DEFENSE MECHANISMS

Defense mechanisms are strategies that an individual develops unconsciously to protect his/her psychological well-being and self in the face of negative situations and emotions. These are the strategies developed and used by the ego in the face of problems in order to protect itself from anxiety arising from intrapsychic (id, ego, superego conflict) conflict. Frequent and long-term use of these mechanisms, which we all use in our daily lives, can also lead to problems. Defense mechanisms were first proposed by Sigmund Freud and later examined and developed in more detail by his daughter Anna Freud.

Nov 17, 2023 - 02:30
Nov 18, 2023 - 15:15
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DEFENSE MECHANISMS
DEFENSE MECHANISMS

 Defense mechanisms are strategies that an individual develops unconsciously to protect his/her psychological well-being and self in the face of negative situations and emotions. These are the strategies developed and used by the ego in the face of problems in order to protect itself from anxiety arising from intrapsychic (id, ego, superego conflict) conflict. Frequent and long-term use of these mechanisms, which we all use in our daily lives, can also lead to problems. Defense mechanisms were first proposed by Sigmund Freud and later examined and developed in more detail by his daughter Anna Freud.

 The theory of defense mechanisms is basically based on Freud's personality theory. Freud argued that personality has three main elements:

·       Id: The pleasure-oriented impulsive side of the personality, where basic needs and impulses reside

·       Ego: Tries to balance the conflict between the id and superego, the aspect of the personality that copes with reality

·       Superego: The moral and conscientious aspect of personality, which includes social and moral norms

 As can be understood, the id and superego work in opposition to each other and therefore they conflict. Here the ego tries to balance this conflict and at the same time develops various strategies to cope with the anxiety arising from this conflict. The negative experiences we encounter in daily life can develop negative feelings, thoughts and behavior patterns in the individual. For example, we develop defense mechanisms and use them unconsciously to cope with emotions such as shame, sadness, guilt, but most importantly, to protect our self-esteem. In this context, defense mechanisms are quite natural. If used proportionately and appropriately, we can get over negative experiences more easily and quickly, thus protecting our self and psychological well-being. However, excessive and long-term use of defense mechanisms can cause the person to lose their perception of reality and hinder the functioning of the self, therefore leading to pathological problems.

1.        Denial: One of the most commonly used defense mechanisms is denial. In the face of situations that the individual cannot accept or cope with, denying the existence of that situation to the extent that it does not disrupt the individual's self-integrity and perception of reality. The individual ignores the reality that he/she cannot cope with, ignores it and acts as if nothing had happened. Although its excessive use may pose a threat to the perception of reality, it can help one overcome traumatic experiences and emotions. However, excessive and long-term use of defense mechanisms can cause the person to lose their perception of reality and hinder the functioning of the self, therefore leading to pathological problems.

2.        Repression: Pushing into the unconscious the memories, emotions and most importantly, impulses that are contrary to the ego and self-esteem and that are deemed inappropriate, by trying to forget them. Unlike denial, there is awareness of the emotions and situations experienced, but this situation is pushed into the unconscious and confrontation is avoided. It is an energy-consuming defense mechanism that is constantly used to avoid the anxiety caused by the impulses reaching consciousness.

3.        Regression: The individual who cannot cope with the difficulties he/she faces and the responsibilities and duties of that age period returns to earlier childhood periods and exhibits childish behavior. The aim here is to reduce worry and anxiety by returning to the age at which one can cope and feels safer. Although it is most common in children, it can also be seen in adults after some traumatic experiences.  

4.        Projection: It means that the person attributes the feelings, thoughts, desires and impulses that he/she cannot accept and sees as flaws in himself/herself to other people and puts the blame on them. They act as if these thoughts and patterns were on the other side and not on themselves. They are not responsible for their own failures. For example, a student who gets a low grade in the exam and blames the teacher is an example of this defense mechanism. In short, it is a person's explanation of emotions, behaviors and thought patterns that do not suit him/herself through others and attributing them to them. People who constantly use this defense mechanism have 'paranoid tendencies'.

5.        Rationalization: It is aimed to reduce the negative emotions felt by being aware and conscious of the wrongness of the action taken and producing acceptable and logical excuses. For example, a thief may claim that he/she is entitled to the things he/she stole, or someone who gets a low grade on the exam may argue that he/she does not like the course anyway and that this course is not important to him/her.

6.        Sublimation: This defense mechanism is a relatively more positive defense mechanism. It is the ability of a person to turn his/her impulses, which would be considered inappropriate by the society, into positive and useful actions that will be accepted by the society. For example, someone with sadistic tendencies becomes a surgeon.

7.        Displacement: It is when a person directs emotions such as anger and resentment to the person he/she sees as a weaker link, rather than to the person who is the main source of these emotions. For example, a man who is scolded by his boss displays angry behavior towards his wife at home, rather than towards his boss.

8.        Opposing reaction: It is the act of an individual who is aware of how he feels, acting and expressing as if he feels the opposite. If the emotion is positive, it can be turned into negative, and if it is negative, it can be turned into positive. For example, a woman who judges and criticizes her friend for being with a man actually wants to have a partner.

9.        Undoing: Invalidating an inappropriate or faulty action by doing the opposite, and compensating for the mistake in one's own way. Balancing faulty experience with positive action. For example, a man who cheats on his wife takes his wife on vacation.

10.    Asceticism: The individual's complete abstinence from actions that he/she would enjoy in order to avoid social pressure and the guilt and pleasure that impulsive behavior would cause.

 References

DBE.(2022,07,28). SAVUNMA MEKANİZMALARI NEDİR VE NASIL İŞLER?.DBE. https://www.dbe.com.tr/tr/yetiskin-ve-aile/11/savunma-mekanizmalari-nedir-ve-nasil-isler/

Cilmeli, E. Savuma Mekanizmaları.11 Kasım 2023 tarihinde https://www.monapsikoloji.com/savunma-mekanizmalari/  adresinden erişildi.

Karaoğlu B. Savunma Mekanizmaları. 11 Kasım 2023 tarihinde http://www.izmirterapist.com/makale/15/savunma-mekanizmalari  adresinden erişildi.

Anonim yazar. Savunma Mekanizmaları. 11 Kasım 2023 tarihinde https://sisliterapi.com/blog/psikoloji/savunma-mekanizmalari  adresinden erişildi

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Ebrar Koku Merhaba, ben Ebrar Koku. Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt üniversitesinde Psikoloji bölümünde öğrenciyim, 3üncü sınıfım. Çeviri yapmak benim için bir hobi sayılabilir, ilgi çekici ve bilgilendirici konularda yazılan makaleleri sizler için çevirmekten mutluluk duyuyorum. İyi okumalar :)