6. Defense Mechanisms
Defense mechanisms are unconscious behaviors or psychological strategies people use to avoid
experiencing anxiety, discomfort, or threats to the ego.
There are different types of defense mechanisms, ranging from primitive and neurotic to mature
and adaptive. The healthier end of the spectrum might be more accurately described as positive
coping strategies, whereas the other end of the spectrum represents emotional dysregulation,
dysfunctional self-protective behaviors, and high internal conflict. (The latter is more typically what
people are referring to when they use the term "defense mechanism.")
7. Theories of
The id, which is responsible for unconscious and
primal cravings for hunger, comfort, and sex.
The superego, which is responsible for a partially
conscious drive toward moral and societal standards.
The ego, which acts as a moderating factor between
the id and superego, are his three competing forces.
According to this theory, anxiety develops when the
superego's needs and the id's needs conflict. The ego
employs self-deception techniques to alleviate the stress
by avoiding the discomfort. For instance, the undesirable
idea or emotion could be rejected, justified, or transferred
onto someone else.
Freud's theory of personality serves as the foundation for
defense mechanisms. According to his model, the mind has
three dueling forces:
8. Defense Mechanism Brief Description Example
Displacement Taking feelings out on others
Being angry at your boss but taking it out on your spouse
Denial Denying that something exists
Being the victim of a violent crime, yet denying that the
Unconsciously keeping unpleasant information from your
Being abused as a child but not remembering the abuse
Consciously keeping unpleasant information from your
Being abused as a child but choosing to push it out of your
Converting unacceptable impulses into more acceptable
Being upset with your spouse but going for a walk instead of
Assigning your own unacceptable feelings or qualities to
Feeling attracted to someone other than your spouse, then
fearing that your spouse is cheating on you
Intellectualization Thinking about stressful things in a clinical way
Losing a close family member and staying busy with making
the necessary arrangements instead of feeling sad
Rationalization Justifying an unacceptable feeling or behavior with logic
Being denied a loan for your dream house, then saying it's a
good thing because the house was too big anyway
Regression Reverting to earlier behaviors
Hugging a teddy bear when you're stressed, like you did when
you were a child
Reaction Formation Replacing an unwanted impulse with its opposite Being sad about a recent breakup, but acting happy about it
10. Dealing with
Several types of defense mechanisms are
unconscious. It isn’t always easy to hold yourself
accountable, but it is possible.
Looking at defense mechanism examples can help
you recognize behavior patterns in your own life.
Once you’re more familiar with different defense
mechanisms, you can replace harmful habits with
healthier coping skills. You may be able to relate
these examples of defense mechanisms to aspects
of your own life.
11. THINKING PATTERNS
Closed Thinking - Not Receptive
Not Self Critical
Good at pointing cut, giving feedback on faults of others
Lies by omission
Views self as victim (will blame social condition, family, past)
Views Self As A Good Person
Focuses only on your own positive attributes
Fails to acknowledge your own destructive behavior
Builds self up at other’s expense
Lack of Effort
Unwilling to do anything you find boring or disagreeable
“I can’t” meaning “I won’t”
Lack of Interest in Responsible Performance
Responsible living is “unexciting and unsatisfying”
No sense of obligation
Will respond here only if you get an immediate payoff
Lack of Time Perspective
Does not use past as learning tool
Expects others to act immediately on your demands
Makes decisions on assumptions, not facts
Fear of Fear
Has irrational fears but refuses to admit them
Fundamental fear of injury or death
Profound fear of put-down
When held accountable- experiences “ zero- state”- feels worthless
A compelled need to be in control of every situation
Uses manipulation and deceit
Refuses to be dependent unless can take advantage of….
Different and better than others
Expects of others that which you fail to meet
Super optimism – cuts fear of failure
Quits at first sign of failure
Perceives all things, people as objects to possess
No concept of ownership, rights of others
Sex for power and control – not intimacy
12. Defense Mechanism Matching Game
FLIGHT INTO HEALTH
LYING BY COMISSION
LYING BY OMISSION
DIAGNOSIS OF SELF
AS BEYOND HELP
13. A. Making everything into a comedy routine, keeping everything on
the surface without addressing deeper issues
B. Making the behavior someone else’s fault
C. Making the behavior sound normal
D. Avoidance, silence, avoiding confrontation
E. Using anger to discourage others from offering input, possibly
violent or rageful, foul language
F. Directly stating something that is not true
G. Justification, making excuses, trying to make it sound as if
behavior was “rational”
H. Having all of the answers (If you don’t know why this is a problem,
you may be experiencing it)
I. Leaving out important information
J. Flat out denying the existence or occurrence of reality
K. Believing we are cured based on one positive change or action
L. Distorting Information
M. Minimal responses
N. Taking negative feelings from one situation and directing them to
O. Acting pathetic so others are afraid to confront
P. Pretending to follow along, saying the right things, no intention of
Q. When a person proclaims and explains how their problem is so
bad that they cannot be helped
R. Acting as if actions only affect self
S. Evaluation others
T. Knows everything about topics, doesn’t relate issue to self, global
issues not personal
U. Trying to make something appear smaller than it really is
Defense Mechanism Matching Game
14. What are
Thinking Errors- also known as
cognitive distortions, these are illogical
and extreme ways of thinking that may
lead to mental and emotional problems.
This kind of thinking frequently feeds
depression, anxiety, worry, and anger
16. How Can We Identify
Challenging and reframing unhelpful thoughts can be significantly
improved when you can categorize them as thinking errors.
Once you know how they sound, it’s easy to identify if one of your
thoughts is a thinking error. When you identify a thought as a
thinking error, it’s much more likely to lose its credibility, leading
you to feel less anxious, sad or angry.
In other words, recognizing and labelling thinking errors when they
arise can significantly improve our ability to start escaping the
17. How to Correct Thinking Errors?
Catching our minds engaging in thinking errors and labelling
them can be an effective way to avoid making them and tackling
anxiety and other challenging emotions in our everyday lives.
18. Some Practical
1) Start a daily journal.
• Pick your favorite medium (a notebook, your notes app or anything
else) and write down the negative emotions you feel daily (e.g., anxiety,
worry, sadness, etc.).
• Then, next to them, jot down the thoughts associated with those
emotions (e.g., “my boss thinks I am rubbish”). To do this, ask yourself,
“What thought, or image is making me feel distressed?”.
2) Identify and Label your Thinking Errors.
• After step one, take a look at the table (next slide) below, with a list of
some of the most well-known thinking errors, and see if any of the
thoughts you wrote down can be labelled as thinking errors.
3) Reality Check!
• Once you have identified any of your thoughts as thinking errors, it’s
time for a reality check.
• Ask yourself whether they are actually true and remind yourself that
these cognitive distortions are known to be unrealistic, extreme and
irrational. There is very likely no-good reason to believe them.
Repeating these steps consistently has the potential to help you
gradually reduce your anxiety (as well as other negative emotions).
19. Getting stuck in
(and how to get