Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Defence Mechanism

All of us, quite often, face environmental or personal
obstacles in life which cause anxiety and lead to
stress. Psychologists have given different names to
stress such as frustration, conflict, pressure etc. To
protect ourselves against anxiety and stress, our ego
sets up mechanisms which are known as defence
mechanisms. Defence mechanisms are unrealistic and
operate at the unconscious level. While one uses
such a mechanism one is unaware of it. Defence
mechanisms are not healthy methods to cope with
anxiety and stress as they are an unrealistic approach
to problems. If defence mechanisms are used
frequently, they lead to serious psychological disorders.
The severity of stress depends on individual personality,
situations, contexts, duration, importance, multiplicity
of need, strength and quantity of conflicting forces,
eminence of anticipated stress, unfamiliarity or
suddenness of the problem, perception of a problem,
degree of threat, stress tolerance of the individual
and external resources and supports etc. We experience
stress in our life when we face circumstances like
death of spouse or a close family member or close
friend, marital separation or reconciliation,
imprisonment, personal injury, illness, marriage,
retirement, sex difficulties, pregnancy, new comer in
family, change in financial state, business
readjustment, change in job or work pattern, change
in the responsibilities at work, mortgage or loan,
difference with spouse or head of the family, beloved’s
leaving home, trouble with in-laws, outstanding
personal achievement, attachment or detachment with
job or wife, joining or leaving school, change in living
conditions and residences or schools, change in
personal habits, trouble with boss, change in religion,
recreational and social activities, vacation and social
gathering etc.
Types of Defence Mechanisms
Psychologists have classified different defence
mechanisms in a number of ways. Some of them put
defence mechanisms in five or six main categories
while others extend them up to 17-18 categories.
Defence mechanisms are learned and designed to
tackle self devaluation, anxiety and hurt and operate
automatically at habitual levels. They typically involve
measures of self deception and distortion. Defence
mechanisms are usually exercised in combination
instead of singly and quite often they are combined
with task oriented behaviour. To a great extent they
are necessary to soften failure, alleviate anxiety and
hurt and protect feelings of significance adequacy and
worth. Normally, they are adjustive reactions but
sometimes they seriously interfere with the effective
resolution of stress. Defence mechanisms may feature
in a negative or a positive form.
The following is a list of the main types of defence
i) Projection
ii) Reaction formation
iii) Regression
iv) Repression
v) Rationalisation
vi) Denial of reality
vii) Fantasy
viii) Displacement
ix) Emotional Insulation
x) Intellectualisation (Isolation)
xi) Undoing
xii) Identification
xiii) Introjections
xiv) Compensation
xv) Acting out
xvi) Selective forgetting
xvii) Negativism

xviii) Sublimation