Defense Mechanisms

Freud first elaborated on the idea of defense mechanisms in 1926 (Freud, 1926/1959a), and his daughter Anna further refined and organized the concept (A. Freud, 1946). Although defense mechanisms are normal and universally used, when carried to an extreme they lead to compulsive, repetitive, and neurotic behavior. Because we must expend psychic energy to establish and maintain defense mechanisms, the more defensive we are, the less psychic energy we have left to satisfy id

Chapter 2 Freud: Psychoanalysis 35

impulses. This, of course, is precisely the egos purpose in establishing defense mechanisms—to avoid dealing directly with sexual and aggressive implosives and to defend itself agamst the anxiety that accompanies them (Freud 1926/1959a).

The prmcipal defense mechanisms identified by Freud include repression, reaction formation, displacement, fixation, regression, projection, introjection, and sublimation.

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