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What are Defence Mechanisms Pt 3

What are Defence Mechanisms Pt 3

Secondary Defence Mechanisms

Secondary reality distortion defences may provide valuable back-up strategies of disguise when the primaries are inadequate or inappropriate. Projection involves attributing unacceptable traits or impulses to others: typically, we may see in others chara- cteristics we cannot admit in ourselves. Although one finger may be pointing towards the offending party, three are pointing back to ourselves. This mechanism is commonly implicated in paranoia, where aggressive tendencies towards others are disguised by the allegation that others are doing the persecuting.

In reaction formation, an unacceptable impulse is hidden from awareness by its opposite. For instance, overprotective parents may be, unconsciously, camouflaging a lack of concern for their children.  Another secondary reality distortion defence is rationalisation, the domain of self-deceiving justifications for distasteful impulses or actions. An act of aggression may, thereby, be rationalised by taking the view that the victim deserved it. A rationalisation may be a good reason for an action, but is essentially an excuse rather than the real reason.

Behaviour-Channelling Defence Mechanisms

Behaviour-channelling defences direct behaviour in ways to protect from or resolve anxiety-provoking scenarios. In displacement, an impulse is redirected, frequently from a dangerous object to a safe one. This reduces anxiety and permits at least partial gratification. To illustrate, a person has a run-in with the boss at work, then rechannels the resulting aggression into road rage, arguing with his/her partner, ridiculing the children, or kicking the dog.  Sublimation is similar to displacement in that an unacceptable impulse is channelled into a more socially acceptable outlet. A compromise may then be effected between id demands and superego dictates. Accordingly, individuals with latent and powerful sexual or aggressive tendencies may throw themselves into ethical, intellectual or artistic endeavours. Freud viewed sublimation as the most desirable and valuable of all the defence mechanisms and, indeed, as the basis of all culture and civilisation.

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