[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t was famed psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud who introduced the concept of defense mechanisms, a topic his daughter Anna Freud later expanded on in her book “The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense“. Freud proposed that when the ego is confronted with information or experiences that conflicts with it’s self schema, it reflexively deploys psychological defense mechanisms to shield against the psychological distress of anxiety, depression and low self esteem that would result from acceptance.
The use of psychological defense mechanisms seems to stem from the ego’s need for psychological and emotional stability. The ego forms a conception of itself and draws boundaries for what it accepts and does not accept as part of it’s identity. In every individual, there are feelings, thoughts, and impulses existing in our psyche that are not acted on because they are either deemed as inappropriate by social standards or because they conflict with personal standards or beliefs held by the individual’s “ego ideal”. There are numerous types of defense mechanisms, many of them healthy when used maturely, such as humor, altruism and sublimation. Other forms, such as projection, denial, and “acting out” are considered unhealthy and result from a lack of self-knowledge.Continue reading