How Healthy Are Your Defense Mechanisms?

Mature Defenses

  • Sublimation: When you’re feeling anxious, you do something constructive such as cooking or woodworking.
  • Suppression: If you’re bothered by something or someone, you keep the lid on your feelings if letting them show would interfere with your goals.
  • Anticipation: When you know you’ll be faced with a challenging situation, you try to plan ahead so you won’t be overwhelmed.
  • Altruism: You derive true pleasure from helping other people—and if you couldn’t, you’d get depressed.
  • Humor: You try to see the funny side of situations, even when they’re stressful or potentially upsetting.

Intermediate Defenses

  • Displacement: Instead of showing you’re angry at a person who can get you into trouble, you shift your annoyance to something or someone less threatening.
  • Repression: You are sometimes unable to remember unpleasant experiences that you’ve had in the past.
  • Reaction formation: Rather than showing how you really feel toward someone, you show the opposite behavior.

Immature Defenses:

  • Projection: You feel that people tend to be mean or negative to you.
  • Passive aggression: When someone bothers you, such as your spouse, you deliberately do something such as shrink their favorite shirt in the wash.
  • Acting out: When you’re annoyed, you go out and do something impulsive such as going on a shopping spree.
  • Denial: You constantly are told by people that you just can’t see the reality of bad situations.

Using this scale, you can judge not only your own defense mechanisms but those of the people you know. I would not recommend using this scale to confront people who, in your mind are immature, but to gain greater insight into what makes them tick. (If you wish to see the entire scale(link is external), you can find it here(link is external).)


Source: Psychologytoday


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