2. The term ‘Defence Mechanism’ was first used
by Sigmund Freud in his paper “The Neuro-
Psychoses of defense” (1894).
Meaning: - A defence mechanisms is the act
of coping mechanism that reduce anxiety
generated by treats from unacceptable or
negative impulses. The process is usually
3. Defence mechanisms are methods of
attempting to protect self and cope with basic
drives or emotionally painful thoughts,
feelings or events. The purpose of defense
mechanisms is to reduce or eliminate anxiety.
They can be helpful when used in very small
doses, and if over used, become ineffective
and can lead to a breakdown of the
personality. Most defense mechanisms
operate at the unconscious level of
4. Defence mechanisms Example
Identification An attempt to manage anxiety
by imitating the behavior of someone faired or
A student nurse imitates the nurturing
behavior she observes one of her instructors
using with clients.
Introjections A form of identification that
allows for the acceptance of others norms and
values into oneself, even when contrary to
one’s previous assumptions.
A seven year old tells his little sister, “Don’t
talk to strangers” he has introjected this value
from the instruction of parents and teachers.
Minimization Not acknowledging the
significance of one’s behavior.
A person says, “don’t believe everything my
wife tells you I wasn’t so drunk I couldn’t
5. Defence mechanisms Example
Displacement Unconsciously discharging
pent-up feelings to a less threatening object.
A husband comes home after a bad day at
work and yells at his wife.
Reaction formation Replacing unacceptable
feeling with their exact opposites.
A jealous boy who hates his elder brother
may show him exaggerated respect and
affection towards him.
Rationalization process in which an
individual justifies his failures and socially
unacceptable behavior by giving socially
A student who fails in the examination may
complaint that the hostel atmosphere is not
favorable and has resulted in his failure.
6. Defence mechanisms Example
Substitution The replacement of a highly
valued, unacceptable or unavailable object
by a less valuable, acceptable or available
A woman wants to marry a man exactly like
her dead father and settles for someone who
looks a little bit like him.
Repression Unconscious and involuntary
forgetting of painful ideas, events and
Forgetting: a loved one’s birthday after fight.
Denial Unconscious refusal to admit an
unacceptable idea or behavior. Usually the
first defense learned and used.
The mother of a child who is fatally ill may
refuse to admit that there is anything wrong
even though she is fully informed of the
diagnosis and expected out come. It is
because she cannot tolerate the pain that
acknowledging a reality would produce.
7. Defence mechanisms Example
Sublimation consciously or unconsciously
channeling instinctual drives into acceptable
Aggressiveness might be transformed into
competitiveness in business or supports.
Compensation consciously covering up for
a weakness by over emphasizing or making
up a desirable trait.
A student who fails in his study may
compensate by becoming the collage
champion in athletics.
Projection unconsciously blaming someone
for once difficulties.
A person who blames another for his own
mistakes. A surgeon, whose patient does not
respond as he anticipated, may tend to blame
the theater nurse who’s helped that surgeon
at the time of operation.
8. Defence mechanisms Example
Intellectualization separation of the
emotion of a painful event from the facts
involved acknowledging the facts but not
Person shows no emotional expression
when discussing a serious car accident.
Undoing consciously doing something to
counter act or make up for a transgression or
Giving a treat to a child who is being
punished for a wrong doing.
Regression unconscious return to an earlier
and more comfortable level.
An adult throws a temper tantrum when he
does not get his own way.
9. Defence mechanisms Example
Dissociation the unconscious separation of
painful feelings and emotions from an
unacceptable idea, situation, or object.
Amnesia that prevents recalls of previous
Conversions the unconscious expression of
interaphysic conflict symbolically throw
A student awakens with a migraine
headache the morning of a final
examination to take the rest.
10. In psychoanalytic theory, a defence
mechanism, is an unconscious psychological
mechanism that reduces anxiety arising from
unacceptable or potentially harmful stimuli.
It may result in healthy or unhealthy
consequences depending on the
circumstances with which the mechanism is