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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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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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