Today was a sleep-til-2 day, a finally-done-the-semester day. Aside from showering, dancing to 'I Can Transform Ya' on repeat on iTunes, and driving my car to meet some people, that was about the only physical activity I've had today. Other than that, I haven't moved from my bed. I've just been so freaked out about the future lately, but that's not what I'm hear to talk about. I've begun to notice how I react to the anxiety and stress, rather, my defense mechanisms.
We all have our own defense mechanisms, and today I have become fascinated with all of them. I always thought it was just 'run as fast as you can' or 'step up and ninja drop kick.' But in actuality there's the 'cold-shoulder', 'punching the wall' (literally), and many more. So before you read on, I ask you, what do you THINK your defense mechanism is? Maybe I should quickly explain what a def mech is. It is how our ego (so freudian, I know) handles itself and reacts to anxiety, self-image, and conflict. So without further ado, let's dive into how we handle things. Hope you brought you scuba gear (Jamie, you need to stop these lame puns, I know haha)!
1) Lets start out with the first one, the most common one. Denial. Denial is simply refusing to acknowledge or accept a situation is occurring or to consciously realize an obvious truth. For example, let's say your boyfriend is cheating on you. You have read the text messages in his phone, your friends have told you, and hell, you've even seen a video of the two of them banging one out that your boyfriend has sent to his buddies. Instead of accepting this fact, you simply deny it. You act like it isn't happening and just continue on in the relationship like everything is perfect. Denial may make the anxiety go away for a little while, but it takes SO much energy to do so. Because of this, your body has to also use other def mechs just to keep the feelings down away from your consciousness.
2) Repression, also known as my best friend. Repression keeps worries out of my mind, he makes all the embarrassing and bad moments that I've experienced in my life out of my head. But in the clinical terms, repression is the act of keeping information out of conscious awareness. Ever hear of the phrase ignorance is bliss? This applies to repression. I say it's my best friend also because this is probably the def mech I use the most. If something is bothering me, say I'm anxious about what apartment I'm living in next year, I simply will just push it out of my mind, physically try and will it away. However, this mech does have it's repercussions. If a person has repressed feelings about being abused in childhood, he or she may have difficulty getting close to someone and have a fear of trust.
3) Have you ever just had a bad day where nothing seems to go right? You wake up in the morning and you cut yourself right on your ankle while shaving, your bangs won't cooperate and lay just the right way, and you get to class only to realize you forgot to study for the quiz you had today. After all this anger and annoyance is built up in you, you meet your friend for lunch and randomly start yelling at her for being 2 minutes late for lunch and questioning her why she wore those boots again because they are so ugly. This taking out your feelings on someone else is called displacement. In using this defense mechanism, it's easier to argue and express your feelings to someone that poses no threat to us - which would be friends, significant others, and even pets.
4) Sometimes we just get so frustrated and aggravated that we just have to hit something. This is sublimation, the defense mechanism that allows us to act out rash impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form, such as kickboxing. This is like using an outlet, and also the def mech that Freud considers mature people to use. It sounds so much cleaner that the first three already haha, even though it's not the easiest. Our mind is already programmed with complicated, and even though going for a run might seem so logical while were under stress, it's not the first choice our mind takes sometimes.
5) Projection is when a person denies their own thoughts and emotions and then ascribes them to the outside world. I was confused a little when I read this, but when I read an example, it helped me understand. Say Fred is considering cheating on Kelly. Instead of dealing with these thoughts consciously, Fred unconsciously projects his feelings and attributes them to Kelly, and now Fred thinks Kelly is the one who is cheating on him. In this way, Fred won't feel guilty anymore because he believes Kelly is doing the same to him, therefore reducing his anxiety.
6) Intellectualization tries to reduce anxiety by thinking about events in terms of facts and logic without any feelings. For example, say a person is diagnosed with cancer. Instead of allowing their feelings to get in the way, they focus on learning everything about the disease in order to avoid the reality of the situation. Have you ever seen the movie 'My Sister's Keeper?' Cameron Diaz plays a Mom who goes through intellectualization where she researches everything about the disease and how to keep her daughter alive instead of having to deal with the pain of having a sickly child.
7) The defense mechanism that involves explaining unacceptable or hurtful behavior in a rational, logical manner is called rationalization. This often protects our ego and self-esteem the most and is effective in reducing anxiety. An example would be blaming a failed test score on the exam professor rather than their own lack of preparation. Or another would be telling yourself 'I wasn't attracted to that person, anyway," after you've gotten turned down from a date. It's rationalizing our and others behavior to make ourselves feel better.
8) When confronted by stressful event, some people will abandon all their learned coping strategies and revert into patterns of behavior used in earlier life. This is called regression. The behavior we tend to revert back to depends upon the psycho-sexual stage of development we are fixated on. For example, a person that is fixated at the oral stage may turn to eating or smoking when going through a difficult time (oral = mouth = food, ciggies). Or a person fixated at the anal stage may revert to cleaning or reorganization their entire closet (think of someone being 'anal' and having to have everything just right).
9) This next defense mech is kind of ironic to me. It's called reaction formation, and it is taking up the opposite feeling we feel to reduce anxiety. An example of this would be treating a person we cannot stand in an excessively kind and friendly manner in order to conceal our true feelings.
These are Freud's defense mechanisms that I have described to you. He was a crazy guy, but I believe he was very intelligent. So, tell me bloggies, which ones apply to you?
Personally, I use the repression and rationalization the most. And it's not uncommon to use a bunch of different ones throughout different situations.
I would love to stay and chat more, but now it's 4:20 in the morning, and I have to get up early to go Christmas shopping. I'm embracing for the crowds, but I LOVE IT! I love the hustle and bustle and the Christmas music throughout the stores. It's truly the most, wonderful time of the yeaaarrrr. So goodnight, I think the room is spinning to me. I've been thinking about these def mechs to much haha, time to lay down. Goodnight <3