DEFENSE MECHANISMS
INDIRECT METHODS OF
ACHIEVING MASLOW’S NEEDS
Defense Mechanisms
• Unconscious Acts
• Helps person deal with:
– unpleasant situations or socially unacceptable
behaviors
Rationalization
• Use of a reasonable excuse or acceptable
explanation for behavior
• In order to avoid the real reason or true
motivation:
• Example: Patient who fears lab test may
say” I can’t take time off from work to do
this” rather than admit fear
Projection
• Placing blame for one’s own actions or
inadequacies on someone or else or
circumstances-rather than accepting
responsibility for their own actions.
• Example: the teacher failed me because
she doesn’t like me…rather than the
actual reason…I didn't study/do the work
etc.
• When people use projection they avoid
having to admit they made the mistake
Displacement
• Transfer of feelings about one person to
another.
• Can’t direct feelings toward the person
responsible
• Direct anger at coworkers or family (safe
targets)
• EX: Angry with boss, comes home and
yells at the family
Compensation
• Substitution of one goal for another in
order to achieve success
• If the substituted goal meet the
needs…this can be healthy
• Ex: Person wants to be MD, no $, but
becomes a Physicians Assistant.
• Compensation can be efficient, IF the sub
goal is met and productive
Daydreaming
• Means of Escape when one isn’t satisfied with
reality
• Can allow person to set goals for the future and
set a course to meet the goals…then
daydreaming is good
• BUT…IF daydreaming is a substitute for
REALITY..and dreams are more satisfying than
reality…then daydreaming is bad
• Example: Becoming a dentist: take action to
achieve the goal-goal is met- daydreaming is
positive
• Becoming a dentist: taking no action- goal not
met- daydreaming is negative
Repression
• Transfer of unacceptable or painful ideas,
feelings and thoughts into the unconscious mind
• Not aware this is occurring
• When feelings or emotions become too painful
or frightening for the person to deal with
• Allows the person to function and “forget” the
unpleasant fear or feeling
• Can resurface in dreams, or affect behavior
• Example: person terrified of heights-doesn’t
know why
Suppression
• Similar to Repression except• Person is AWARE of the unacceptable
feelings or thoughts and refuses to deal
with them
• Substitute work, hobby, or project to avoid
a situation.
• Example: man works late every night to
avoid fighting with his wife
Denial
• Not a river in Egypt!!!
• Disbelief of an event or idea too shocking to deal
with
• Occurs frequently during illness
• When person is ready to deal then denial
becomes acceptance
• Example: "Sure, I have been drinking a bit too
much lately, but it's only due to stresses at work;
I don't really have a drinking problem since this
is situational and not an inner weakness or
something."
Withdrawal
• 2 main ways: cease to communicate or
remove self physically from situation
• Sometimes a satisfactory means of
avoiding conflict
• Example: silence, running away, and
drinking and drug use.
Malingering
• To feign illness or other incapacity in order
to avoid duty or work.
• Example: feel “sick” stay home from
school to avoid a test, but around 3:30 you
get to feeling a lot better
Sublimation
• transformation of unwanted impulses into
something less harmful and more socially
acceptable
• Example :A person with strong sexual
urges becomes an artist.
• A man who has extra-marital desires takes
up household repairs when his wife is out
of town.
Intellectualization
• intellectualization involves removing the
emotion from emotional experiences, and
discussing painful events in detached,
uncaring, sterile ways.
• Example: a family member close to you
becomes terminally ill, you engross
yourself in the study of the disease in
order to avoid dealing with the emotions of
the situation