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How To Lead A Stress Free Lifestyle

Defense mechanisms 3

This is the last in the series of outlining the defense mechanisms that a person may use in day to day activities and that also define his problems. Displacement is shifting of an emotion from one idea or object to another that resembles the original in some aspect or quality. It permits the symbolic representation of the original idea by one that is less highly cathected and evokes less distress. Thus praising the car of a young girl by her friend may actually be a displacement of feelings of love for her onto the car as expression of love towards may be producing anxiety in anticipation of a rejection and the consequent sadness that he may feel. Externalization is the tendency to perceive in the external world and in external objects elements of one’s own personality, including impulses, conflicts, moods, attitudes, and styles of thinking. For e.g. attributing one’s lack of desire to work on the climate or on the environmental difficulties. Inhibition is consciously limiting or renouncing some desire to evade the anxiety arising out of its fulfillment. For e.g. not being able to tell one’s parents about one’s friend and henceforth renouncing friendships completely to avoid that anxiety. Isolation is the absence of desires in order to avoid the anxiety of fulfilling them. Rationalization and intellectualization are also very commonly used. It is offering rational explanations in an attempt to justify attitudes, beliefs or behavior that may otherwise be unacceptable. It is to avoid emotional expressions or experience. Undue emphasis is focused on the inanimate in order to avoid intimacy with people, attention is paid to reality to avoid the expression of inner feelings, and stress is excessively placed on irrelevant details to avoid perceiving the whole. For e.g. the husband can cite financial and economic difficulties, tough market and increasing expenses to work more and stay away from the family. The inner anxiety may be about his inability to handle the family. Reaction formation is transforming an unacceptable impulse into its opposite. For e.g. someone with impulses to destroy an object may be taking care in a irritating manner – overdoing the care part least the impulse to destroy the object comes up into action. Repression is expelling or withholding an idea or feeling from the consciousness.  Help-rejecting complaining is a defense in which the person complains or makes repetitious requests for help that disguise covert feelings of hostility or reproach towards others, which are then expressed by rejecting the suggestions, advice or help that others offer. Idealization is one in which others are attributed with exaggerated positive qualities. For e.g. a patient may go to a doctor with the idealization that he may be able to solve all the person’s problems including not only the physical complaints but also the financial, social and interpersonal problems that the patient has. Devaluation is the opposite by which the individual attributes exaggerated negative qualities to self or others. For e.g. a son might idealize the father as being able to possess solutions to all his problems and himself as extremely inept in solving anything. The purpose of this might be to remain attached to the father. This remains in the unconscious. Omnipotence is a defense where the individual feels or acts as if he or she possesses special powers or abilities and is superior to others. This is a defense against feelings of inferiority which may generate anxiety. Splitting is a major defensive mechanism when the individual deals with conflict by compartmentalizing opposite emotional states and failing to integrate the positive and negative qualities of the self and others into cohesive images. Because ambivalent emotions cannot be expressed simultaneously, more balanced views and expectations of the self or others are excluded from emotional awareness. Self and object images tend to alternate between polar opposites; exclusively loving, powerful, worthy, nurturant, and kind or exclusively bad, hateful, angry, destructive, rejecting or worthless. For e.g. a person may see the mother at times as extremely loving and kind when she does what she wishes and henceforth reacts in a very affectionate way to this part, but it is unable to see that it is the same mother who does not give in to all his wishes and henceforth gets extremely derogatory towards her. Self-observation is reflection on one’s own thoughts, feelings, motivation, and behavior and responding appropriately. Self-assertion is expression of feelings and thoughts directly in a way that is not coercive or manipulative.

Dr. Darshan Shah

Dr. Darshan Shah, a renowned psychiatrist and psychotherapist, is committed to make a difference in the area of mental health and help individuals cope with feelings and symptoms; change behavior patterns that may contribute to one’s illness and henceforth contribute to their newly improved pathway of life.