Defense Mechanisms

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The book describes 9 types of defense mechanisms and as I was browsing through websites about defense mechanisms I found one that elaborated on a little over 40 of them, including the 9 used in the text. One defense mechanism that I found particularly interesting, and relatively common, was the defense mechanism of humor. This entails individuals dealing with their emotional conflict or external stressor by accentuating the amusing or ironic aspects of said conflict or stressor; essentially making it into a joke, to make it easier for them to cope with. One example that came to my mind right away was from a favorite movie growing up, Now and Then. It is the story of four girls that were best friends and promised that whenever one of them needed each other they would all come back together. They're eventually reunited when one of them is about to have a baby, but the movie basically portrays their childhood. One them, Roberta, lost her mom in a car accident when she was a little kid but has never really dealt with it. She always creates scenarios in which death is a key factor, such as jumping off her roof faking a broken neck, or as in this clip from the movie diving into a shallow lake faking once again, a broken neck.

(Disregard the last two minutes of the clip, it has nothing to do with the connection I'm trying to make here!) The narrator of the movie is in fact one of the girls and after the incident states that "She kept trying to make death funny, maybe to make it easier for herself." I'm sure the other three girls were unaware of anything called a defense mechanism but this is a pretty accurate portrayal of the humor mechanism. This is also a good example of how it is used in real life situations and is a case in which I would recommend this to a psychology student to demonstrate it.
humor defense mechanism.gif

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