Theories of defence mechanisms

Currently reading ‘Psychology for dummies’, which breaks down various areas of psychology into bitesize chunks. This is perfect as it consumes less reading time, but a better overview of what areas I should look into further in future readings.

The topic of Freud’s theory of defence mechanism really clicked with me. Especially with current topics of narcissists, gas lighing, bullying and sociopath labels on social media, tv and across blogs. These attacking personalities might possibly just be mistaken because of the nature of these defence mechanisms when reactions occur after a confrontational situation, but it’s still good to know the difference when someone attacks you for no reason or makes something out of nothing. Types of mechanisms noted are;

  1. Denial – Refusing to accept that something exists or happened.
  2. Projection – Guilty concious turned into a jealous rage or attack.
  3. Rationalisation – Creating an acceptable explaination for the situation to make it look a justifiable behaviour.
  4. Intellectualisation – Thinking about something ‘logically’, from a detached point of view.
  5. Reaction formation – Doing the opposite of what you would really like to do to ‘look like the bigger person’ or defuse the sitatuation quickly.
  6. Regression – Returning to an earlier or more childlike form of defense.

These are all mechanisms I’m sure we’ve used at least once in our lives and personally, I’m glad to be able to recognise these in other people when I need to remind myself they’re not against me, just for themselves. Be it the bill collectors, work colleagues or family.


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