May 21, 2021
Defense mechanisms are psychological behaviors that subconsciously protect a person from anxiety caused by unacceptable emotions or thoughts. We use defensive behavior to protect ourselves from the feelings of guilt, isolation, fear, or anxiety that arise from the feeling of getting insulted. As a result, we tend to protect ourselves by placing our ego at the forefront. Self-defense mechanism is normal and completely natural. However, when it becomes unbalanced, a mental disorder or neurosis develops. It further develops into a state of fear, obsession, hysteria or phobia.
Here we discuss the different types of defense mechanisms that mental health experts have identified.
Denial: This is a defense mechanism in which a person blocks the processing of external events. They create an emotional boundary around themselves and stop accepting reality. They create a realm of perception in their mind, according to which what they think is the correct thing. They also feel that whatever action they take is the only truth and should be perceived that way.
Repression: People often repress their thoughts or memories in their unconscious mind where they remain hidden but not for long. Eventually, these repressed emotions, thoughts, or memories create anxiety, which can lead to the development of severer mental disorders.
Projection: This is a psychological defense mechanism in which an individual models a behavior or attribute for someone or something else to defend their own thoughts or behaviors. For example, you might not like someone and that makes you uncomfortable. However, rather than modelling your behavior to accept and change this, you justify your behavior by telling yourself that the other person hates you.
Displacement: Displacement is a behavior in which a person vents their aggression and anger on any other person other than the one who deserves it. The target can be any person from your family, a friend, a pet, or an object. For example, you have a bad day at work and you are angry at your colleague for not sharing the entire project brief with you. This made you present something that was not expected from the project. Now, instead of talking it out with your colleague, you come home and scream at or get angry with your child or a friend.
Regression: Regression is a defensive behavior in which the ego reverts back to a childhood memory where the person used to feel safe. This type of defense mechanism is used to avoid facing a fear.
Sublimation: Sublimation is a lot like displacement, but it happens when a person manages to turn unacceptable emotions or fear into constructive and socially acceptable behavior, rather than destructive actions or behavior.
Rationalization: Rationalization is a defensive behavior that involves the cognitive distortion of “real facts” to make real events or situations appear less intimidating. The person believes subconsciously that the present situation is less dire or threatening, contradicting the reality.
Reaction Formation: Reaction formation is a psychological defensive behavior in which a person behaves in a different way from their actual feelings and thoughts. Usually, conscious behavior helps us deal with the actual fear or circumstances and gives us the courage to thrive socially. However, reaction formation behavior is triggered by aggressive and coercive behavior. Such behavior helps the person to satisfy their ego, while the same person is unaware of the true motive and reality of the situation.
Identification with the Aggressor: In some circumstances, an aggressive person humiliates another person who can be considered as a victim. Here the victim adopts the behavior of the aggressor thinking that if they accept the aggressor’s behavior, the aggressor will have an empathetic approach towards the victim and can correlate with them. This, in turn, might reduce humiliation for the victim.
How We Can Help?
If you or a loved one identify with any of the defense mechanisms listed above, then there is a possibility of a deep cause leading you to adopt these. These defense mechanism can be difficult to understand but you can always seek professional help to overcome them. Seeking timely help ensures that these do not get aggravated affecting a person’s social, personal, and professional life.
At Invictus Health Group, we value your mental health and offer compassionate care options keeping in mind your requirements. Call our 24/7 helpline at 866-548-0190 to get more information about a psychiatric center near you. You can also chat with our admissions consultants to learn about treatment plans and our network of mental health centers.