Define defense mechanisms. Name three types, giving examples of how an individual may use each.
A defense mechanism is a tactic developed by the ego to protect against anxiety. Defense mechanisms are thought to safeguard the mind against feelings and thoughts that are too difficult for the conscious mind to cope with. In some instances, defense mechanisms are thought to keep inappropriate or unwanted thoughts and impulses from entering the conscious mind. For example, if you are faced with a particularly unpleasant task, your mind may choose to forget your responsibility in order to avoid the dreaded assignment. In addition to forgetting, other defense mechanisms include denial, repression and projection.
In denial, is one of the best known defense mechanisms, used often to describe situations in which people seem unable to face reality or admit an obvious truth? Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. Drug addicts or alcoholics often deny that they have a problem, while victims of traumatic events may deny that the event ever occurred.
Denial functions to protect the ego from things that the individual cannot cope with. While this may save us from anxiety or pain, denial also requires a substantial investment of energy. Because of this, other defenses are also used to keep these unacceptable feelings from consciousness. For example, when someone learns of the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, at first he or she may not be able to accept the reality of this loss. The initial denial protects that person from the emotional shock and intense grief that often accompanies news of death. Chronic or terminal illnesses also encourage denial. People with such illnesses may think, "It's not so bad; I'll get over it," and refuse to make any lifestyle changes.
Repression is the unconscious blocking of unacceptable thoughts, feelings and impulses. The key to repression is that people do it...