Defense Mechanisms – The Different Types Of Defense Mechanisms

These are the psychology of defense mechanisms and their different types.

DEFENSE MECHANISMS – These are the different types of defense mechanisms that you should know and how these work for people.

According to Freudian theory, defense mechanisms involve “distortion of reality in some so that we are better able to cope with a situation”. People have these defense mechanisms or ego defenses to protect them whenever they feel threatened. It is a natural part of psychological development.

Defense Mechanisms
Photo lifted from WIRED

This was first proposed by Sigmund Freud and over time, the theory evolved. It is an interaction between the id, ego, and superego. Now, why is it important to know your defense mechanism? Accordingly, knowing yours and the other people may help you in the future in terms of having conversations or encounters.

There are a lot of types of ego defense but here are some of the main ones:

  • Denial
    This happens when a person refuses to accept a certain reality because it’s too much to handle for him or her. One situation where one is in denial when he or she doesn’t accept the fact that his or her partner is cheating despite the obvious signs.
  • Repression
    This happens when a person consciously does not want to recognize unsavory thoughts, painful memories, or irrational beliefs because they are very upsetting. But this won’t last long. It may affect future behavior or still surface through slips of the tongue.
  • Projection
    This happens when a person misattributes their unwanted feelings or emotions unto a specific person to another person. For example, you can’t accept that you hate someone because of your superego. Instead of accepting this, you project the hate by thinking that it’s the person who actually hates you.
  • Displacement
    This happens when you wrongly direct your heavy feelings or emotions to someone or something that doesn’t have to do with it. One example is being mad at your boyfriend because of some problems with your mother.
  • Regression
    This happens when a person who is feeling threatened or anxious oddly acts their actions way back when they felt safer. For adults, regression happens when after something frustrating happens, they go back to watching their favorite cartoon or sleeping with their favorite stuffed toy.
  • Sublimation
    This is similar to displacement but instead of being destructing, you use your negative emotions constructively. For example, a writer who is heartbroken. Instead of kicking a dog in the street, the writer grabs a pen and created a sad poem.
  • Rationalization
    This happens when a person distorts a fact by his or her own “set of facts”. Doing so makes them feel comfortable with their decision.
  • Reaction Formation
    This happens when a person already knows what to feel or how to behave but chooses to react in the opposite way.
  • Introjection
    This commonly happens to a child when they internalize an idea coming from their parents or other external authorities. For example, when a dad tells his son “boys don’t cry”, they take it into their way of thinking.
  • Identification with the Aggressor
    According to the Simply Psychology blog, this was proposed by Sandor Ferenczi and developed by Anna Freud. This happens when a person adopts the negative or feared traits of the aggressor.


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