An attempt to make up for real or imagined
weakness. Example: an adolescent perceived
as unattractive becomes an outstanding
behaviors by expressing opposing thoughts or
unconsciously hates his father continuously
says how great his father is.
A refusal to acknowledge a real situation.
Example: a woman who finds a suspicious
lump in her breast does not keep an
appointment for a breast biopsy.
Withdrawing to an earlier level of development
to benefit from the associated comfort levels of
the previous level. Example: a child starts
sucking her thunmb when her new baby
brother comes home from the hospital.
Transferring the feelings associated from one
source to another that is considered less
threatening. Example: a boy who is angry with
a teacher comes home and yells at his dog.
The emulation of admirable qualities in
another to enhance one’s self-esteem.
Example: a child dresses and uses
mannerisms similar to those of a famous rock
Process in which events are analyzed based
on remote facts and without passion, rather
than incorporating feelings and emotion into
the processing. Example: A woman talks
about her son’s death from cancer as being
merciful and shows no signs of being sad.
Disruption in consciousness, memory, identity,
or perception of the environment that results in
unpleasant aspects of oneself.
Justifying illogical, unreasonable ideas,
actions, or feelings by developing acceptable
explanations. Example: “I cheated but
everyone cheats so it’s ok”.
impulses to another. Example: a partner who
is jealous of her significant other accuses the
partner of being jealous.
An unconscious defense mechanism in which
unacceptable ideas, impulses, and memories
are kept out of consciousness.
Example: a woman cannot remember a sexual
The unconscious transformation of anxiety
into a physical symptom with no organic
cause. Example: Blindness after witnessing a
The transformation of unacceptable impulses
or drives (e.g., aggressiveness, anger,
sexuality) into constructive or more acceptable
behavior. Example: a person who has
A conscious or voluntary inhibition of
unacceptable ideas, impulses, and memories.
Example: a child who fails an algebra class
puts that event out of his or her mind.
Actually, or symbolically attempting to cancel
out an action that was unacceptable. Example:
sprinkling salt over one’s left shoulder to
prevent bad luck after spilling salt on the table.
Emotional conflicts and stressors are dealt
with by meeting the needs of others; the
person receives gratification either vicariously
or from the response of others. Example: After
the death of a spouse, you keep busy by doing
Unconsciously incorporating wishes, values,
and attitudes of others as if they were your
own. Example: While her mother is gone, a
young girl disciplines her brother exactly as
her mother would.
Not acknowledging the significance of one’s
behavior; Allows a person to decrease
responsibility for own behavior. Example: A
person says: ” Don’t believe everything my
wife tells you, I wasn’t so drunk that I couldn’t
The replacement of a highly valued,
unacceptable, or unavailable object by a less
valuable, acceptable, or available object.
Example: A woman wants to marry a man
exactly like her father but settles for one who
looks a little bit like him.
The separation of thought or memory from the
feeling, tone or emotion associated with the
memory or event. Example: A person who was
violently raped snows no emotion related to
the event when discussing it with the nurse.
obsessive interest in or feeling about
someone or something
use logic to avoid facing emotional aspects of
Billy’s father passed away some weeks ago.
His father’s funeral is approaching, but Billy
has trouble remembering the date and
preparing himself. The two were very close.
This is a defense mechanism where a person’s
conscious experience in the EXACT
OPPOSITE of their unconscious feelings.
In the example case, the minister’s
unconscious attraction to men is experienced
as a prejudice against gays. Michael’s best
friend Todd recently picked up a brand-new
Suzuki motorcycle. Todd has been receiving a
lot of attention from his classmates for his new
ride. Michael glowers longingly at the
motorbike but claims that he is not envious and
is commonly heard to say “Whatever.
Motorcycles are overrated anyway.”
Lila yells and screams at her silent boyfriend,
accusing him of always being confrontational,
illogical, and unwilling to compromise with her.
Jonathan gets into an argument with his close
friend Max. Angered and hurt, he goes home
and shoves his fist through a wall after
upending his own desk.
Suzie is 7 years old. Her mom begins
distancing herself from Suzie, and resorts to
constant drinking after being laid off work,
neglecting her only daughter. Suzie begins to
physically hit her friends, throw her toys
haphazardly around the house, and cry
Rosanna has a disagreement with her
supervisor at work. Incensed, she goes to the
gym and spends 90 minutes on the treadmill
at a steep incline before engaging in her other
exercises. She feels great afterward.
Monica and her boyfriend mutually end their 4
year-long relationship. For the next few weeks,
Monica attempts to learn two new instruments
and begin playing tennis. Meanwhile, she
forgets to eat regularly and has unknowingly
been distancing herself from her friends.
A highly pious individual responds to
unconscious wishes to engage in immoral
Maria is unconsciously angry with Zachary, but
believes that he is angry with her.
A male client quarrels with his wife, then
shouts at the female therapist when she enters
Research indicates that children who have
been left at orphanages are more aggressive
and prone to lashing out than children raised
in caring, supportive homes.
Tim’s aggressive impulses to hit people are
instead channeled into a game of handball.
manifested by childlike patterns of behavior
– associated with dependent personality
(Ex: a 55-year-old male after cardiac bypass
surgery demands only to eat pizza and hot
a urologist receives a diagnosis of metastatic
prostate cancer and discusses the intricacies
of the various treatment options with his
colleagues and family
a depressed teenager stealing a computer
a student who fails Step 1 states it is not really
an important part of medical school
married man who is sexually aroused by
young female strangers goes home and buys
his wife flowers
nonperformance or poor performance after
setting up the expectation of performance
– Procrastinates and is inefficient; outwardly
agreeable and compliant but inwardly angry
(Ex: Two weeks after a 50-year-old,
overweight, hypertensive woman agreed to
start an exercise program, she gained 4
pounds. She reports that she has not
exercised yet because “the gym was too
an unacceptable drive is rerouted in a socially
(Ex: an individual’s preference for physicality is
redirected into trying out for the football team).
expression of a humorous feeling regarding an
anxiety-provoking situation without causing
(Ex: an Iraqi vet with an amputation of his arm
jokes about being a hand surgeon)
a defense mechanism in which the patient
unconsciously transfers thoughts and feelings
about a parent or significant other person onto