Saturday, November 3, 2012

Defense Mechanisms

The other day I was having a conversation with someone, and this person pointed out my tendency to deflect when a conversation gets to a serious topic, or a topic I just don't want to discuss/deal with, or when a topic is one that can/will cause me pain. I actually found this somewhat unexpected... first, because while I know I do tend to use defense mechanisms, that is one I never realized I do use; and second, that someone recognized this in me.

So, I decided to look up different defense mechanisms and think about which ones actually apply to me. These, and the definitions, all come from (all in bold are basically direct quotes from this site):

Repression/suppression: One way to deal with emotional pain is to not think about what has happened.
Basically, this just means the problem gets ignored/pushed to the back of someone's mind. I did this a lot with what I went through as a child. I barely recall the sexual molestation, and can only remember some of the physical abuse.

Displacement: Displacement is simply taking an emotion that belongs in one situation and displaying it in another.
I think everyone does this to some degree - someone pisses you off, but you can't yell at that person because of consequences, so you take your anger out on other people (i.e. family). I try NOT to do this, but it's an easy one for people to do.

Projection: Projection is the process of taking feelings we have about ourselves (usually painful feelings) and focusing them on other people.
While I don't think I do this, it is possible I have in the past. I just know it isn't a common defense mechanism of mine.

Denial: Denial is the refusal to believe or accept the reality that certain events have happened (are happening) or will happen. Co-Relation: Related to denial is the defense called minimizing.

Minimizing: Events are accepted, but only in a watered down version. Example: Sure I drink once in a while. Everybody does. It's no big deal. Once in a while I might get carried away, but it really isn't a problem.
I don't think I use either of these (denial or minimizing). If anything, I might tend to minimize what is going on. But again, not a common one.

Withdrawal: Withdrawal is usually used when a person is afraid of rejection or afraid to fail."
Hmmm, yeah, I've used this one a lot, and still do.

Co-Relation: Closely related to withdrawal are: Avoidance and Deflection
This is as the name suggests - one will avoid speaking about a problem or being around people  I might be guilty of this one, too.

Deflection: Deflection is a method of changing a subject that is or might be painful.
This is the one that has recently been brought to my attention, and it was said that it is humor I usually use as my method. For example, if someone brings up a sensitive subject, I will make a joke to lighten the mood, change the subject, or otherwise just move along.

Rationalization: Rationalization is to justify your behavior or to make excuses for your behavior.
Yeah, I have to confess to this one also. I'm always making excuses for being stupid.... just generally, the excuses are dumber than the stupid thing I did in the first place. 

Fantasy: When the world of everyday life becomes too painful or difficult too bear, some people turn to the inner world of fantasy.
This one is probably the one I use most often, although not as much any more. As a kid/teenager, I lived in a fantasy world whenever possible. I remember doing this while being molested as well as a way of blocking out what was happening. It's still a very easy thing to slip into.

Intellectualization: In order to avoid experiencing his real feelings a person may discuss his problem(s) in an analytical, rational, intellectual way.
This one I am also guilty of. Usually, whenever I talk about some of the things I've gone through, I do so very analytically. I don't allow emotion to play into the description at all, or explain my feelings. There are only a few people who've heard me describe these events without using this technique. I never realized it was a defense mechanism before.

Procrastination: Procrastination is another way to avoid painful feelings by convincing yourself that a problem can be dealt with later.
Yup... not a common mechanism of mine when it comes to dealing with painful feelings (rarely use this one), I am a procrastinator. For example... I really do need to make that phone call, but don't want to deal with it.

Reaction-formation: This defense is simply faking your feelings or expressing the opposite of what you really feel.
And, another yup. Been there, done that, and still do occasionally.


Ok so if I counted right, I use/have used 7 of these fairly often. The rest I either don't use, or rarely use. Hmm... not sure what that says about me :/

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