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Here’s How You Identify Some Common Defense Mechanisms

by Afshara 5 months ago in how to
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Do you use any of these defense mechanisms? Let’s find out.

Source: Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

The defense mechanism is one sort of method which helps our mind to deal with anxiety and unpleasant emotions. They are unconscious processes that are used without the person’s knowledge.

Sigmund Freud, a psychoanalyst, used the term “defense mechanisms” to describe how people behave. Humans, according to Freud, employ defensive mechanisms instinctively to dodge unpleasant emotions and feelings.


Many of us have an unconscious protection mechanism that helps us to deal with negative feelings when we are confronted with any ambiguity. Defense mechanisms can be beneficial in those situations as they enable us from rumination or doing something that could have negative consequences. At least for a shorter period, we maintain a healthier state of being. However, in the long term, these defense systems have an adverse impact. If we use our defensive mechanisms on a regular basis, it might actually impair the efficacy of our emotion control process. We tend to feel as if we don’t have control over our emotions, which makes it difficult to deal with our problems.

Thus, it is crucial to becoming more aware of your own distinctive patterns so that your defensive systems don’t get in the way of your personal growth.

How do you deal with high-stress situations? Do you find yourself in denial when you receive any sad news? Do you find yourself getting justifications for your actions all of the time?

These are only a few cases of popular defensive mechanisms that might hinder your growth. Although each individual has their own defense mechanisms, many of them are similar and easily recognizable.


The following are some of the most commonly applied defensive mechanisms:

1) Denial

Some might choose denial to avoid dealing with painful feelings or aspects of their lives that they are not ready to accept.

A spouse, for example, may deny seeing clear indications of his wife’s adultery. A student may deny acknowledging their insufficient exam preparation.

2) Repression

In this mechanism, certain emotions that might cause the super-ego to feel guilty are frequently suppressed. Repressed memories can resurface through subconscious processes and in various forms, like dreams or slips of the tongue.

3) Projection

Projection is a psychological defense mechanism proposed by Anna Freud in which an individual attributes unwanted thoughts, feelings, and motives onto another person.

For example, you may despise someone, yet your superego reminds you that this is not appropriate. You resolve this dilemma by convincing yourself that they despise you.

4) Displacement

This sort of mechanism happens when a person wants to do something that the superego condemns. As a result, the Ego seeks another method of discharging the psychic energy of the person. Thereby, the energy is transferred from a repressed object to a more permissible object.

For instance, someone who is dissatisfied with his or her authority figures may go home and beat up a family member, or participate in activities like cross-burnings.

5) Regression

Regression is a type of escape that allows a person to mentally travel back in time to a moment when they felt comfortable and safe. When we feel distressed or scared, we tend to act more childlike or primitively.

For instance, when presented with a social situation involving the opposite sex, teens may laugh hysterically.

6) Sublimation

Sublimation is similar to displacement but takes place when we manage to displace our unacceptable emotions into behaviors that are constructive and socially acceptable, rather than destructive activities. Sublimation is one of Anna Freud’s original defense mechanisms.

Most famous artists and musicians use their sad life experiences and utilize music as a tool to express themselves. Sport is one other example of channeling negative emotions for instance aggressiveness into something positive.

7) Rationalization

Rationalizations may come so naturally to many people especially with fragile egos that they are never totally aware of it. To put it another way, many of us are willing to trust our lies. When reality is hard to accept, an individual will create a reasonable explanation for why it occurred. A person might, for instance, interpret a natural calamity as ‘God’s will.’

Bottom Line

Even the proper usage of ego defense mechanisms and other forms of defense mechanisms can prevent you from achieving your objectives and enjoying the life of your dreams. Why? As they are all about avoiding accepting the truth. You must be upfront with yourself and accept responsibility for your own feelings in order to complete the self-improvement process.

Thank you for reading

Disclaimer: The original version of this story was published on another platform.

Link to original version:


Holland, K. (2019, February 11). 10 defense mechanisms: What are they and how they help us cope. Healthline.

Mcleod, S. (2017, May 5). Defense mechanisms. Simply Psychology.

Sissons, C. (2020, July 31). Defense mechanisms in psychology: What are they? Medical News Today.

Tony, T. (2021, December 16). 10 defense mechanisms and how to overcome them. Tonyrobbins.Com.

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About the author


PhD Student (Management) | Research Enthusiast | Content Writer | Writing about the things that intrigues my curious mind.

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