If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:8:36

Video transcript

defense mechanisms are ways of protecting ourselves when we have to deal with our unconscious wants feelings desires impulses in some ways defense mechanisms actually act as a psychological shield against our anxiety or discomfort at these unconscious psychological processes and defense mechanisms have actually been classified into several different categories the first category was described as being pathological defense mechanisms and these defense mechanisms are generally thought to distort reality so that a person can deal with a situation so while there's several of these the most important one is one called denial where the person just pretends that something hasn't happened or isn't true for example if someone's diagnosed with breast cancer a defense mechanism would be for them to deny that such a thing has happened will deny that they have breast cancer and denial is the main defense mechanism that I want to talk about under this pathological category there are a number of defense mechanisms here but I'm just going to pick out the most important ones for you to know one step up from pathological defense mechanisms we actually move into a category called immature defense mechanisms and while these are sometimes present in adults they are generally not as socially accepted and if defense mechanisms are commonly used it may cause somebody to have social problems one of the key defense mechanisms here is called projection and what happens here in projection is that somebody puts attributes their own hidden and unconscious thoughts or emotions and actually and attributes them to somebody else so someone is very very very jealous for example they can actually project out that jealousy and say oh that other person actually has the problems with jealousy and it's not really me it's a way of being able to shift one's own feelings across to somebody else and identify somebody else as possessing these unacceptable thoughts or feelings so that's projection but what can actually so happen is something called projective identification in projective identification once that person has something attributed to them projected on to them like jealousy for example that person can actually subsequently start to demonstrate exactly those thoughts or feelings or whatever is being projected onto and actually start to feel that way like yes I am a jealous person and maybe I'm going to act like that so this projection can subsequently once it's project on this individual this individual may start acting in that manner and that's what projective identification another important immature defense mechanism to think about is passive aggression and what happens in passive aggression is someone expresses their aggression by actually failing to do something or doing something very slowly for somebody else so it's a indirect or passive way of expressing their anger okay so as we can see so far we've outlined one pathological defense mechanism denial and two immature defense mechanisms and this is by no means comprehensive there are many more defense mechanisms but I'm picking out the most important ones now let's move on to a set of defense mechanisms that are called neurotic and let's start by one called intellectualization and what happens in intellectualization is that somebody picks out the intellectual aspects of any situation and detaches it from the emotional aspects taking away that anxiety invoking emotional part of the situation so this is really a separation of emotion from ideas related to this is another defense mechanism by the name of rationalisation and what happens in rationalization is that we figure out a way of making the excuse and convincing ourselves that we were at no fault oftentimes our thought process may involve some false logic or false reasoning but it's useful for us because it enables us to avoid blaming us we also have another neurotic defense mechanism by the name of regression and what happens in regression is that we end up performing behaviors as if we were at a much younger stage in our lives so for example if we can talk and speak and move around and do things normally we may resort to whining or throwing a tantrum or acting in a way that is much more like somebody that was at a much younger stage in life some people might say acting like a baby and a very similar word to this is something called repression but it's actually a very different concept this is like most of these defense mechanisms and unconscious process where our thoughts that may be coming into our consciousness or push down into our unconscious and finally in this category we have something called displacement and I'm actually going to go down a little bit just to show you what that looks like what can happen in displacement is that an individual may feel very angry towards one person but because it's not safe or it may be difficult to express that anger they may displace that on anger onto an easier target for example if a wife is angry at her husband she made instead of shouting or getting angry at him may actually get angry at her child okay so those are several of the neurotic defense mechanisms now I want to talk to you about some of them sure defense mechanisms and the reason why these are important is that people who demonstrate strong use of defense mechanisms are happier healthier and more satisfied with life so what are these more mature defense mechanisms these defense mechanisms include things like the use of humor the telling of jokes are engaging in humorous activity to partly be truthful about some of these hidden feelings but also to make it much more socially acceptable another defense mechanism here is called sublimation so someone for example really has violent urges they can channel their negative energy into positive energy so for example violent urges may lead to them actually become in a box or a fitness trainer or weightlifter instead of actually going out and hurting someone there's also another process and think about repression what I mentioned earlier it sounds like repression and this actually called suppression and suppression is actually much more conscious way of transferring negative emotions or feelings and pushing them away from conscious law so we can get on with things but we can easily access those thoughts at a later time and finally I want to mention one last defense mechanism which is altruism which is basically when we are in the service of other people we actually feel very fulfilled and gain pleasure and satisfaction so these categories are the mature defense mechanisms so there's certainly a lot of difference mechanisms here it's important to know that this is by no means exhaustive so something else I want to cover as a defense mechanism called reaction formation and this is often referred to as being part of a neurotic group of defense mechanisms but this is particularly interesting because those unconscious wishes or feelings that are experienced by a person they actually end up doing the complete opposite so for example somebody that has a problem with immigration may actually volunteer to work at an immigration center helping people develop their language skills or their visa issues you