Defense Mechanisms – Our Self-Deceptions

There are many types of defense mechanisms (Sigmund Freud referred to these as self-deceptions) that we use to help us deal with anxiety. They can be very rewarding in reducing stressful feelings. Once we learn how to use them and see how well they work, these defense mechanisms can be difficult to relinquish.

  • Denial: Refusal to acknowledge or accept some part of reality. For example, not actually accepting the death of a spouse, but believing the person has left on a trip and will return shortly.
  • Displacement: Not exhibiting honest emotions to someone or during an incident. You might choose to act out on another person or object who is less threatening or intimidating.
  • Intellectualization: Focusing one’s energy on practical or intellectual details rather than feeling the underlying emotions.
  • Projection: Attributing to someone else the unacceptable desires or feelings you may have.
  • Rationalization: Giving logical reasons for your behavior which avoid the real reason for which you acted or want to act.
  • Reaction Formation: Stating and acting out your beliefs as the opposite of how you really feel or believe.
  • Regression: Acting in a way consistent with an earlier stage of development.
  • Repression: Pushing threatening thoughts, feelings, desires or traumatic experiences deep within the unconscious.
  • Sublimation: Not acting on your true, real and likely “forbidden” desires, you act in a way that is seen as more socially acceptable, for example sexual desires.
  • Suppression: Trying to forget an unpleasasnt event that causes anxiety by pushing it aside into the unconscious. Similar but less severe than repression.
  • Projecting: Pushing outward the internal responsibility for an internal reality, such as thinking others dislike you when actually you dislike them.
  • Resistance: Protecting the unfinished business and avoiding the real underlying emotions beneath it, or self-conflict.
  • Retroflection: Inflicting on yourself what you don’t allow yourself to do to others, i.e., “I hate myself,” “But I don’t hate you.”
  • Introjection: Behaving or thinking the way you think others want you to, without internalizing it as part of yourself. You are unable to feel your real needs, unable to separate yourself from addictive personalities.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.
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