Freudian Defense Mechanisms essay

According to the Freudian Psychoanalytic Theory, defense mechanisms were made to diminish the feeling of anxiety. Anxiety can be caused by a traumatic experience, unconscious fear, and fear of violation social norms. Basically, defense mechanisms are positive for the person feeling anxious. The defense mechanisms are namely: repression, denial, projection, rationalization, intellectualization, regression, and displacement (Freud, 1937). These defensive mechanisms are conceptualized for humans to cope up in different events of life.

A normal person uses most of these defensive mechanisms. Using only one defensive mechanism would entail that a person can be a psychotic or a neurotic. This field of study was pushed through by her daughter Anna Freud (1937). Repression refers to the conscious or unconscious negation of stressful emotions that might cause anxiety (Freud, 1937). Repression is commonly known as being defensive. Repressing is like the diminishing of a bad memory that a person does not want to remember because it might be abusive or traumatic.

Examples for this defense mechanism could be a rape victims because she tend to forget what has happened to her so that she can move on hence the there is already a stigma for the victim though she did not want it to happen. Another example could be a debtor who claims that he forgot that he had a debt. Repression has some advantages: it can limit inhibitions to manifest, it can hinder bad thought from transforming into conscious actions and lastly it can prevent memories of our mistakes and hinder it to resurface again.

Basically, repression tends to make the individual consciously forget bad stimuli to avoid criticisms. Repression can be advantageous to conceal one’s dark past, to motivate the person to not mess up again and lastly to overcome fears of committing the mistake again. Denial refers to the denial of the person to believe about the negative stimuli (Freud, 1937). It is the like blocking out the truth due to sheer disbelief. For example, a student got a failing grade in one of his subject and by failing the student assumed that there might be a discrepancy or a miscalculation of his or her grades.

Another example could be a death of a relative, the individual might believe that the relative is just sleeping and will wake up with the right stimulus hence there is no chance for the dead to come back to life. Denial is simply not abiding to truth though the person consciously knows that he or she is wrong. Denial also has advantages if reinforced with some evidences, denial can be effective. For example, the ever popular notion of “the more you hate, the more you love”, this refers to the denial of the person to show affection to the other person, well in fact, that person has affections but has not been able to manifest it.

Denial is advantageous when the person is sure or unsure of might have a Another defense mechanism is projection which refers to the attribution of repressed thoughts a person to the person he or she despises the most (Freud, 1937). Basically, projection is the image of the negative stimuli to another person which in turn becomes the person’s release for anxiety. For example, a person projects himself to impress a girl hence the behavior that he projects is completely opposite on how he behave.

By projecting the positive attitude, he has a good chance to impress the girl but it will not be an assurance since he is only faking it. Advantages of projection could a projection of someone good and influence other about the good deeds of that person. Another is that projecting a trait means that there is a chance for the people to change since subconsciously he know what it is like to project what is right. Rationalization is simply making a reasonable or a logical argument for negative actions (Freud, 1937). A defensive mechanism because it deems to preserve the person‘s self-esteem and becomes are deterrent for criticisms.

For example, in a basketball game, you missed the game-winning shot; the rationalization is “I deliberately missed it to give them a chance”. Another example could be, it is summer and it’s time for you learn to swimming but you refused. The justification was “water sports is not my type”. Rationalization is highly associated with self-serving bias which refers to the tendency of the person to accredit all the positive aspects to him and dismissing the idea that other people and associate them to the negative aspects.

Another defense mechanism is intellectualization which refers to the separation of subjectivity and objectivity that gives favor to objectivity (Freud, 1937). Intellectualization dismisses anxiety by taking away the emotion in a certain event and focus on fact. Basically, intellectualization is dichotomizing subjectivity and objectivity of an event. An example of this could be a death of loved one, the person left behind is mourning for the departure of the loved one and yet is willing to continue on life with the argument that all goes to that path and everyone dies.

Intellectualization is setting aside emotions and deal with factual information. This can be advantageous to the person using the mechanism because he or she can learn more things and be aware of the problem hence his or her emotional attachment cannot be disregarded that easily. Regression refers to the loss of ability to solve a problem in a mature manner and using childish methods to recuperate (Freud, 1937). A good example could be, smoking for adults and lollipop licking for child. The frequency of smoking is like the frequency of having a lollipop when they were young.

This is used to capture a childhood satisfaction that the person misses. It is like nostalgia of everything. Regression can be advantageous for person’s that is attempting to quit a certain fixation, for example, smoking, drinking, etc. Regressing can help because the person looks unto things in a different manner or can we say child-like. Disadvantages could be the person might feel Displacement refers to the change of intended targets because the intended or the initial target became a threat.

Basically, displacement is the channeling of a negative stimulus to an object or person to release anxiety that person is feeling. For example, a student did not finish his exam and would possibly get a failing mark due to this he comes home mad and was not able to eat. This can be similar to denial also because the student cannot accept the fact that he did not finish the exam. Displacement has advantages one is that the negative stimuli can motivate a person to channel the negative stimuli to a positive one. Also displacement keeps a person’s temperament low because the person can release his or her anger onto something.

All of these defensive mechanisms are involving memory and the three divisions of the mind which are id, ego and superego hence it cannot still be fully determined how these defense mechanisms were come about. The psychoanalytic theory really sparked something in the field of psychology. Making people realize that people defend themselves, their emotions and their well-being as being perceived by society. I think defense mechanisms are not needed if there is no stereotyping and being judgmental about the issues of other people.

The psychoanalytic approach assumed that people are critics so they become because it was what Freud projected. A tribute to her father; it has been a great discovery, another complexity of mankind.


Freud, A. (1937). The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis. Schnigel, R. (2005). Freudian Defense Mechanisms. Mental Cushions Created to Protect Against Stress Retrieved on: March 31, 2008 from: http://www. associatedcontent. com/user/5647/rebecca_schingel. html Cramer, P. (1991). The Development of Defense Mechanisms: Theory, Research, and Assessment. New York, Springer-Verlag.