Wanna know about Defense Mechanisms?

Considering the architecture of our mind, we’re programmed to avoid pain and seek pleasure. Each one of us defines what are pain and pleasure differently; however, all of us find ways to appear dominant. So what happens when there is a situation when we cannot avoid nor control what could cause pain? What happens in a case where we believe that we will appear weak and susceptible to attack?

As you’ve probably experienced the scenario mentioned above, you know that it definitely creates some degree of stress. Therefore, as a solution, people build defense mechanisms to mitigate the intensity of the stress created by the fear of appearing anxious, stingy, with low confidence, unethical, etc.

Some of the most common defense mechanisms, but not limited, can be:

  • Projection; when someone wants to hide his/her unacceptable qualities, he/she attributes them to another person’s unacceptable qualities
    • Example: when someone is being unfaithful to his/her partner and accuses his/her partner of being unfaithful
  • Denial; when someone blocks external events from entering his/her awareness
    • Example: when someone denies that s/he has a substance abuse problem, even though it is evident that the amount of substance is above average
  • Intellectualization; when someone describes a very emotional event without the use of emotions and the description lasts too long, he/she does not process his/her emotions
    • Example: a person who has suffered sexual assault and describes the events without showing any emotions when describing what happened 

As you would’ve noticed, the common characteristic of all these defense mechanisms is that they are unconscious and self-destructive since they can distort the person’s thoughts, the way you see your reality, and how you feel about yourself, other people, and the world. Each defense mechanism needs a different approach to help you value your qualities rather than judge them. Help from a mental health professional is highly suggested.