Monday, March 5, 2012

Other Defense Mechanisms

Though the more well known facet of Freud's theory of personality is the id, ego, and superego, to me, defense mechanisms are much more fascinating. They are the means or techniques by which the ego unconsciously protects itself against unpleasant impulses or circumstances. The six listed in our textbook (repression, projection, displacement, reaction formation, regression, denial) are the primary defenses but there are others that the ego employs to combat certain conflicts.

Compensation is when a person emphasizes an area of personal strength to deflect from an area of personal failure. An example of this could be when an athlete is proud of his or her accomplishments on the field but hardly ever in the classroom.

Identification is when a person associates with others of a higher status in order to increase his or her own status. This could occur when a young businessman tries to impress his coworkers with a new car or other expensive item, that he may only be leasing or renting; he makes it seem as though he owns it to fit in.

Intellectualization is when a person describes a painful or traumatizing event in academic terms, meaning he or she takes the emotion out of the situation. For instance, if a student were to get a failing grade on a project he or she felt was the best work he or she had ever done, the student may place the blame on the educational system at large and its 'outdated' grading standards.

Rationalization is when a person makes logical excuses to explain illogical behavior, like a person who quit smoking lighting up to reduce the strain of a head cold.

Sublimation is when a person uses exercise or other rigorous physical activities to combat sexual or aggressive energies. One example of this could be when a boy likes a girl but she is unattainable for some reason, so he works out his frustration by overexerting himself with, perhaps too much, exercise.

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