16 Aug 2009

Ego Defense Mechanisms


What Are Ego Defense Mechanisms?
When you accidentally injure yourself, your body automatically begins several self healing processes, aiming to restore your body to its original healthy state. But what if you're emotionally hurt? What if you face a sudden shock or a tremendous amount of stress? What if your anxiety becomes more than you can handle? What if you lose a dear one?

Just like how your body has defenses against physical wounds and injuries, it has its defenses against emotional shocks and wounds; they're called Ego Defense Mechanisms or Unconscious Defense Mechanisms.

Ego Defense Mechanisms
The following is an explanation of each of the ego defense mechanisms:-

  • Denial: Denial is refusing to acknowledge the presence of the threat or the occurrence of the unpleasant event. Examples of denial would be refusing to acknowledge the death of a person, questioning the qualifications of the doctor who diagnosed the disease or going like: "Madness? This is Sparta!!" when threatened by a very large army. The problem with denial is that it blocks the road to acceptance; you won't be able to get over that event until you first accept it.
  • Displacement: Displacement is transferring or discharging your emotions on a less threatening object. For example, shouting at your children or having a fight with your neighbor right after your boss shouts at you means that you are angry at your boss but taking it out on your kids. If your displacement ego defense mechanism gets fired, try to control yourself a bit and then work on identifying your real enemy. Don't attack innocent people just because someone you can't harm has emotionally hurt you.
  • Repression: Repression is the complete memory loss of a painful event. In this case, your subconscious mind doesn't want you to remember what happened because it may negatively affect your mood.
  • Projection: Projection is placing blame for the unwanted event upon others. Examples would be saying that you failed an exam because the teacher is racist.
  • Rationalization: Rationalization is the act of rationalizing your wrong actions and creating a self serving explanation for what you did. Saying "I have the right to cheat on the exam because the lessons weren't well explained" is a basic example of rationalization.
  • Sublimation: Sublimation is satisfying your socially unacceptable needs in a socially accepted way. So, by becoming a boxer you are able to satisfy your hidden need for violence.
  • Regression: Regression is returning to a previous state of development. Crying instead of taking actions to solve your problems means you have returned to the stage of childhood.
  • Identification: By identifying with something or someone else you can increase your sense of ego and self-worth. Saying that a famous singer is a friend of yours might make you admired and so cause you to feel better about your other problems.
  • Undoing: This means trying to fix your mistake, like sending a SMS to apologize to a friend you've recently had a fight with.
  • Fantasy: It's pretty much self-explanatory. Imagining yourself beating up your boss with a chair after he's shouted at you is you fantasizing to help make you feel better.
  • Reaction Formation: This behavior has you taking actions that are the opposite of your real desires, like for example greeting one of your enemies warmly just to show that you don't hate him.
  • Humor: Looking at the funny side of a situation can help you forget about the real problem.
  • Compensation: Hiding your weaknesses by acting as a beacon of strength; saying something like "I'm never scared" after watching a horror movie.
  • Affiliation: Affiliation is to seek another's help in getting over your problem.
  • Suppression: In this case, you avoid thinking about that unwanted event.
  • Dissociation: Dissociating yourself from reality and thinking that this is not happening to you is one of the means of emotional defense.

So, Are Ego Defense Mechanisms Effective?
Sometimes they are healthy and sometimes not. Some of them can help you, while others can make the problem even worse; whenever possible, try to consciously detect the presence of the defense mechanism and see if it is really beneficial. If you find that it is not, then try to avoid it and maybe alter it to your benefit.

Other interesting infos on Ego go HERE and HERE.

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