Short List of Common Psychological Defenses (denials, barriers, etc.)
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Compensation - Person increases effort in one area to make up for a perceived or real inadequacy in some other area. Example: President of a volunteer organization who has never advanced very far up the hierarchy in his or her profession but who has had the desire to do so.
Conversion - Emotional difficulty is expressed physically. Example: A headache that keeps me away from a class that I dislike.
Displacement - Directing feelings about one object or subject toward another “safer” one. Example: After failing an exam, going home and kicking the dog, attacking your roommate, younger brother, etc.
Fantasy - Daydreaming or imagining situations so as to avoid thinking objectively about reality. Example: A student majoring in Business, dreaming about the day when she is an important executive with a lot of status, money, and decisions to make.
Identification - Individual patterns his own behavior and values after another’s and gets involved vicariously with that person. Example: the eager subordinate who takes on the speech, mannerisms, and viewpoints of the boss.
Negativism - Unconscious tearing down or condemnation of a subject or object in an active or passive way. Example: The student who, after being refused admission to the college of first choice, finds much wrong with that institution.
Projection - Seeing our own unwanted feelings and traits in others. Example: A person who wants to block the success of others, sees others as being out to get (or bock) her or him.
Rationalization - Finding superficially “rational” justifications for undesirable behavior, values, motivations, or statements. Example: Cheeting on my taxes because “everybody does it”.
Reaction - Formation Having the opposite feelings, values, attitudes, and behaviors – opposite to those unacceptable ones which I unconsciously have. Example: Exaggerated praise of the boss who unconsciously fear.
Regression - Person returns to an earlier stage of development in the face of anxiety. Example: After getting promoted to an ew job which is too challenging, the manager begins doing the work of her subordinates, or the work of her past position.
Fixation - Stuck on one behavior that is obviously not going to help with the problem being faced. Example: Running football plays that depend upon an expert quarterback, even though our expert quarterback is no longer with us.
Resignation - Not being involved with the environment. Breaking emotional contact. Boredom- apathy. Example: Having failed in achieving my goal of an “A” average, I no longer care about school.
Withdrawal - Avoiding the area of frustration by physically and/or psychologically removing myself. Example: I’m having problems with my roommate. So, I find ways not to spend much time in the room and, when in his company, I keep myself busy with things that don’t involve him.
Aggression - Taking and/or attacking someone else’s “psychological space”(and/or physical attack) as a means of protecting myself. Example: I dislike the music that you like. So, I hide your tapes, tell you that you are to play your music (instead of negotiating a solution), or play my music more than I ordinarily would.
Submissiveness - Giving up my “psychological and/or physical space” as a means of protecting myself. Example: I dislike your music. So, I say nothing and allow you to play your music whenever you want to and/ or, I always let you play your music, even when I want to play my own.
Extreme Behavior - Behaviors which are excessive for the situation. Examples: I am easily persuaded or I never can be persuaded. “Hot temper” or never gets angry. Perceiving things in simplistic terms: black/white, good/bad, right/wrong, etc.
*Rules of thumb: Defensive behavior is any behavior that attempts to overcome a barrier (threat) to a goal. The goal can be conscious or unconscious and is most often unconscious. Overcoming a barrier is often a denial of reality (rather than confronting the reality as a means of deciding what to do about it). Realities are what make barriers (threats) to goals. One’s perception must be seen as one’s reality. However, distorted perceptions are denials.