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Freud’s Defense Mechanisms

When the ego fears losing control of the inner war between the id and the super ego, anxiety occurs.  The ego protects itself against anxiety with defense mechanisms.  This reduces and redirects anxiety in various ways by distorting reality. 

Repression banishes anxiety arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness.  Repressed urges seep out in our dreams or slips of the tongue.  I’ve personally done this, wanting to protect myself and my feelings the best I could.  I would avoid thinking about certain things and train my thought process to quickly change topics if I began over thinking in a way I knew would cause me pain.  This does work, until the forbidden thoughts come back to haunt me in my dreams, and this there is no escaping.

Regression retreats to more infantile psychosexual stages to seek comfort.  I’ve experienced this when being homesick, and long for the security and warmness of my home.

Rationalization offers self-justifying explanations in place of the real, more threatening reasons for one’s actions.  Its easier for people to complete and go through with what they’re doing if they can think of a rational reason for what they’re doing.  If they can get around the fact that it is not a justified reason, even though the logic to come up with this is all made up in their head, they’ll feel better about doing it.  It protects them from the wrath of the superego and lets them satisfy the id.

Displacement shifts sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or person, as when redirecting anger toward a safer outlet. Say your mom texts  you and says you can’t go out tonight, you’re more likely to throw your phone in anger than throw your mom in anger.  

Note: These defense mechanisms all work subconsciously and would never work if we recognized them.