The Ego As A Defense Mechanism

910 words - 4 pages

The Ego as a Defense Mechanism

The function of defense is to protect the Ego, and defence may be instigated by Anxiety due to increase in instinctual tension, Super-Ego threats or realistic dangers. Anna Freud lists nine defence : REGRESSION, repression, REACTION FORMATION, ISOLATION, UNDOING, PROJECTION, INTROJECTION, TURNING AGAINST THE SELF, and REVERSAL - plus tenth SUBLIMATION. SPLITTING and DENIAL are also usually listed as defence.

It is usually assumed that defence belong to specific stages of development, e.g. INTROJECTION , projection, denial , splitting to the ORAL phase; reaction-formation , isolation and undoing to the ANAL phase.


Defence Mechanisms are unconscious mental processes which are employed to resolve conflict between instinctive needs ( The Id ), internalized prohibitions (The Super-Ego) and external reality. They Are directed against painful experiences. They are descriptive concepts only.

· Repression:-

It is the basic defence mechanism. There is refusal to recognize external reality and pushing into unconscious of the unacceptable instincts and feelings or conflicting impulses.

Thus their perception is inhibited and prevented from reaching consciousness. Denial is a CONSCIOUS refusal of recognition of external reality.

· Regression:-




Return to an earlier state or mode of functioning. It is a defensive process by which the subject avoids anxiety by return an earlier stage of psychosexual development . The stage to which the regression occurs being determined by the existence of FIXATION POINTS.

· Displacement:-

The process by which energ(CATHEXIS) is transferred from one mental image to another. Displacement is one of the primary processes and in dreams one image can symbolize another. Symbolization and SUBLIMATION depend on serial displacements.


· Avoidance:

This can occur in situations which arouse unpleasant feelings, memories or repressed conflicting impulses. It is more common in phobias.


· Reversal:-

Instincts are capable of undergoing reversal so that Sadism can change to Masochism , Voyeurism into Exhibitionism, etc. Reversal being usually , though not always from Active to Passive.


· OBSESSIONAL DEFENSES:-

· RATIONALIZATION:

Rational statement is given to avoid an inner unconscious aspect of an impulse or feeling. The classic example of the " Sour Grapes" in Aesop's fable. We all give justifications which may be reasonable for our decisions, acts , feelings and whims.

· INTELLECTUALIZATION:

Here a rationalized explanation is given , but in a rather theorizing and argumentative manner. For example a debate and discussion about value of psychoanalysis by patient may be a resistance against involvement in therapeutic relationship .

· REACTION FORMATION:-

This is feeling or a behavior which...

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