Involuntary coping Mechanisms:
  • Id’s unconscious demands are instinctual, infantile and amoral . They must be blocked by ego and superego.
  • Super ego,the conscience,prohibitions learned from parents & authorities.
  • Because of this conflict and persistence of unsatisfied demands, anxiety and guilt are aroused.
  • Defence mechanisms resides in the unconscious domain of ego.
George Vaillant’s Classification:
  • Narcissistic Defences: Most primitive. In children and adults who are psychotically disturbed.
  • Immature Defences: adolescents and some non neurotic patients.
  • Neurotic Defences: in OCD and hysterical patients and in adults under stress.
  • Mature defences
  1. Avoiding the awareness of some painful aspect of reality by negating sensory data.
  2. It abolishes external reality.
  3. A person who is a functioning alcoholic will often simply deny they have a drinking problem, pointing to how well they function in their job and relationships.
  4. Simple Denial,minimisation,Projection
  1. Grossly reshaping external reality to suit inner needs
  2. Including hallucinations, wish fulfilling delusions, unrealistic megalomania.
  1. Mechanism by which the ego attributes its own intolerable sexual and aggressive impulses to the outside person or agency.
  2. Coping with one’s unwanted motives by shifting them on to someone else.
  3. Anxiety arising from internal conflicts can then be reduced and problem dealt with as though it were in the external world.
  • ACTING OUT:Expressing an unconscious wish or impulse through action to avoid being conscious of an accompanying affect.
  • BLOCKING:Temporarily or transiently inhibiting thinking
  • HYPOCHONDRIASIS: Exaggerating or overemphasizing an illness for the purpose of evasion and regression.
  • INTROJECTION:Reverse of projection & Internalizing the qualities of an object.
  • PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR:These patients turn their anger against themselves. This phenomenon is called masochism, includes procrastination, silly or provocative behaviour, self demeaning ,clowning and frankly self destructive acts.
  • REGRESSION:Attempting to return to an earlier libidinal phase of functioning to avoid the tension and conflict evoked at the present level of development.
  • SOMATIZATION:Converting psychic derivatives into bodily symptoms and tending to react with somatic manifestations rather than with psychic manifestations.
  • SCHIZOID FANTASY: Indulge in Autistic retreat to resolve conflict and to obtain gratification. 

  • CONTROLLING: Attempting to manage or regulate events or objects in the environment to minimize anxiety and to resolve inner conflicts.
  • DISPLACEMENT:The motive remains unaltered but the person substitutes a different goal object for the original one.
  • EXTERNALIZATION: Tending to perceive in the external world and in external objects, elements of one’s own personality, including instinctual impulses, conflicts, moods, attitudes and styles of thinking. 
  • INTELLECTUALIZATION: Excessively using intellectual process to avoid affective expression or experience. 
  • ISOLATION: Characteristic of the orderly, controlled persons who are labelled as Obsessive compulsive personalities.
  • RATIONALIZATION: Offering rational explanations in an attempt to justify attitudes, beliefs or behaviour that may otherwise be unacceptable.
  • DISSOCIATION: Polly anna(subconscious bias towards the positive) like replacement of unpleasant affects with pleasant ones.
  • REACTION FORMATION:Transforming an unacceptable impulse into its opposite & Characteristic of obsessional neurosis
  • REPRESSION:Repression is the unconscious blocking of unacceptable thoughts, feelings and impulses.
  • SEXUALISATION:Endowing an object or function with a sexual significance that it did not previously have or possessed to a smaller degree, to ward off anxieties associated with prohibited impulses or their derivatives.
  • Altruism:Involves an individual getting pleasure from giving to others what the individual would have liked to receive.
  • Anticipation:Involves careful planning or worrying and premature, but realistic anticipation of dire and potentially dreadful outcomes.

  • Humour:Using comedy to overtly express feelings and thoughts without personal discomfort and without producing an unpleasant effect on the others.
  • Suppression:Consciously or semi consciously postponing attention to a conscious impulse or conflict.
  • Sublimation :Consists of redirection of sexual impulses to socially valued activities and goals.
Exam Question
  • A student justifying his bad marks in an examination saying that the teacher did not give him the marks that he deserve because he does not like him, is an example of Projection defence mechanism.
  • Anticipation & Altruism is a mature defence mechanism
  • Ego's defence mechanism "Undoing" is typically seen in Obsessive compulsive neurosis
  • One of the important defence mechanism is Repression
  • Projection, Undoing,Conversion & Reaction formation are defence mechanisms of ego
  • Defence mechanism in OCD Repression,Undoing & Displacement

Don't Forget to Solve all the previous Year Question asked on DEFENCE MECHANISM