THIS WEEK’S ASSIGNMENT:
Pick at least three defense mechanisms that you have experienced yourself or observed in others. Define and describe each of the defense mechanisms. Express why they were used and how they protected whomever and if the defense mechanism was successful.
By Evan Klinger
I use defense mechanisms every day to get through my life and make sure that I am safe and sound at the end of each day.
The first defense mechanism I use is called Denial. Sigmund Freud defined Denial involving denying the existence of an external threat or traumatic event. While employed often with humans, I regularly use Denial when I am faced with a barking or ferocious dog. I have found that by turning my back on a mean dog, the lack of attention I give them changes their personality. My denial of the dog’s ability to attack me takes away the dog’s desire to attack me because I do not give it an audience. This is similar to when a baby falls and bumps its head. If you deny that the action ever happened, the baby does not neccessarily know to react with crying and will internalize the injury because of your denial.
The second defense mechanism I use often is Rationalization. This involves reinterpreting behavior to make it more acceptable and less threating. I sadly had to use a technique with a friend of mine who told me 17 years ago that he was infected with the HIV virus. I rationalized that if there was any time on the planet to get an incurable disease, it was now, in the era we live in because modern medicine is poised for a break through and HIV is so visible that something will be done. By calming down my friend and always giving him hope, he has been able to live a healthy and productive life for the last 17 years.
The third and final defense mechanism that I employ is Regression. Regression involves retreating to an earlier, less frustrating period of life and displaying the childish and dependent behaviors characteristic of that more secure time. Regression has struck me when I least expected it and I would say it was not a calculated defense mechanism, but a knee jerk reaction to a bad situation. I was an American Army soldier in the late 1990s and there were moments of travesty that I could not bear to see with my eyes. I had a very happy childhood so when I would be in a room full of despair, ugliness, and death I would focus on the very specific physical items in the room that I have a happy childhood connection with. These items usually included video games, or balloons, or a soccer ball. If I could fill my bad times with these happy items, my body’s defense mechanism of regression would take me to a familiar physical action that created happy endorphins in my body to wash away any pain I was feeling.