Feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy interfere with taking in positive experiences, leaving only hopelessness.
And so the unconscious motive to satisfy others will often conflict with our basic need for self-preservation.
Moreover, in addition to these social demands, the physical world around us often assaults us through accidents and natural disasters. Common ways of protecting ourselves emotionally were called mechanisms by Sigmund Freud.
When seen in pathological settings, these mechanisms can technically be called defense mechanisms; when seen in everyday life, they can be more properly called dynamic mechanisms. Modern psychiatry, however, uses the term defense mechanism in both pathological and everyday settings.
Through the hard work of psychotherapy you can learn to bring into conscious awareness all the threatening thoughts, feelings, memories, wishes, and fears pushed out of consciousness by your defenses. Once these inner experiences are properly understood consciously, you can begin to live an emotionally open and honest life.
Some defense mechanisms allow for self-protection while maintaining a full awareness of the thoughts and feelings involved in dealing with the challenge facing you. You think ahead to events that might occur in the future and consider realistic responses or solutions.
You seek out others for emotional support or physical help.
You do good and kind things for others, rather than worry about your own immediate satisfaction or fears. You notice the amusing or ironic truth of something. Some individuals, however, use humor as an unhealthy way to avoid conflict.
From the way they speak, you might get the impression that these persons are always good-natured and happy, because they are always laughing. But if you listen closely to that laughter, you can hear any of three things.
For example, this person could be carrying so much residual childhood resentment in her heart for the way her parents mistreated her that the thought of her now causing someone else to suffer provides an unconscious satisfaction for the injustices she had to suffer as a child.
Thus her laughter reveals the truth: Or, you might hear someone giggle while speaking about a scandalous topic. In this case, the giggle reveals that although she is saying that the topic is scandalous, she really desires to do it herself.
You act toward others in a way that is emotionally genuine and honest and that is not coercive or manipulative. You reflect upon and consider your emotions and thoughtsso as to act responsibly.
You direct socially harmful impulses into socially acceptable forms of behavior. Keep in mind, though, that some forms of sublimation, such as playing violent video games, although socially acceptable, can still be psychologically unhealthy because the behavior breeds a pernicious desire for anger and revenge.
You avoid thinking about disturbing experiences or feelings. Done in moderation, and in the proper circumstances, this can be healthy and protective. But in excess it becomes avoidance, one of the characteristic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Inhibitory Defenses This sort of defensive functioning serves to keep threatening thoughts, feelings, memories, wishes, or fears out of conscious awareness.
You transfer your feelings about one object to another, less threatening object. For example, a man angry at his boss comes home and yells at his children.
You separate yourself from reality by a breakdown of normal conscious functions of memory or identity.
As a normal childhood developmental process of taking in of experience symbolically in order to identify with other persons especially parentsthis is often called introjection.
But identification can also have a defensive function, as in identification with the aggressor. You focus on abstract logic or philosophy and minimize feelings about an event. For example, after an earthquake damages your home, you talk to others primarily about the structural engineering factors of the damage.
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