What’s Your Favorite Defense Mechanism?
Everyone has defense mechanisms, even if they don’t know it. You probably have more than one as well, depending on what kind of situation you’re in. These defense mechanisms are ways that people protect themselves from getting hurt. They can be a positive way of handling difficult emotions or experiences. However, when defense mechanisms are overused or used as the default response to things, they can become problematic.
Denial is a defense mechanism where you refuse to accept the reality of a situation. It can come into play when you’re feeling threatened, worried or stressed about something. You may not want to deal with the reality of your situation, so you simply ignore it. Denial is often a temporary response, but it can be long-lasting if it’s combined with other defense mechanisms. Denial can be harmful if it causes you to miss out on important steps you need to take to deal with a problem.
Repression is a defense mechanism where you push memories, feelings or ideas out of your conscious awareness. Some experts believe that repressing memories can cause you to create new memories that aren’t connected to your true self. When memories are repressed, you can’t access them in the same way that you would normally.
Identification is when you take on the traits of someone you admire. It’s a way of connecting with people or finding a role model to look up to. You might identify with your parents, professors or other people you know, or even with fictional characters or celebrities. Identification can have both benefits and drawbacks. It can help you build a strong sense of self and set goals for yourself, but it can also lead you to try to model your behavior after someone who isn’t a good role model.
Displacement is when you direct feelings that you have towards someone or something else. You might direct anger or frustration that you feel towards a specific person towards a different person instead, or direct your sexual urges toward someone who isn’t sexually attractive to you. Displacement can be harmful because it redirects emotions toward people who aren’t responsible for the things you’re angry about.
Intellectualization is when you view an emotional situation as if it’s an intellectual problem you can solve. This can help you detach from your emotions and gain a more objective view of a situation. Disadvantages of intellectualization include avoiding your emotions and needing to rely on this defense mechanism in many situations. It can also lead to you overvaluing intellect and being unnecessarily detached from other people.