defense mechanism

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defense mechanism

n.
1. Biology A physiological reaction of an organism used in self-protection, as against infection.
2. Psychology Any of various usually unconscious mental processes, including denial, projection, rationalization, and repression, that protect the ego from shame, anxiety, conflict, loss of self-esteem, or other unacceptable feelings or thoughts.

defense′ mech`anism


n.
an unconscious process that protects an individual from unacceptable or painful ideas or impulses.
[1890–95]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.defense mechanism - (psychiatry) an unconscious process that tries to reduce the anxiety associated with instinctive desires
unconscious process, process - a mental process that you are not directly aware of; "the process of denial"
psychiatry, psychological medicine, psychopathology - the branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders
compensation - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism that conceals your undesirable shortcomings by exaggerating desirable behaviors
conversion - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism represses emotional conflicts which are then converted into physical symptoms that have no organic basis
denial - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism that denies painful thoughts
displacement - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism that transfers affect or reaction from the original object to some more acceptable one
idealisation, idealization - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism that splits something you are ambivalent about into two representations--one good and one bad
intellectualisation, intellectualization - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism that uses reasoning to block out emotional stress and conflict
isolation - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which memory of an unacceptable act or impulse is separated from the emotion originally associated with it
projection - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism by which your own traits and emotions are attributed to someone else
psychoanalytic process - a process that is assumed to occur in psychoanalytic theory
rationalisation, rationalization - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism by which your true motivation is concealed by explaining your actions and feelings in a way that is not threatening
reaction formation - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously develops attitudes and behavior that are the opposite of unacceptable repressed desires and impulses and serve to conceal them; "his strict morality is just a reaction formation to hide his sexual drive"
regression - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which you flee from reality by assuming a more infantile state
repression - (psychiatry) the classical defense mechanism that protects you from impulses or ideas that would cause anxiety by preventing them from becoming conscious
References in periodicals archive ?
Like the city dweller's deadpan mien, does abstraction arise organically from the matrix of urban modernity, as a pictorial reaction-formation, or--to propose an alternative diagnosis--is the attenuation of sensation itself the malady, treatable not in kind, anaesthetically, but with an intensified campaign of perception: a "painting of modern life" reformatted to the accelerated tempo of urbanization?
In his brilliant essay, Malaspina diagnoses the cause of Katherine's initial "shrewishness" as reaction-formation to her father's favoritism towards Katherine's younger sister.
But a true Freudian reading would suggest that although Volodya thinks his problem is his love for mother, that obsession is a reaction-formation to cover up his anger and his more dangerous desire for his father.