It is great to be writing on Medium, especially writing what I know and have experienced.
According to the American Psychological Association:
in classical psychoanalytic theory, an unconscious reaction pattern employed by the ego to protect itself from the anxiety that arises from psychic conflict. Such mechanisms range from mature to immature, depending on how much they distort reality: Denial is very immature because it negates reality, whereas sublimation is one of the most mature forms of defense because it allows indirect satisfaction of a true wish. In more recent psychological theories, defense mechanisms are seen as normal means of coping with everyday problems and external threats, but excessive use of any one, or the use of immature defenses (e.g., displacement or repression), is still considered pathological. Also called escape mechanism. See also avoidance; projection; rationalization; regression; substitution. [proposed in 1894 by Sigmund Freud]
Defense mechanisms used to be a place to start healing. Not a place to make or call home.
I saw this when I worked in a group home for teen boys. But, it’s more frequent than that. For someone who is scared of heights, society would say, “they are someone who just doesn’t like heights.” They don’t see a problem.
Can you think of a defense mechanism that we have seen in society, whether good or bad?
In my studies, research, and experience I can say there are many defense mechanisms. Even someone getting irritated at a waitress could be a defense mechanism.
How We Use Them
In simple, a defense mechanism is used when we feel vulnerable or we feel an increase in stress we don’t like.
We use them to displace the stress or to not be a target.
As I write in the following story, it is needed for us to be able to take on life like in a wrestling match — and win.
One area I would like to hit is teens.
We see many times when children and teens with childhood sexual abuse (CSA) will not bathe, dress less attractive, let their physical health decline, for girls they will dress off (oddly, neutral, very vibrant or “their new personality”), and subconsciously for boys act feminine, so as to not be attractive to an abuser. This causes many barriers to successfully transition into adulthood. No one grows or snaps out of this. It’s trauma, it’s not a new theme or a new them.
Epidemiological studies find a positive association between physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and witnessing violence in childhood and same-sex sexuality in adulthood.
Source: Roberts, A. L., Glymour, M. M., & Koenen, K. C. (2013). Does maltreatment in childhood affect sexual orientation in adulthood?. Archives of sexual behavior, 42(2), 161–171. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-012-0021-9
It is common in group homes to see defense mechanisms such as this. There is one piece of information that is not used in group homes and it is the quote I used.
Society really lets young people live their whole lives without touching base to cover past sexual abuse.
Imagine for a second this was you; this was your life.
Would you want someone to help or just go with the rest of society? If someone jumps on me for what I say, for example, I know they were triggered. It’s not me, it’s what triggered that in them in the past.
There are clinical studies that talked about defense mechanisms leading to unhealthy sexuality or sexuality problems. Defense mechanisms are:
- trauma-inflicted sexual orientation change
- lack of healthy sexual interest
What was once a defense mechanism, and still is, clinically, has now been allowed to be an identity.
It is not my wish that anyone feels discouraged. Most defense mechanisms are natural and all well. Clinical psychologists will tell you it’s only the overuse of defense mechanisms that is bad.
But, there are some defense mechanisms that are harmful, again:
…defense mechanisms are seen as normal means of coping with everyday problems and external threats, but excessive use of any one, or the use of immature defenses (e.g., displacement or repression), is still considered pathological. Also called escape mechanism. See also avoidance; projection; rationalization; regression; substitution. [proposed in 1894 by Sigmund Freud]
Thank you for reading!! Thank you for your positive comments!! Let me know if anyone would like me to write further and more in-depth on defense mechanisms.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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