Monday, January 9, 2012

6 Most Common Forms of Psychological Defense Mechanisms

Hello! Welcome to 2012! A fresh start in a new year, right? It's as if all your past problems melted away along with your hopes for snow, right? Sadly, the world doesn't work that way, and your problems of yesteryear are still present. Speaking of problems, wouldn't it be awesome if your body had a way with dealing away all your problems and woes to protect your little virgin mind? Wouldn't that be fantastic? It sure would! Thankfully, we have them. Below, you'll find the 7 most common, most observed forms of psychological "defense mechanisms".


Projection is described as subconsciously denying something about yourself and projecting it onto someone or something else. In a way, projection assists a person by helping them avoid that icky feeling accompanied by self-failure or fault. An example of projection could be being extremely prejudice, but refusing to accept that you are by exclaiming that everyone around you is prejudice. Another example would be blaming your mom's unceasing ranting to be the reason you didn't/couldn't do your homework.

"Blame my mom, all my problems somehow root to her."


Regression is one of most "top-notch" defense mechanisms on this list. Regression is the short/long-term return to childish or immature behavior at the face of a difficult situation. Instead of facing and dealing with a difficult situation in a adult manner, the person may regress back into toddler years. Thankfully for me, we've all be guilty of this and therefore, examples are easy. An example of regression could be a teenager being refused a extension of curfew and reacting to it by screaming, crying, and throwing a tantrum. Another example would be telling your friend to "suck it" after being asked to borrow your car.

"You want my car, do you?!"


With almost no relation to regression, repression is the psychological attempt to hide/bury thoughts, feelings and memories in favor of favorable ones. Why think about that time you failed your final exam when you can think of beautiful hedgehogs on YouTube? In all seriousness, a boy that was molested as a child may eventually repress such memories and just "forget them".

Sometimes, these memories eventually re-surface and the victim is found re-faced with the old problems at a possible new light. (You could get a hypnoHowever, I must remind you all that it was extremely common for a repressed memory to have never occurred whatsoever. While our brains are one of the wonders of the modern universe, it's not that good at remembering what happened between leaving the uterus, to today. A simple example would be being abused as a child and never recalling the abuse as an adult.

"My biggest regret is not remembering the warmth my my mother's amniotic fluids."


Displacement is the subconscious redirection or displacement of a negative entity that is seen as unacceptable to another entity that is seen as acceptable. Instead of putting your psychological anguish into something your head deems as unacceptable or even dangerous, it is into something that appears safer. A rudimentary example would be getting yelled at in work and in turn yelling at your roommates when you get home. While that example may seem "uncommon" for you super-mature mind of your own, displacement is actually extremely evident in everyday life. Another example of displacement could be punching your pillow or posting passive aggressive updates on your Facebooks as a way to deal with your "stress". Pumping that stress ball around is a clear-cut example of displacement.

Pictured: Displacement


Rationalization is the subconscious attempt to justify and/or explain a controversial behavior with the use of logic, in a futile attempt to avoid a true explanation. In laymen's terms, it's making excuses. An example of this would be stealing from your dad's wallet under the rationalization that your dad makes plenty of money and wouldn't miss a few bucks. This defense mechanism acts as a way to protect you from guilt, telling you that it's going to be alright, even if it's not. Another example would be telling yourself that you've earned the right to cut class since you've been to class every day that term. It's all in your head.

"I think answering this single truth or false question on my homework has earned me a cookie."

Reaction Formation

Reaction formation is possibly one of most interesting defense mechanisms on this list. Reaction formation is the subconscious process in which you act as if you were in the complete opposite position. An example of reaction formation would be going around and protesting animal abuse while abusing animals at home. With this defense mechanism, you can easily live with what you've been doing, by simply following your body's instinct. It might not be as uncommon for a actual homosexual to openly criticize other homosexuals in a subconscious way to help protect themselves from social outcasting, subconsciously. (Works consciously too!)

So if you think that you've gone completely insane after laughing at a funeral, "take comfort to know that it's one of your defense mechanisms." (Rationalization much?)

"I hate this guy."

These defense mechanisms aren't here to guide you to mature mind, but you protect you from yourself. Instead of facing possible personal anguish about murdering someone, you may repress it in order to deal with it. You may find yourself trying to rationalize cutting class, or dealing with your anxiety by jogging around a few blocks. At the end of the day, these mechanisms are made to throw a sheet over a fire while what's best for you is jumping straight through it.