the appearance of danger we behave infantile, that could be created by anxiety, fear or anger, that eventually stimulates us to go back to an earlier stage of development to protect unconsciously, ourselves. That particular behaviour arises when a person abandons responsibility according to age and maturity and starts to behave like a child.

Many more of these defence mechanisms are created unintentionally in our mind in everyday life, individually in an unpleasant situation.

If you have other examples, follow to the comments section. Thank you

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