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Defense Mechanism: How Does Your Body React To Things That Do Not Happen As You Wish

Defense Mechanism: How Does Your Body React To Things That Do Not Happen As You Wish

According to Sigmund Freud in the psychoanalytic theory, a defense mechanism is a tactic developed by the ego against anxiety.[1] Security mechanisms are thought to guard the mind against feelings and thoughts that are too difficult for the conscious mind to cope with.

Also, Wikipedia defines a defense mechanism as an unconscious emotional mechanism that reduces stress as a result of unacceptable or potentially damaging stimuli.[2] Sigmund Freud was one of the first proponents of this construct. However, defense mechanisms may bring about healthy or unhealthy consequences with regards to the circumstances and frequency in which the device is used.

While all these mechanisms can be harmful, they can also be very useful and allows us to function normally. The greatest problems occur when defense mechanisms are overused to avoid dealing with problems.

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You might have perhaps heard people speak about immunity processors with which we protect ourselves from things that people no longer want to think about or deal with. The term got its start in psychoanalytic therapy, but it has slowly proved helpful in day-to-day language. Think of the last time you referenced to someone as being “in denial” or alleged someone of “rationalizing”. Both of these illustrations label a type of defense mechanism.

I want to analyze below each type of defense mechanism as well as other immunity processes defined by psychologists.

Displacement: express the anger towards other people that are less threatening

Displacement defense mechanism involves getting feelings, frustrations, and impulses on people or objects that are less threatening. Displaced aggression is a common sort of this defense mechanism. Rather than express our angriness in manners that could lead to negative effects (like arguing with the boss), we instead express our anger towards a person or object that position’s no threat (such as our spouse, children, or pets).

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For example, this frequently occurs with family members, where we often see the father getting angry at the mother. The mother then takes her anger to her kid, the son in change yells at his little sister, the little sis kicks the dog, and your dog bites the kitten.

Sublimation: transform unhelpful emotions into healthy actions

This is a mechanism that makes us act away unacceptable impulses by changing our characters to generally accepted ones. For example, a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kickboxing as a means of venting disappointment. It is also assumed that in no doubt sublimation is seen as a sign of maturity that enables individuals to function normally in the society.

Repression: keep the unwanted information out of one’s awareness

This is another well-known defense mechanism. It acts to keep information out of our conscious awareness. It even consists all the others, and it is possibly the oddest of them all. Though, these memories don’t just disappear; they continue to influence our behavior. Often, we do this intentionally by forcing the unwanted information out of our awareness, which is known as suppression.

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Rationalization: make excuses to rationalize irrational behavior

This is another mechanism which describes the unpleasant characters or feeling in a logical manner. This mechanism does not only inhibit anxiety, but it may also protect self-esteem and self-concept. It is something that each human being does, probably on a regular basis. An example is a person who is turned down for a date and might rationalize the situation by saying they were not attracted to this person anyway. Another example of this may be a mate stealing money from a wealthy friend of his, telling himself “Well this individual is rich, he can afford to lose it.”

Projection: attribute one’s own thoughts and emotions to another

Discharge is defined as “Attributing one’s thoughts, emotions, or motives to another”. Projection is well known as the mechanism that takes unacceptable characteristics and changes them to others. This kind of feature is common, and we have probably all experienced it. An angry man might accuse others of being hostile. For example, if you have an intense hatred for someone, you might instead believe he or she does not like you.

Intellectualization: focus only on the intellectual aspect and remain isolated from the reality

Intellectualization works to minimize anxiety by thinking about events in a cold, clinical way. This defense mechanism enables us to avoid considering the stressful, mental aspect of the situation and instead focus only on the intellectual aspect. For example, a person who has just been clinically diagnosed with a terminal disease might give attention to learning everything about the disease to avoid distress and remain isolated from the reality of the specific situation.

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Reaction Formation: behave completely contrary to how one feels

Result creation reduces anxiety by taking up the opposite sense, impulse or behavior. It is also one of the defense mechanisms, as it entails behaving completely contrary to how one feels. It is defined as acting in a way that is exactly the opposite of your true feelings. An example of this could be treating an individual you hate in an excessively friendly manner to hide your true feelings.

These analyses show how we react to different emotions or characters. Though there are some things, we see wrong but seem good. While defense mechanism is usually thought of as negative reactions, many of these defense mechanisms can be helpful. For example, utilizing joy to overcome an annoying, anxiety-provoking situation can be an adaptive protection mechanism. In other circumstances, they allow people to temporarily ease stress during critical times, letting them give attention to what is necessary at the moment.

Reference

More by this author

Helen Goad

Helen is a financial writer, business consultant, and freelance coach.

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Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

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    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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