Paper Example on Defense Mechanisms

Published: 2021-06-29
1115 words
5 pages
10 min to read
University of California, Santa Barbara
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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The defense mechanisms were conceptualized and they were clarified by Anna Freud in different categories. The classification of the defense mechanisms are according to their properties that had been successfully attempted and they are classified in four categories they are; healthy or mature defenses, unhealthy or the immature defenses, the neurotic defenses and the Pathological defenses.

Mature defenses:


This is the usage of instinctually gratifying services and valuable services to the others when undergoing a common experience, which also includes the construction reaction formation. This defense mechanism is associated with the altruistic surrender, whereby a submission of instinctual needs or direct gratification takes place in favor to fulfill the others needs to the detriment of the self through this satisfaction can only be enjoyed vicariously by introjection.


This is a way of using comedy to express thoughts and feelings without personal discomfort or immobilization the comedy should not produce an unpleasant effect to other persons. This allows a person to tolerate and also focus on what is terrible to the borne.


Sublimation allows one's instincts to be channeled, rather than being diverted or blocked. Therefore it is achieving impulse gratification and retention of individuals goals but also alters the socially objectionable aim or the objects to a socially acceptable ways.


This is planning for the future personal discomforts. These mechanisms are goal directed and imply a careful planning or anxious and premature but also the realistic emotional anticipation of the dire and the possible future dreadful outcomes.


It is semiconsciously or consciously postponing attentions to a conscious conflict or impulse. The issues can be deliberately cut off, but they cannot be avoided. Therefore the discomforts are often acknowledged but also minimized.

Immature defenses:


A way of escaping from reality or the real problems is known as fantasy. Fantasy can be brought about when one imagines that he or he is successful especially when the reality if the opposite of the success imagined. Fantasy can be active since it can also be a rehearsal for the future success or negative when one imagines about the worst consequences that can lead to fear. Moreover imagining the solution to the problem without solving the problems makes one leave in a world of fantasy they created without actually solving the real problems.


It is transiently or temporarily inhibiting thinking. The impulses and the distresses may be involved. Blocking resembles repression, but they also differ in such a way that tension arises when the pulse is inhibited.

Act out

The expression of desire through actions to avoid being conscious of the accompanying effects is refer to an Act out. The fantasy is lived out impulsively into behavior, hence gratifying the desire rather than discouraging it. This defense mechanism property also involves chronically giving into an unconscious fantasy to avoid tension that would result from the adjournment of the expression.


This is an attempt to an earlier libidinal phase of functioning to prevent conflicts and tensions evoked by the level of developments at that present period. Therefore reflecting the basic tendency to gain instinctual gratification in a less-developed period. Moreover, regression is a normal phenomenon and a certain amount of regression is necessary for relaxation, sexual, and sleep. Regression is considered an essential concomitant of creative processes.


It is when one express aggression towards other persons indirectly through passively, behavior, masochism and also turning against the self. The manifestations of this behavior also include procrastination, failure, and illnesses that affect the other individuals more that it affects one's self.

Neurotic defenses:


It is the shifting of emotion from one idea to another that resembles the original in some qualities or aspects. Therefore movement permits the symbolic representation of the original design by evoking less distress.


It is an attempt to regulate events or the objects in the environment. To only minimize anxieties and to also resolve the inner conflicts.


The separation of the ideas from the distresses that which accompanies it but also repressed. Therefore social isolation refers to absence of the object relationships


It is the process of constructing a logical justification for those decisions that had originally arrived but in a different mental process. Therefore most persons make excuses for their mistakes, and by doing so, they avoid condemnation by others and by them. According to the author, there are two types or rationalization are the sour grapes for example if one fails to get into a medical school and he or she justifies themselves by saying to themselves that they would have been terrible is they had been doctors. The second type of the rationalization is the silver lining, this is the assumption that everything happened for the best reasons so that one should find the blessing in disguise.


Temporary and drastically modifying one's character or ones sense of personal identity to avoid emotional distress. Hysterical conversations are the common manifestations of dissociation. Dissociations can be found in counterphobic behavior and the use of pharmacological highs or the spiritual joy.



This is attributing to others ones own unwanted emotions. Projection reduces anxiety in a way that allows expression of the impulse, without letting the ego to recognize it. This defense mechanism projects ones own undesirable thoughts onto someone else. According to Freud analysis paranoid projections, the homosexual libidinal impulses which is then transformed into hatred and projected onto the object of unacceptable homosexual impulse.


Distorting is the reshaping of external realities in order to suite the inner needs by using the sustainable feelings of delusional entitlement.


This is when one avoids the awareness of painful aspects of reality by negating the sensory data. Although the repression property defends against effects and drives derivatives, denial abolishes the external reality. Therefore denial may be used in both pathological and normal states. Anna Freud classifies the denial as the mechanism of the immature minds because it conflicts with the ability to learn and cope with the reality. Avoiding and understanding contradictions are necessary in the treatment of different diseases.


According to Freud most of these defense mechanisms are negative. In conclusion, these defense mechanisms are neither negative nor positive. It only depends on the period and how these defense mechanisms are used. The defense mechanisms are mostly used to protect ones self from pain. However, most of these pains are temporary, and therefore one will eventually face the real situations at last, and if the individual refuses to deal with this situations, they cross the thin line between the healthy and unhealthy use of psychology. Hence the ultimate solution is by addressing the original pain.


Freud, A. 1993. The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense. Karnac Books.

American Psychiatric Association. 1994. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.


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