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A Brief Look At Psychological Defense Mechanisms

Ego defense mechanisms are tools used by the ego to avoid states of anxiety. While psychological defense mechanisms can have a beneficial function, they can also hold you back from making a consciousness shift and becoming the person you aspire to be.

The Structure Of The Personality

Freud’s most famous contribution to psychology holds that the personality has three components: the id, the superego and the ego.

The id is the aspect of the personality that wants immediate gratification. It operates on the pleasure principle.

The superego is the idealistic, moral self. It wants to suppress the urges of the id.

The ego is the negotiator. It works to balance the needs of the superego and the id. When the ego has trouble balancing the needs of the id and the superego, it will use an ego defense to avoid feeling anxiety.

A List Of Defense Mechanisms You May Have Heard About

  • Denial: probably the most common type of defense, denial is refusing to recognize the existence of something
  • Displacement: taking out frustrations, feelings, and impulses on towards someone or something less threatening
  • Intellectualization: thinking rationally to avoid feeling emotionally about an event or circumstance
  • Projection: placing one’s own unacceptable personal qualities and feelings onto other people
  • Rationalization: giving a logical reason for an unacceptable behavior or feeling rather than real reason
  • Reaction Formation: taking the opposite feeling, impulse, or behavior to avoid the anxiety associated with the real one
  • Regression: reverting to behaviors used earlier in earlier stages of development
  • Repression: pushing information that’s uncomfortable out of conscious awareness, into the unconscious
  • Sublimation: acting out unacceptable impulses by turning them into a more acceptable form
  • Suppression: purposely pushing something out of consciousness

The Truth About Ego Defense Mechanisms

Psychological defense mechanisms are tools used by the personality to make life easier. If you didn’t have them at your disposal, life would not be pleasant! The aim in life isn’t to get rid of your defenses, but to realize that sometimes we can overuse them which can be destructive.

I had always been heavy but I became very overweight during a difficult period of my life, I was more than 90 lbs heavier than I am today. Food become the object of my obsession. Bingeing was common place. I know that I used food because I was in a state of denial. By enlisting the help of a therapist, meditating, and transforming my diet, I was eventually able to face reality and get off the bingeing circuit.

That’s when my self growth really kicked into high gear. I’ve also probably relied too heavily on projection in my lifetime. I used to very easily see the faults in others. I didn’t even know I was doing it until one day a friend told me that I think I’m better than everyone else! That was a much needed wake-up call.

Now that you know all the types of ego defense mechanisms you might be employing, take an honest look at your life and your behavior. Sometimes you need the honest feedback of a friend or even a therapist to see how these are operating in your life and holding you back from a consciousness shift.


I subscribe to the age-old philosophy that first you have to BE before you can DO and HAVE what you want. I created this site to give readers practical and motivational success tips! In every post you will find simple success principles that will cause you to succeed.

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