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Defense Mechanisms We All Use In Daily Life

Updated on June 30, 2013

Defense Is The Best Offense

To Protect And Preserve

Protection, well-being, safety, refuge from the unknown. These terms are all emotions we've expressed at one point or another in our lives.

In fact, as young children, we often held onto habits which continued to make us feel safe even when the time came to release these treasure troves of comfort.

But, why the need to feel protected and comforted? Wouldn't life seem more interesting if life was a series of unpredictable events based on the often elusive idea of the unknown?

Apparently, not, says the world of psychology and the need for human beings to seek comfort from pain, protection of danger or solace from tragedy.

Wikipedia provides a clearer understanding of human needs by noting the work of psychology theory which classifies the need for protection to be as a fundamental human need. People can only feel secure and content when their need to feel protected is met.

The website, Simply Psychology, provides a clearer understanding of a person's need to feel protected and the use of defense mechanisms.

It uses the work of Sigmund Freud to clarify the use of a defense mechanism. Sigmund Freud theorized that human emotion is both powerful and vulnerable in its need to secure and keep a person protected from times of uncertainty and insecurity.

Defense mechanisms, as it reveals, are subconscious coping tools used by humans to ward of feelings of anxiety and conflict.

In effect, protect human beings from situations in life that are periods of great anxiety and turmoil.


Common Defense Mechanism: Rationalization

Source

Common Defense Mechanisms: Defined

Using Defense Mechanisms In Daily Life

The website, Psychology Today, identifies the 9 major defense mechanisms we use to protect us from feelings of fear, emotions that make us feel uncomfortable, ideas that keep us grounded.

These include: Denial, Repression, Regression, Displacement, Projection, Reaction Formation, Intellectualization, Rationalization and Sublimation.

Using three of the following defense mechanisms, Denial, Displacement and Rationalization, a picture of various responses to daily stress and anxiety will become clearer.

Denial - "Forget About Defense Mechanisms; They Don't Exist!"

People use denial as a way of avoiding the memory of something painful that happened to them. This defense mechanism enables the person to avoid dealing with the emotions they have towards a painful time in life. In denying what happened, the person doesn't have to explain how they felt about an issue or how the issue may have affected them.

Real Life Example: Someone close to you (i.e family member, friend, colleague, pet) dies and you cannot remember attending the funeral of the deceased

Displacement - "Jim Thinks He Knows All About Defense Mechanisms; World! Stop Breathing My Air!"

People are great communicators. If they don't use verbal means to say something they mean, non-verbal cues are just as useful.

When using the defense mechanism of displacement, people express what they really feel through another means of communication. Instead of dealing with the source of their anxiety, displacing a feeling of anxiety is communicated through another form. Sometimes, unrelated.

Real Life Example: You had a terrible day at the office; you boss is a fanatic and micromanages everything you do. While driving on your commute homeward bound, you displace the anger you have towards your boss onto other people around you; you speed, engage in road rage issues, etc.

Rationalization - "Everyone Uses Defense Mechanisms As An Excuse; I'm Going To Do That Too!"

People are critical thinkers and equally staunch observers of what their fellow humans do and sometime get away with.

Using rationalization as a defense mechanism, people justify their reactions or behavior towards something using "good, beneficial" reasons to mask their real motivation (which, in this situation, is either unacceptable or society frowns upon)

Real Life Example: When your colleagues come back from lunch everyday about 10 minutes late and you've been prompt, you rationalize taking an additional 50 minutes of lunch at week's end.

If / when questioned about your habit, you remind the person who questions you about how you are prompt when others are not so you took take advantage; just not at the same time.

What Are Your Opinions?

Do Defense Mechanisms Help Or Hinder In Times Of Stress?

See results

Defend Your Feelings, Much?

Defense Mechanisms: Are They Helpful? Or Do They Hinder?

In gaining a better idea of our perception of self and we safely defend ourselves from emotions we'd rather not face, the debate in using defense mechanisms becomes an exercise in the practice of choosing how you will learn to approach issues in your life.

If your approach to life hinges on the motto, "Out of sight, out of mind", then, yes, using a defense mechanism is useful to your approach in life and how you choose to guard your emotions after experiencing an anxiety-laden situation.

In comparison, if you choose to be completely transparent in your life by choosing to accept and feel whatever emotion you will as you continue to encounter periods of great stress around you, maybe, then, using defense mechanisms to deal with uncomfortable issues actually hinders what it means for you to be human.

Ultimately, the decision lies with you.

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