TABLE 5: DEFENSE MECHANISMS
            NARCISSISTIC DEFENSES                                   IMMATURE DEFENSES                                      NEUROTIC DEFENSES                                          MATURE DEFENSES
Denial- Negates sensory data to avoid awareness       Acting Out- Acts an unconscious impulse or affect       Controlling- Manage or regulate environment             Altruism- Experiences vicarious pleasure by
of painful aspect of reality. Abolishes external      to avoid affect. Acting gives into the impulse rather   excessively to avoid anxiety.                           serving others constructively and instinctually.
reality. Used in normal and pathological states.      than prohibiting it. Avoids the tension of                                                                      Reaction formation is benign and constructive.
                                                      postponing expression.                                                                                          Serving others does not take the place of meeting
                                                                                                                                                                      own needs.
Distortion- Reshapes external reality to suit inner   Blocking- Inhibits thinking temporarily. May            Displacement- Shifts an emotion or drive from           Anticipation- Anticipates, plans for future inner
needs. Beliefs, hallucinations, delusions. Sustains   include affects and impulses. Resembles                 one idea or object to another. Permits symbolic         discomfort that is goal directed. Careful planning or
feelings of superiority, entitlement.                 repression, except tension felt.                        representation of less distress.                        worrying and premature but realistic affective
                                                                                                                                                                      anticipation of dire and potentially dreadful
Primitive Idealization- Endows either “all good,      Hypocondriasis- Transforms bereavement,                 Dissociation- Drastically modifies personal             Asceticism- Eliminates pleasurable effects of
omnipotent” or “all bad,” inflated external objects   loneliness, aggressive impulses into self-reproach,     identity or character to avoid emotional distress,      experiences. Uses morals to assign values to
with great power                                      pain, somatic illness. Avoids responsibility,           including fugue states, hysterical conversion, DID,     specific pleasures. Derives gratification from
                                                      circumvents guilt. Affliction due to ego-alien nature   drug highs, religious joy.                              renunciation of all consciously-perceived base
                                                      of introjects.                                                                                                  pleasures.
Projection- Perceives and reacts to inner qualities   Identification- Crucial to ego development. But         Externalization- Perceives in external and              Humor- Permits overt expression of feelings and
as though outside the self. May include frank         person may identify with love object to defend          objects, elements of one’s own personality,             thoughts without personal discomfort or
delusions, persecutions, and acting on the            against anxiety or pain, real or threatened. Person     including impulses, conflicts, moods, attitudes, and    immobilization and does not produce unpleasant
perceptions.                                          adopts quality or symptom of one about whom             styles of thinking.                                     effects on others. Person may focus and tolerate
                                                      feels guilty. Identifies with aggressor.                                                                        what is too terrible to be borne. Wit, however, does
                                                                                                                                                                      not allow feeling of the affect at all.
Projective Identification- Deposits unwanted          Introjection- Although, vital to development, when      Repression- Expels or withholds idea from               Sublimation- Achieves impulse gratification and
aspects into another person so projector feels at     used as a defense, can obliterate distinction           consciousness. Primary curbs ideas before               retention of goals via altering object to one that is
one with object. Recipient modifies projections and   between subject and object. Avoids painful              reaching consciousness; secondary excludes what         socially acceptable. Channels instincts rather than
projector recovers them. Allows one to distance       awareness of separateness of threat of loss.            was once conscious. Not really forgotten. Symbolic      blocking them. Acknowledges, modifies, directs
and make self understood by exerting pressure on      Avoids the anxiety of feared object as in               behavior may be present. May lose cherished             feelings toward an object or goal, yet allows
another to experience similar feelings.               identification with aggressor.                          goals.                                                  modest gratification of instincts.
Splitting- Divides external objects into “all good”   Passive Aggressive Behavior- Expresses                  Inhibition- Inhibits or renounces ego functions          Suppression- Decision or action to postpone
and “all bad.” Abruptly shifts from one extreme to    aggression indirectly through failures,                 consciously to evade anxiety arising out of             attention to a conscious impulse or conflict Does
other. Sudden and complete reversals of feeling.      procrastination, illness that affect others more than   conflicts with impulses, superego, environmental        not avoid issues, but cuts them off. Acknowledges
Self-concept may oscillate.                           self.                                                   forces or figures.                                      discomfort, but minimizes it.
                                                      Projection- Attributes own feelings to another due      Intellectualization- Avoids affective expression,
                                                      to intolerable feelings or painful affects. In          experience, relationship. Attends to external reality
                                                      psychosis, become frank delusions and                   to avoid feelings, and details to avoid whole.
                                                      Regression- Attempts to return to earlier               Isolation- Splits or separates idea from affect.
                                                      functioning to avoid tension at current level.          Represses affect. May remove one from object
                                                      Necessary for creativity.                               relationships.
                                                      Schizoid Fantasy- Retreats autistically to avoid        Rationalization- Offers rational explanations to
                                                      intimacy, obtain gratification. Eccentricity repels.    justify attitudes, beliefs, behaviors instinctually
NOTE: Those identified by Anna Freud are              Somatization- Converts psychic derivatives into         Reaction Formation- (Reversal) Transforms an
grayed. She also identified Reversal and Turning      body symptoms. Desomatization, infantile somatic        unacceptable impulse into its opposite. If
Against the Self (Fairbairn’s Moral Defense in        responses replaced by thought, affect                   frequently used early, can become obsessional
Children.) Adapted by Martha Blake 5/02. From                                                                 character trait.
Vaillant, Adaptation to Life, 1977.                                                                           Sexualization- Endows sexual significance to an
                                                                                                              object or function.

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