I USE WHATEVER I CAN
to escape my fears
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SITE: Defense Mechanisms Quiz
BOOK:”In sheep’s Clothing” (re. manipulative people) go to slide 50 ++
DEF: Unconscious & conscious processes to defend against or escape from conflicts, frustration and depression, so that the person can make useful adjustments to their society.
REMINDER – as such, defenses are NOT bad. They are needed to cope with life’s difficulties, as when we use humor to lighten our mood or altruism to lighten someone else’s load. At best most defenses are delaying tactics, giving us breathing room to take a break & re-group. The problem comes when any one of them become ‘land-locked’, so deeply ingrained that it can’t be given up easily, so rigid that it’s used like a hammer on every problem, regardless of size or importance. In that case they become “Negative Benefits” – used to avoid childhood or other trauma which the person does not want to deal face.
• To better understand what Negative Benefits (NB) are, we need to know about Defense Mechanisms, which were first identified by Freud, & then added to over the years by others. He noted that people have wishes, desired & impulses that are either unacceptable to their society, religion or family – or their own sense of self (CHART)
• The fact that the impulses don’t go away, but are usually hidden in our unconscious, leaves a residue (like at the bottom of a bottle) of anxiety*. Keeping the impulses pushed out of awareness takes a lot of energy – which is exhausting, but is considered by the ‘user’ to be safer than admitting (EXP: wanting to kill one’s parents or oneself). We do this by using Defenses. Which ones we pick will depend on our upbringing & our native personality.
*ANXIETY types, according to Freud
1. Neurotic – the unconscious worry that we’ll lose control of the id’s urges, resulting in punishment for inappropriate behavior
2. Moral – the fear of violating our own moral principles
3. Reality – the fear of real-world events. The cause is usually easy to identify.
EXP: fear of being bitten when near a menacing, snarling, barking dog is appropriate – so it’s best to avoid genuinely dangerous situations (PPT) if at all possible.
Defense Mechanisms distort reality. In proper proportion & with limited use they can also be adaptive, allowing us to function normally in very difficult situations, where there are no other options.
The big problem comes from over-using them, as a way of life, even when they’re no longer needed. What was once a way to cope then becomes the problem. The goal in Recovery is to make the extreme/ harmful use of defenses conscious so the we can develop healthier ways of handling anxiety and stress – without eliminating defenses altogether.
NEXT: 27 Defenses