The term ‘ Defence Mechanism’ was first
used by sigmund freud in his paper “The
Neuro-Psychoses of defence” (1894).
Anna (1937) developed the ideas given by
Freud and elaborated them, adding 5 other
In his psychoanalytical theory ,
Freud explained a defence
mechanism is a tactic developed
by ego to protect against anxiety .
mechanism is the
act or technique of
The process is
For example :- if you are faced with a particularly
unpleasant task our mind may choose to forget
your responsibility in order to avoid the dreaded
assignment . In addition to forgetting , other
defence mechanism include rationalization ,
denial , repression , rejection etc .
in Freudian Psychoanalytical theory,
Defence Mechanism are psychological
strategies brought into play by the
unconscious mind to manipulate , deny or
distort reality in order to defend against
feelings of anxiety & unacceptable
impulses to maintain one’s self schema .
Defence Mechanism , in Psychoanalytical
theory , any of a group mental processes
that enables the mid to reach compromise
solutions to conflicts that is unable to
Classification of defence
Primitive less primitive Mature
Is the substitution of a
safe & reasonable
explanation for the true
cause of behaviour .
It occurs when we tell an
element of truth but deny
the larger truth of the
Example:- a student who
cheats on a test may say :
“I only cheated on a few
question , i know most of
When someone is
under a lot of
stress, they return
to behavior from
an earlier stage of
Also known as
back journey .
Ex:- a lady regressed into adolescent starts to walk
, talk or dress like as her younger self .
When a person is confronted to some loss may be
back journey to a stage which had been more
pleasant & successful in his lifetime .
Satisfying an impulse ( Ex- aggression) with a
substitute object in a socially acceptable way .
This is similar to displacement but occurs when
we manage to displace our emotions into a
constructive rather than destructive manner .
Refocusing such unacceptable or harmful
impulses into productive use helps a person to
channel the energy that otherwise would be
lost or used in a manner might cause a person
more anxiety .
Sport is an
example of putting
our emotions into
If someone faces
failure or rejection
they try to
withdraw from that
Ex:- fear of
making friends .
To transfer an impulse or idea from a
threatening object to a less threatening
Denial involves blocking
external events from
awareness . If some
situation is too much to
handle , the person refuses
to experience it .
Most people use denial in
their everyday lives to avoid
dealing wit painful feelings
or areas of their life they
don’t wish to admit .
7) Identification mechanism
A focus on negative or feared traits i.e. if you are
afraid of someone , you can practically conquer
that fear by becoming more like them .
It can be identified as a mental mechanism
beyond conscious awareness through which an
individual tries to make himself like someone else
with the terrorists .
E.g.:- Patty Hearst
& the Symbionse
Libertian Army .
Is a sort of
can provide an
frustration by giving
Fantasy is a
mechanism of wishful
thinking & important
for creative thinking
It is a process of psychologically
counterbalancing perceived weakness by
emphasizing strength in other areas .
It may be positive or negative .
Ex:- when a person says, “I may not know
how to cook but i can sure do the dishes”.
“OK, maybe I’ll never be able to pass the
class, but I’ll have fun and that teacher will
This defence mechanism helps to reinforce a
person’s self esteem & self image .
Direct compensation Indirect compensation
when we try to make
up the deficiency in the
same area by putting
more effort , by taking
guidance from people,
tutors , teachers ,
becomes an attractive
When we try to make up
the deficiency of an area
into some other area .
Extreme form of indirect
compensation in found in
Ex:- If one is not good in
sports , they can
overcome in studies .
10) Repression :-
This was the first defence mechanism that
Freud discovered & the most important one.
It is an unconscious mechanism employed by
the ego to keep disturbing or threatening
thoughts becoming conscious .
It is the withdrawal from consciousness of an
unwanted idea, affect or desire by pushing it
down or repressing it , into the unconscious
part of the mind .
It can be defined as Motivated Forgetting .
Example:- Hysterical Amnesia , in
which the victim has performed or
witnessed dome disturbing act & then
completely forgotten the act itself & the
circumstances surrounding it .
Repression is caused due to forces
active within ourselves . We try to
forget what makes us feel inferior ,
ashamed , guilty & anxious .
11) Reaction formation :-
Expressing emotions that are the exactly
opposite of what you feel.
Conceal anger/hate with kindness.
Teasing/bothering someone you like.
It is converting the dangerous or
unacceptable thoughts , feelings or impulses
into their opposites.
This is a point where a person goes beyond
denial & behaves in the opposite way to which
he or she thinks or feel .
It is also called Reversal Formation .
Example:- a woman , who is very angry with her boss
and want to quit instead may be overly kind and
generous towards her boss .
Is the misattribution of a person’s
undesired thoughts, feelings or impulses
onto another person who doesn’t have
thoughts, feelings or thoughts .
Projection occurs when an individual
threatened by his own angry feelings
accuses another of harbouring hostile
People deal with unacceptable impulses by
acting as if other people have them .
Example:- spouse cheats on wife and says that she is
also a cheater .
Is a mechanism by which an individual
draws the attention of other persons . The
person develops strong and irrational
resistance in accepting the suggestions of
The foundation of this mechanism is laid
down in childhood . Most of the adults use
negativism in milder forms in special
situations . They don’t oppose but they do
resist suggestion given by other .
Defence mechanism helps to reduce the
anxiety & help an individual to adjust better
. But too much of everything is bad . Same
is true with defence mechanism . Children
should be guarded against too much use of
defence mechanism . Because once they
start using them it will became a habit with
them & later on they will be using it
McLeod, S. A. (2009). Defense
Mechanisms. Retrieved from
Defense mechanism: Encyclopaedia
John M. Grohol. Psy .D , Psych central .
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