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What are defense mechanisms and why do I use them?


We face many stressful situations every day. How we handle this situation is entirely up to us. Some people respond by biting their nails, while others scream and channel their negative emotions at others. Such behaviors are known as defense mechanisms.

In this blog, we discuss defense mechanisms, why we use them, and the different types.

What are defense mechanisms?

As mentioned earlier, defense mechanisms are the behaviors we use to keep ourselves away from stressful situations, negative thoughts, and unpleasant behaviors. Simply put, when someone tries to do us physical harm, we try to protect ourselves. protect the

The famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud first introduced the topic of defense mechanisms as a theory. In this theory, Freud holds that individuals unknowingly act in certain ways to protect themselves from stressful situations. This is an important part of our psychological development. We tend to do it unconsciously. Different people have different methods of defense mechanisms and different ways of positively or negatively impacting them.

why use them?

Most defense mechanisms occur without our knowledge. We try to protect ourselves from mild to extreme unpleasant situations, emotions, thoughts and impulses. Those with a sense of humor should be careful, depression, and other mental states often use defense mechanisms in everyday life. Some of the reasons people use defense mechanisms are:

  • an excuse to defend a particular action
  • Don’t deal with hurtful negative emotions
  • when threatened
  • take time off to adapt to changes

When to Seek Medical Assistance?

Seek medical attention if you regularly rely on various defense mechanisms to help you get out of uncomfortable situations or thoughts and interfere with your daily activities.

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What are the 10 common defense mechanisms?

There are several defense mechanisms. However, below are the 10 most commonly used defense mechanisms.

  1. rejection: One of the most common defense mechanisms. It is when individuals refuse to accept reality and facts. They avoid dealing with difficult situations that can affect them emotionally. For example, if you recently received the life-changing news of the death of a close friend, you might refuse to believe it.
  2. projection: When you have to deal with an unfair situation that causes anxiety, you may project your feelings onto others instead of accepting your own shortcomings. For example, if a person is in a group and is afraid to cross the road, they may not accept being afraid.
  3. displacement: Projecting your difficult feelings, thoughts, and feelings onto other people and things. An example would be if you had a bad day at work and when you got home you were mad at your spouse or children. Instead, I projected it onto my family.
  4. suppression: If unpleasant thoughts, unpleasant memories, or unusual beliefs can upset you, instead of facing them, unintentionally hide these feelings, hoping to forget them. However, such memories do not disappear. Those who were abused as children may want to suppress their memories.
  5. regression: If you are feeling anxious or threatened, you may be unknowingly falling into an early stage of development. This is usually common among children. But adults also retreat. Children may wet the bed again or suck their thumbs after being separated from family members. However, when adults experience traumatic experiences, they may lean toward childhood toys and activities. They may also avoid everyday activities because some emotions can overwhelm them.
  6. Sublimation: This is one of the defense mechanisms that health care providers believe to be a mature and positive way to deal with stressful situations. Here people choose to pass their negative energy onto another object or activity that is safe and appropriate. If you’ve had a stressful day at work, instead of yelling and yelling at your co-workers or family members, channel your emotions into contact sports like football, kickboxing, music and art.
  7. Rationalization: Remember when a raise or promotion didn’t go your way? You kept telling yourself you didn’t need it. This sense of trying to explain negative thoughts with facts is rationalization.
  8. reaction formation: Recognizes your feelings and knows how to act when you experience an undesirable situation. But you choose to act in ways that are contrary to your feelings. When you feel frustrated, choose to react positively. reaction formation.
  9. Compartmentalization: As the name suggests, it puts different aspects of life into different boxes and compartments. You will be able to handle each part of your life independently and individually, reducing anxiety and stress. Many people don’t talk about their personal lives at work and vice versa.
  10. intellectualization: In difficult situations, we choose to look at the quantitative facts instead of reacting emotionally. By doing so, you can reduce anxiety and stress. When you get fired, think about your next steps. Never angry or frustrated. Instead, start looking for job opportunities that meet your needs or learn new skills to pursue your dream job.


As you’ve read before, defense mechanisms are our natural way of dealing with stressful situations and negative thoughts and behaviors. It is often used unconsciously. However, when anxiety and stress levels increase and interfere with normal daily activities. Medical help should be sought to develop a positive mindset. What are defense mechanisms and why do I use them?

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