Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Defence Mechanisms

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Defence Mechanisms

In Freud's psychoanalytic theory, the ego employs defence mechanisms to cope with the conflicting demands of the other two parts of the personality: the id and the superego.

What are defence mechanisms in psychology?

Sigmund Freud first mentioned the concept of defence mechanisms in his 1894 essay, 'The Neuro-Psychoses of Defence'. Freudian psychoanalysis theory defines them as internal drives that emanate from our minds when facing conflict situations.

The ego regulates conflicting demands between the id and the superego through a defence mechanism.

Defence mechanisms are psychological tactics of the unconscious mind that protect us from fear, unpleasant or overwhelming thoughts and feelings, such as coping with trauma and difficult situations.

However, this process involves distorting reality to cope with these situations. Relying on specific mechanisms too often can lead to unhealthy and undesirable psychological problems.

Ego defence mechanisms are natural and normal. However, if used frequently, the person may develop neuroses such as anxiety, phobias, compulsions, or hysteria.

Passive defence mechanisms

The ego can mediate between the functioning of the drives of the id and superego. The ego can shift from passive to active and thus cope with the anxiety associated with passive feelings of inadequacy and weakness.

In early life experiences, the ego helps the child build a perception of security that makes him feel in control of himself and overwhelming circumstances. At first, it serves as a building block of the ego, and later it becomes a flexible defence mechanism that functions throughout life.

The passive mechanism's role is to support conflicted feelings and manage developmental fears. It can also be called a discrete defence mechanism.

Types of defence mechanisms in psychology

The defence mechanism is the distortion of reality, and it extends to many levels. Let us take a look at some of them.

Denial

Denial is the refusal to accept reality. It occurs when the conscious mind confronts an imposed stressful memory, such as traumatic or painful memories. It is considered a narcissistic and immature defence because its functioning rejects reality.

A wife refuses to see that her husband is no longer interested in sharing his life with her and that it is time for her to divorce him.

Repression

Repression happens when a traumatic memory is forced outside of conscious awareness into the subconscious, i.e., forgetting it. It is considered a fear defence because even though the feelings are not exposed, they create fear.

A child has no memory of an event where his father verbally abused him.

Another example of repression would be when a child is going through his psychosexual development at the stage of the Oedipus complex. The boy develops aggressive ideas about his father, and these feelings are repressed or forced into the subconscious.

Displacement

When we have a certain feeling about someone and cannot express it, we transfer it to another person or even animals or objects. Displacement is also considered a defence mechanism against anxiety. The ego does not know how to resolve the uncertainty between the id and the superego, thus transferring the energy to a more acceptable target.

'My mother was angry at my father and started yelling at me for no reason.'

Sublimation

Unlike denial and the repression of reality, sublimation accepts reality. Sublimation is more like repression, but instead of destructively repressing overwhelming feelings, it transforms the feelings into constructive channels for behaviour, emotion, or action. It channels unacceptable impulsive behaviour into constructive behaviour that is acceptable. It is considered a healthy and mature defence.

For example, you are angry with your mother and instead of starting a heated argument, you decide to go outside and exercise to channel the anger into something else.

Regression

Regression happens when the ego regresses to earlier stages of development in response to a stressful situation. Regression is a form of refuge. The person reverts to a moment in the past when they felt safe.

When you are in trouble, and you react by acting childish.

Projection

Anna Freud proposed the notion of projection. It involves the thoughts, feelings and motives that we project into someone else. Projection happens when we see our undesirable qualities in other people. Here is an example.

Suppose you say: 'I do not like it when people talk loudly, and I know that girl talks loudly'. You could then project your own thoughts onto her: 'This girl does not like me, I just know it'.

Defence Mechanisms - Key takeaways

  • Freud first mentioned the concept of defence mechanisms in his 1894 essay, 'The Neuro-Psychoses of Defence'.
  • The ego regulates conflicting demands between the id and the superego through a defence mechanism.
  • Ego defence mechanisms are natural and normal. However, when used frequently, the person may develop neuroses such as anxiety, phobias, compulsions, or hysteria.
  • Denial is the refusal to accept reality.
  • Repression happens when a traumatic memory is forced into the subconscious outside of conscious awareness, i.e., forgetting it.
  • Displacement is when we have a certain feeling about someone and cannot express it, we transfer it to another person or even animals, objects.

Frequently Asked Questions about Defence Mechanisms

Repression, denial and displacement.

Defence mechanisms are psychological tactics of the unconscious mind that protect us from fear, unpleasant or overwhelming thoughts and feelings, such as coping with trauma and difficult situations.

Freudian psychoanalysis theory defines them as internal drives that emanate from our minds when facing conflict situations. The ego employs defence mechanisms to cope with the conflicting demands of the other two parts of the personality: the id and the superego.

Projection refers to the thoughts, feelings, and motives we project onto someone else. Let us assume that it is a fact that we see our undesirable thoughts and behaviours in other people to confront them in our lives. Unfortunately, the person doing it is usually unaware that they are doing it.

Some examples of defence mechanisms are:

  1. Denial. 
  2. Repression.
  3. Displacement.
  4. Sublimation.
  5. Regression.
  6. Projection.

Final Defence Mechanisms Quiz

Question

When and who did write first about the concept of defense mechanism?

Show answer

Answer

Sigmund Freud first mentioned the concept of defence mechanisms in his 1894 essay, 'The Neuro-Psychoses of Defence'.

Show question

Question

What is the definition of a defence mechanism in psychoanalytic theory?

Show answer

Answer

In Freud's psychoanalytic theory, the ego employs defence mechanisms to cope with the conflicting demands of the other two parts of the personality: the id and the superego.

Show question

Question

How does the ego operate in the defence mechanism?

Show answer

Answer

The ego regulates conflicting demands between the id and the superego through a defence mechanism.

Show question

Question

What happens when we rely on defence mechanisms too often?

Show answer

Answer

Relying on specific mechanisms too often can lead to unhealthy and undesirable psychological problems.

Show question

Question

Is it normal to have ego-defence mechanisms?



Show answer

Answer

Ego defence mechanisms are natural and normal. However, if used frequently, the person may develop neuroses such as anxiety, phobias, compulsions, or hysteria.

Show question

Question

What is the role of the passive mechanisms?

Show answer

Answer

The passive mechanism's role is to support conflicted feelings and manage developmental fears. It can also be called a discrete defence mechanism.


Show question

Question

How do defence mechanisms perceive reality?

Show answer

Answer

The defence mechanism is the distortion of reality, and it extends to many levels.

Show question

Question

When does the denial defence mechanism occur?

Show answer

Answer

It occurs when the conscious mind confronts an imposed stressful memory, such as traumatic or painful memories.

Show question

Question

What is denial?

Show answer

Answer

Denial is the refusal to accept reality.

Show question

Question

 Is denial a healthy defence mechanism?

Show answer

Answer

No, it is considered a narcissistic and immature defence because its functioning rejects reality.

Show question

Question

What is an example of denial?

Show answer

Answer

A wife refuses to see that her husband is no longer interested in sharing his life with her and that it is time for her to divorce him.

Show question

Question

When does repression happen?

Show answer

Answer

Repression happens when a traumatic memory is forced outside of conscious awareness into the subconscious, i.e., forgetting it.

Show question

Question

 Can we use the Oedipus complex as an example of repression?

Show answer

Answer

Yes. Repression also occurs when a child is going through psychosexual development at the stage of the Oedipus complex. For example, the boy develops aggressive ideas about his father, and these feelings are repressed or forced into the subconscious.

Show question

Question

When does displacement occur?

Show answer

Answer

When we have a certain feeling about someone and cannot express it, we transfer it to another person or even animals or objects. Displacement is also considered a defence mechanism against anxiety.

Show question

Question

What happens when someone goes through regression?

Show answer

Answer

Regression is a form of refuge. The person reverts to a moment in the past when they felt safe.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Defence Mechanisms quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.