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Defense Mechanisms - A List of Choices

  • accusing
  • acting out - giving expression to forbidden desires without concern for negative consequences.
  • aggression
  • arguing
  • analysing.
  • assertion
  • avoidance
  • blaming
  • challenging
  • cockiness
  • compensation - hiding a weakness in one area by excelling or being rewarded in another.
  • compliance
  • complaining
  • compromise
  • confusion
  • control
  • criticism
  • deception
  • defiance
  • denial - refusing to acknowledge the thought or feeling
  • devaluation
  • discounting
  • displacement - channelling thoughts or feelings to a neutral or weaker person or object..
  • dissociation
  • distrust
  • emotional insulation - withdrawing into inaction so one doesn't get hurt.
  • explaining
  • externalisation - pinpointing outside forces as the cause of our behaviour so we don't have to accept personal responsibility for our actions.
  • fantasizing - not paying attention or using daydreams to escape an uncomfortable situation.
  • humour
  • identification - identifying oneself with a prestigious individual or institution to build one's sense of self-worth.
  • intellectualisation - coming up with highly intellectual reasons or convincing arguments to justify the situation and keep attention away from feelings.
  • introjection - adopting external values and standards as one's own to ensure those standards are not used against him/her.
  • isolation - separating feelings and thoughts that are connected
  • isolation of affect - 'thinking' feelings rather than actually experiencing them
  • judging
  • justifying
  • know it all
  • laughing it off
  • lying
  • manipulation
  • minimizing - writing off problematic events and behaviors as being too minor to worry about.
  • passive aggression - indirect and unassertive expression of aggression towards another.
  • projection - perceiving that another has our thoughts or feelings so we don't have to own them.
  • rationalization - thinking up reasons to justify what's happening while ignoring one's feelings.
  • reaction formation - unconsciously thinking, feeling and acting in ways that are opposite to how we really think and feel.
  • regression - slipping back into old, often immature, ways of behaving to release the feelings.
  • repression - burying thoughts and feelings in our unconscious so we no longer have memory of them.
  • ridicule
  • seeking approval
  • self-deception
  • shouting
  • silence
  • smiling
  • sublimation - channelling socially unacceptable feelings into a socially productive activity.
  • suppression - some awareness of a thought or feeling, but we try to hide it.
  • threatening
  • undoing - doing the opposite of how one feels to try to negate the feelings.
  • violence
  • withdrawing

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