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10 of The Most Common Defense Mechanisms in Psychology

Defense mechanisms are the brain's ways of keeping us safe from being fully aware of unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, we can choose to use certain defense mechanisms like repression, denial, and rationalization. 

According to Wikipedia, both Freud's studied defense mechanisms, but Anna spent more of her time and research on five main mechanisms: repression, regression, projection, reaction formation, and sublimation. All defense mechanisms are responses to anxiety and how the conscious and unconscious manage the stress of a social situation.

10 of The Most Common Defense Mechanisms in Psychology
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Below is a list of ten of the most common defense mechanisms.

1. Displacement

The diversion of emotions such as anger, from the original source to a substitute target. For example, Your friend says something hurtful and instead of confronting your friend, you later lash out at your sister.

2. Projection

The projection of one's own feelings, thoughts, or motives onto someone else. For example, the person who is cheating is under the impression that their partner is cheating on them.

3. Rationalization

Developing false, though plausible excuses to justify irrational and/or unacceptable behavior. For example, Stealing from a corporate chain store such as Best Buy and justifying the theft by saying: "They make millions in profit so it doesn't matter"

4. Reaction Formation

Behaving in a way opposite to how you feel. For example, When a person is romantically attracted to someone, but adamantly claims that they dislike that someone.
5. Regression
Reverting to childlike patterns of behavior. For example, A student gets a bad grade on their test and screams and cries at their parents or teacher.

6. Repression/Denial

Pushing or burying thoughts and feelings that are distressing into the subconscious. For example, An addict will deny they have an addiction because they can function fine at work and at home. An example of repression would be a person who witnessed a crime being unable to remember the event.

7. Sublimation

The refocusing of unacceptable impulses, thoughts, and raw emotions into more acceptable ones. For example, A person who is experiencing aggressive impulses instead challenges that energy into rigorous exercise.

8. Dissociation

The detachment from reality and from oneself and the finding of another representation of self to cope with extreme stress or conflict. A person uses dissociation as a defense mechanism to disconnect from reality and live in their own world, in which they do not experience unbearable thoughts, feelings, or memories for a period of time.

9. Intellectualization

Overthinking and misdirection of focus when confronted with unacceptable situations, behaviors, or impulses. For example, A person who has been told a close family member has died begins to focus on and overthink the details of planning a funeral, etc., instead of expressing their grief.

10. Compensation

The counterbalancing of perceived flaws or weaknesses by instead emphasizing the strengths. For example, A person says they can't draw, but they're really good at dancing. What defense mechanism do you use? Share your thoughts with us below!