The Ego as a Defense Mechanism Essay

The Ego as a Defense Mechanism Essay

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The Ego as a Defense Mechanism

The function of defense is to protect the Ego, and defence may be instigated by Anxiety due to increase in instinctual tension, Super-Ego threats or realistic dangers. Anna Freud lists nine defence : REGRESSION, repression, REACTION FORMATION, ISOLATION, UNDOING, PROJECTION, INTROJECTION, TURNING AGAINST THE SELF, and REVERSAL - plus tenth SUBLIMATION. SPLITTING and DENIAL are also usually listed as defence.

It is usually assumed that defence belong to specific stages of development, e.g. INTROJECTION , projection, denial , splitting to the ORAL phase; reaction-formation , isolation and undoing to the ANAL phase.

Defence Mechanisms are unconscious mental processes which are employed to resolve conflict between instinctive needs ( The Id ), internalized prohibitions (The Super-Ego) and external reality. They Are directed against painful experiences. They are descriptive concepts only.

· Repression:-

It is the basic defence mechanism. There is refusal to recognize external reality and pushing into unconscious of the unacceptable instincts and feelings or conflicting impulses.

Thus their perception is inhibited and prevented from reaching consciousness. Denial is a CONSCIOUS refusal of recognition of external reality.

· Regression:-

Return to an earlier state or mode of functioning. It is a defensive process by which the subject avoids anxiety by return an earlier stage of psychosexual development . The stage to which the regression occurs being determined by the existence of FIXATION POINTS.

· Displacement:-

The process by which energ(CATHEXIS) is transferred from one mental image to another. Displacement is one of the p...

... middle of paper ...

...· REGRESSION is used in Conversion Hysteria and Eating Disorders.

· REVERSAL is manifested in Passive Aggressive and Dependant Personality Disorders.



Freud talked about splitting of the ego, but Melanie Klein considered Splitting as a defense mechanism. The positive and the negative fantasized relationships remain separate in consciousness with one alternative dissociated from the other. The child sees the Good Mother as Separate from the Bad Mother , the patient may see the Madonna as totally different and has nothing to do with the Prostitute.


Part of self is projected into another to harm , control or possess him or her. The dissociated unacceptable parts of the self are projected onto the other then the person identifies with the other.

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