Defence mechanisms unblocked during Regression



The concept of a defence mechanism was introduced by the creator of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and adopted by modern psychology. Means methods of dealing with internal conflicts to protect personality (ego) reduce anxiety, frustration and guilt. They are usually habitual and unconscious. To some extent, they occur in virtually every human being and play an adaptive role, they are necessary. Defence mechanisms, however, are always a distortion of behaviour or view of reality, applied excessively or inadequately to the situation may hinder functioning. It is good when the individual’s behaviour has a large repertoire, and their selection and intensity depends on the situation (flexibility of use). You can then talk about the effectiveness and lack of pathology associated with defence mechanisms.


I TECHNIQUES OF AVOIDING ACTION: repression, excessive self-control, suppression, delaying (postponing), an abbreviation for obsessive-compulsive disorder

  1. RepressionThis is the removal of thoughts, feelings, memories, impulses, fantasies, desires, etc. that evoke painful associations or otherwise threaten the coherence of the individual’s personality (for example, they provoke questions about morality, cause guilt, etc.). Repression occurs when satisfying the urge (associated with pleasure) can cause – because of other requirements – unpleasantness. Repressed thoughts still exist, but consciousness is not available. Evaporation is not a one-time process and requires constant energy input. According to Freud, it is divided into two types
    1. Primary repression occurs when certain experiences or emotions are not allowed into consciousness on a regular basis. Such phenomena never reach her. Primary repression occurs once, at a very early stage of childhood, when consciousness emerges from the unconscious. 
    2. Secondary, consequential or appropriate repression occurs when phenomena that have arisen in consciousness but have been secondary to the unconscious. Repressed phenomena remain unconscious thanks to a mechanism called censorship, controlled by the superego, but sometimes they appear unexpectedly when censorship weakens (e.g. under the influence of alcohol, ego weakness, illness, sleep, etc.), they can also cause neurosis.
  2. Excessive self-controlthe ability to control your emotions and behaviour. Interesting phenomena are associated with self-control. Attempts to control your thoughts and feelings usually result in a growing feeling of internal pressure to perform controlled behaviour and an increase in suppressed thoughts. This is primarily the case in the initial stages of implementing control. This phenomenon is called the “paradoxical control effect”. People who, e.g., try to suppress thoughts about certain activities (e.g. “I will not eat”, “I will not smoke”) run the risk that these thoughts will appear more.
  3. Suppression (damping)pojęcie derived from the language of psychoanalysis. One of the defence mechanisms. It means a conscious diversion of attention from some – currently conscious – psychic content, as a result of which this thought becomes pre-conscious. The direct motivation of suppression is moral resistance, the source of which is the second censorship, the existence of which between consciousness and the pre-consciousness was postulated by Sigmund Freud.
  4. Procrastination (postponement)In psychology, procrastination or procrastination means a pathological tendency to constantly postpone certain activities to later, manifesting itself in various areas of life. The procrastinator, or “continuous delayer”, have problems getting to work, especially when he does not see immediate results. The term comes from the Latin word “procrastinatio” – deferment, delay, postponing for tomorrow or “procrastino” – to postpone, delay, postpone for tomorrow, which has nothing to do with this trend. 
  5. OCD – an abbreviation for the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – a set of behaviours in which obsessive and obsessive thoughts, forced (compulsive) movements and behaviours appear, almost always very unpleasant for the person experiencing them. The disorder impedes or prevents normal functioning. Obsessive thoughts are ideas, images or impulses for action that appear in the mind in a stereotypical way. Forced acts – rituals are stereotypical and repeated behaviour. They are to prevent unlikely events that, in the opinion of the affected person, could occur if the ritual was abandoned. Often these alleged events are related to harming yourself or someone. This disorder is almost always associated with anxiety, which increases with attempts to give up forced activity, and often with depression and depersonalization.

II SHIPMENT TECHNIQUES: acting-out, fixation, compensation, conversion, transfer, regression, sublimation, substitution, asceticism, faked reactions, denied one’s own action from the past, denying the existence of something, habitual, established behavioural patterns (e.g. submission, aggression (psychology ), avoidance, bragging, striving for independence, suspicion), fainting, making yourself weak, sick or tired.

  1. Acting-outIn psychology, it is a type of behaviour in which directly unconscious impulses are expressed through action. Thanks to this, you can avoid becoming aware of the emotions that usually accompany these impulses. Acting-out is one of the defence mechanisms, often leading to antisocial activities. E.g., a person addicted to gambling playing compulsively playing poker, a person addicted to sex compulsively masturbating, dressing beats with baseball bats the first person he met. The aggressor’s psychological profit: discharge, a sense of omnipotence, an increase in self-confidence, and discharge of emotional problems. Not planning this aggression and quickly finding an outlet for it avoids uncertainty, fear and other feelings usually associated with anti-social actions. Sometimes acting-out behaviours (loss of control over certain behaviours) are interwoven with acting-in behaviours (attempts to control dangerous and impulsive behaviours). For example, someone starts behaving excessively politely, stops masturbating or completely avoids any sexual situations. In return, a person who is in the acting-in phase may, for example, pray excessively often or undergo intense religious rituals.
  2. FixationIt consists of clinging to learned adaptation mechanisms (thoughts and behaviours), thanks to which thoughts that could cause frustration are not allowed. This gives a short-term psychological gain in the form of reducing tension (which is the basic task of defence mechanisms), if the threat passes, but makes it impossible to adapt to it. There are also so-called developmental fixations. They consist of blocking emotional development at a certain phase and not moving to the next development phase. In this sense, e.g. in psychoanalysis, the terms “oral fixation”, “anal fixation” etc. are used as a term for the developmental libido energy fixation – “libidal fixation” (see psychosexual development for more). Developmental fixations are associated with frustration and deprivation of the needs characteristic of a given developmental age. If there is too much or too little basic frustration for a given age in a given period, this leads to fixation. As a result of such fixation, e.g. an adult may have internal states, dilemmas, ways of thinking, etc. characteristic for younger developmental age. For example, an adult man lives with his parents and does not experience the desire to start his own family, to tie himself to another close person, he feels bad in situations of actual independence, etc.
  3. CompensationThis is rewarding yourself for deficiencies or defects. It gives temporary pleasure, but repeated may cause consolidation of the subconscious association of a given defect with the reward and make it difficult to remove it.
  4. Conversion – or dissociationRefers to disorders that were once known as hysterical. It is the generation by the unconscious of various (apparent or real) physical ailments in order to justify the individual’s inaction or diverting his attention from unwanted thoughts and feelings. It involves a temporary drastic modification of personality traits or a sense of identity in order to avoid unpleasant feelings and thoughts. Conversion is a mechanism very characteristic of hysterical personality, but it also occurs sporadically in people who do not have the characteristics of the hysteric.
  5. Transferencea mechanism used for psychological therapy, derived from psychoanalysis, and based on the displacement defence mechanism. The phenomenon of transference arises on the basis of a psychological relationship – in the case of therapy, the relationship is formed by the patient and the therapist (although, of course, this phenomenon also occurs outside the therapy, in all interpersonal relationships). Among the unconscious content, a special role is played by the transfer to one of the parents of the opposite sex, therefore – in the case of the son – to the mother, and in the case of the daughter to the father. Transfer in therapy consists in the fact that the patient projects his unconscious thoughts, feelings, and imaginations onto the therapist, causing the emergence of so-called “transference fantasy” – the content of this fantasy may be that the patient, for example, sees his father in the therapist and treats him in the same way, transferring his feelings towards his father. Thus, during the therapy, a relationship is created that corresponds to the primary infantile compound – this phenomenon Freud described as transference neurosis. Thanks to this, the patient can again and – thanks to the therapist’s help – consciously relive the content hitherto repressed and thus resting in a state of unconsciousness. These contents – because unconscious – could become the cause and germ of neurosis. The therapist observes how the patient perceives him – this becomes the basis for the diagnosis of the patient’s personality and interpretation. Thanks to this, the patient’s psychological conflicts have a chance to see the light of day, they can be understood (realized) and resolved (liquidated) by the patient. Transfer, however, is not a prerequisite for successful therapy; it can herald improvement, it can herald deterioration, and it can finally mean nothing. The transfer may not appear at all – we are talking about the so-called “negative transfer”.
  6. Regressionin psychology, a return to behaviour characteristic of an earlier developmental period. This return can also manifest itself on an emotional level (feeling yourself as a child, remembering feelings similar to those felt as a child, etc.). Regression occurs mainly under the influence of stress, it can also take place on the instruction of a hypnotist during hypnosis (so-called hypnotic regression) or self-hypnosis (e.g. working with a timeline in NLP). Regression under stress is one of the psychological defence mechanisms. During regression, people sometimes remember facts that have long been forgotten. It happens, however, that the facts heard (e.g. the content of books), or completely made up, are revealed to him as authentic.
  7. SublimationThis is one of the defensive mechanisms of a personality, consisting in shifting the drive (needs, motives) from a goal that cannot be achieved due to non-compliance with accepted principles, to another, substitute object or activity. For example, I’m afraid to pick up girls, so I drink beer until the party ends.
  8. SubstitutionThis is replacing unreachable goals with easier goals, changing the object to which the drive is directed. There are two main forms of substitution: sublimation and compensation, e.g. a person afraid of relationships engage in small flirting.
  9. Asceticismone of the defence mechanisms known in psychology. It is a mechanism born on the basis of resistance to one’s own sexuality. It externalizes during adolescence, but it starts in early childhood under the influence of a lack of love and acceptance from parents. It manifests itself in avoiding company, lack of body acceptance, bulimia, anorexia, refusing to defecate.
  10. A fake responseis one of the neurotic defence mechanisms of dealing with unacceptable impulses by expressing opposing impulses.
  11. Aggressionin psychology it is a description of behaviour directed outside or inside, aimed at causing physical or mental harm. In its extreme form, aggression is the greatest tragedy of humanity. In social psychology, aggression is defined as “Behavior whose conscious purpose is to cause harm or injury to someone”. In this theoretical current, aggression is assumed to be learned and acquired behaviour. According to this theory, man learns aggression just like any other behaviour – e.g. riding a bicycle or cooperating with others. Three basic mechanisms of acquiring aggressive behaviours are described: classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning, imitation. There are among others: aggression of the enemy – aggression that aims to hurt or inflict pain; instrumental aggression – aggression serving a purpose other than injury or pain, e.g. intimidation, removal of competition, etc .; pro-social aggression – protecting social interests, defence; induced aggression – resulting from psycho-manipulation; deferred aggression; auto-aggression (behaviour) – self-directed aggression.

III TECHNIQUES FOR DISTORTING REALITY: devaluation, dissociation, fantasizing, unjustified generalization, idealization, intellectualisation, masking, distraction, projection, rationalization, splitting, selective lack of attention, symbolization, denying.

  1. FantasyIn psychology fantasizing is called a defence mechanism can be understood as: impulse to act, the satisfaction of desires in the imagination, image thinking, a form of autistic thinking, one of the components of dreams. Most often, fantasizing is described as diverting attention from a specific task and drawing it to its own reactions triggered by external stimuli. Fantasizing is divided into defensive – non-productive and adaptive – productive. As a defence mechanism, it performs the following functions: it is a way of dealing with frustration by providing substitute gratification, thanks to which we run away or become accustomed to the object generating fear, e.g. the passion of children to repeatedly listen to the same frightening fairy tales, it is a way of resolving conflicts, tan defending against unacceptable behaviour.
  2. Generalizationstimulus generalization in psychology – responding (without learning) to a similar stimulus by the same reaction; reaction strength is determined by the similarity of stimuli (generalization gradient); in addition to sensual similarity (e.g. shape), the reason may be semantic similarity – so-called semantic generalization, this applies to e.g. words with similar meaning; generalization in social psychology – excessive generalization, attributing to all members of the group stereotyped features encountered only in a few representatives of a given community;
  3. IntellectualisationIt consists of escaping from real unpleasant events to abstract space, thanks to which they become unreal (so-called psychiatry – an authentic event). The psychologist is happy to call all his mental disorders by name and dwell on them. However, he does nothing to fight them; The so-called. a pub philosopher who deliberately dwells on world problems, so he doesn’t have to think about his own alcoholic beverages. Dehumanization is a specific and dangerous form of intellectualisation. Symbolization is another type.
  4. Cloakingmisleading the participants of the experiment or concealing from them the real purpose of research or events that actually occur.
  5. Projectionattributing to others own views, behaviours or features, most often negative ones, often not perceived at home. The reason is the greater availability of these views, behaviours and features in the person who possesses them, and thus easier pulling into a given category. Example. Mother yells at the child. He thinks the child is extremely aggressive. In fact, she is aggressive herself. As usual in the case of defence mechanisms, we have two aspects here: avoidance of frustration (the mother does not have to feel guilty for unjustly scolding the child) and distortion of reality (the child suffers and does not understand why she is disciplined, this causes him guilt). Studies have shown that people do not design their characteristics either on persons too similar to them (this could make it difficult to prove that they do not have these characteristics themselves) or on persons too different (then the projection thesis would seem unbelievable). Projection often justifies aggressive behaviour by building faith in the world’s aggressive attitude and the need for self-defence. It then becomes a typical symptom of paranoia. Projection according to Holmes is divided into
    1. Projection of similaritya projection of own unconscious feature. It is equivalent to Freudian classical projection. It is based on the fact that people who have certain negative qualities are not aware of it, attribute these qualities to others to a greater extent than those who are aware of these qualities. 
    2. Attributive a projection of own, conscious feature. It consists in the fact that other people are assigned their own negative awareness. This projection is greater when a person who is attributed to similar characteristics is liked and valued. 
    3. Panglasian-Kassandra projectionattributing to others a feature that you do not possess in the absence of awareness of your own trait leading to the projection. The Kassandra projection is that the subject has unconscious positive feelings, but perceives the world as negative. This projection is a reversal of the Pan-Yang projection. 
    4. Complementarya projection of a feature which you do not have while being aware of your own feature leading to the projection. For example, A frightened person perceives others as threatening or a submissive person perceives others as dominant. Psychoanalysis distinguishes between two types of projection
      1. Psychotic – it consists in perceiving unacceptable internal impulses and their derivatives and behaving as if they were external to the self. 
      2. Nonpsychotic — involves assigning your own, unacceptable behaviours and impulses to others. A related concept is projection identification.
  6. Rationalizationseemingly rational justification after the fact of your decisions and attitudes, when real motives remain hidden, often also from your own consciousness. For example, a mother yells at the child. He thinks the reason is the child’s rude behaviour. In fact, her child’s identical behaviour has never bothered her, and the real reason is her fear of being fired. Thanks to this, the mother feels better (avoiding frustration – she does not have to feel guilty for unloading herself on the child), but the child suffers unjustly (distortion of reality in the mother). Two typical types of rationalization were called “sour grapes” and “sweet lemons”: 
    1. Sour grapesit is an invalid recognition of a goal that we have not achieved. 
    2. Sweet lemonsis to convince ourselves that the unpleasant events and situations that we share are actually pleasant. This form of rationalization is also known as positive thinking. For example, you wanted to buy an SUV and your wife a van. You bought an SUV, so you prove yourself that the SUV is better.
  7. Fissiona defence mechanism involving the splitting of external objects into quite good and quite bad. A person in contact with the person using the fission may suddenly be classified into one of the categories and depreciated or idealized. Self-image, world-image, morality, etc. oscillate similarly.
  8. Denialthis is one of the narcissistic defence mechanisms known in psychology and psychoanalysis, akin to repression. Denying is falsifying the image of the present by not accepting real facts in order to remove negative thoughts and feelings that could be associated with it. Perception of reality avoids realizing its unpleasant aspects. For example, an alcoholic who claims he is not addicted because he can stop at any time; A mother who does not believe in her son’s death and is still waiting for his return home.


IV TECHNIQUES FOR ADOPTING PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOR: identification, incorporation, introjection, conformism, internalization

  1. IdentificationAs a defence mechanism, it is a process by which an individual differently resembles someone else, identifies with another person, adopts his thoughts, goals and behaviours. Very early on in human psychological development is the type of identification – identification with the aggressor – treated as a psychotic defence mechanism. When there is a significant difference between the level of aspiration and the level of achievement, and a person loses the views of achieving important life goals, then he can find partial satisfaction in an indirect way, as a result of identification. For example, fate has spoiled someone’s longed-for professional position, and that is why he especially desires his children to gain it. He identifies with them in the area of ​​their professional career, hence he perceives failure as his own failures, while successes – and here identification comes to the fore as a defence mechanism – he treats as his own.
  2. Incorporationit is a defence mechanism that occurs most often at a very young age. In adults, it indicates deep regression. This mechanism is based on the fact that a person symbolically absorbs, assimilates and assimilates features, reactions, attitudes and other various aspects of another person’s life. This mechanism occurs in the sphere of fantasy and this is what distinguishes this mechanism from internalization and introjection, e.g. a child imagines that he literally devours his mother.
  3. Introjectionis a defence mechanism that appears to protect the ego from becoming aware of unacceptable, hostile impulses. It consists of the symbolic absorption of various external objects. These objects can be both people and their characteristics. Most often we have strong feelings towards these objects (e.g. love or hatred), which can be both conscious and unconscious. The introjection process is unconscious. In addition to defensive, introjection also has character-forming significance. However, it is very difficult to distinguish between these two meanings. The essence of these functions is anxiety motivation, e.g. children who were beaten by their parents will never say that their educators did it to ensure their psychological comfort and not to get depressed.
  4. Conformismin social psychology it is a change in behaviour due to the real or imagined influence of other people. Compliance with the values, views, rules and norms of conduct in force in a given social group. The opposite of conformist behaviour is usually given to nonconformity. Different levels of depth of conformism are: 
    1. Distinguished Submission When there is a clear conflict between the individual’s belief and group pressure, as a result of which the individual submits to the group, he gives in. Submission occurs only when the pressure group is physically present. When a group disappears, the individual returns to his previous beliefs or behaviours. The motive for this behaviour is usually fear of rejection by the group or fear of punishment. I don’t steal because they’ll catch me or recognize me as a thief. 
    2. Identification When an individual wants to be similar to some group or person (the individual identifies with that group), then his or her behaviour matches the ideas about that individual. For example, I care about being assessed as an intelligent person – I behave as I imagine that an intelligent person behaves. Identification is a deeper form of conformism because matching a group occurs even when the group is physically absent. I don’t steal because intelligent people don’t steal. When a group changes their minds, I change them too. 
    3. Introjection (or internalization) The deepest form of conformism consists of recognizing certain norms and values ​​as one’s own. The task of socialization. I don’t steal because it’s bad. If the group disappears or changes its views, I still behave according to the internalized norm.
  5. Internalizationit’s a defence mechanism, which consists of taking the externally imposed their own attitudes, ideas, norms and values. At the beginning, the main role in this process is played by the child’s parents (especially when they are in preschool age and in the first years of attending school), then educators and peer groups, and after the person reaches adulthood social groups and individuals with whom they identify and which are their authority. As a result of internalization, heteronomous norms (not established by those to be applied) are transformed into autonomous norms (compliance with them no longer requires external control). Internalization is, therefore, one of the most important mechanisms of socialization and human social development.

V COMPLEX MECHANISMS: combining several of the above mechanisms, i.e. negativity, penance, fixing evil, distraction, self-abrogation, loss of interest, revenge, superstition

  1. Negativismis a tendency to behave contrary to the expectations of the environment, appearing already in preschool, when the child “checks his strength” and often uses the word “no”, but especially clearly in adolescence, when it is an expression of dissatisfaction with the control of parents and teachers. Negativism is divided into active and passive.
  2. SuperstitionsConviction of a causal relationship between events. It may result from stereotypes rooted in tradition and culture, lacking rational foundations and impossible to verify or learn incorrect relationships (e.g. magical dependence). Superstitions usually concern the consequences of events. They can be positive, for example: seeing a spider in the morning before superstition brings luck, as does a chimney sweep meeting. They can also be negative: bad luck, according to superstition, running a black cat or crossing a ladder. Similarly, breaking a mirror is seven years of unhappiness. Another example is holding your thumbs to bring luck or support.

VI MORAL DEFENSE MECHANISMS, i.e. those that allow you to still consider yourself a good person despite violating your own moral principles. You can distinguish moral defences, such as 

  1. Racjonalizacje “bad” acts as a means to a higher good,
  2. Euphemisms – the naming of “bad” deeds less negative names
  3. Comparisons – comparing their “evil” deeds of even worse acts of others
  4. Blur the responsibility – sharing guilt with others.
  5. Shifting responsibility – justifying “bad” deeds as admitted by some higher authority.
  6. Suppressing the consequences – ignoring the negative consequences of their deeds.
  7. Dehumanizing the victims of their deeds – that is, depriving someone of human traits, feelings, etc.
  8. External attribution of guilt – blaming victims, e.g. that they provoked and attributed something to someone or something. The concept of attribution refers to how people explain the reasons for their or someone else’s behaviour, the so-called naive theories of causality.


Peter Po