How to defend your anxiety

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The Freudian defense mechanisms, which are unconscious maneuvers intended to minimize anxiety, are something that we engage in; more often than we realize. Don't you agree? I have seen Denial being exhibited by my aunt when my uncle passed away in a motorcycle accident. Denial is motivated forgetting of distressing experiences. Recently, my dad engaged in rationalization when he came to know that he might be told to retire in a few years. Rationalization is nothing but providing reasonable sounding explanations for unreasonable behaviors or failures. We knew that he was clearly upset about it because my dad is a person who doesn't like to sit at home and relax. But he kept on saying that he would enjoy his life by traveling and doing other activities that he wouldn't normally do, if he was asked to retire. cartoon1.gif I engage in rationalization whenever I get lower grades and when I fail job interviews. I use displacement, which is directing an impulse from a socially unacceptable target onto a more acceptable one, when I am stressed out. The acceptable one is either eating or running on a treadmill until I sweat it all out. Projection is also another very common one, where we unconsciously attribute our negative attributes onto others; like blaming the teacher for our poor performance in class.

Apart from these, there are other defense mechanisms like Repression, motivated forgetting of an emotional memory; Regression, returning psychologically to a younger and safer time; Reaction-Formation, transforming an anxiety producing experience into its opposite; Intellectualization, avoiding anxiety by focusing on abstract and impersonal thoughts; Sublimation, transforming a socially unacceptable impulse into an acceptable one; and Identifying with the aggressor, adopting psychological characteristics of the person we find threatening.
Which of these do you use more?


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I notice these defense mechanisms all the time. The one I personally use the most is rationalization, when ever I make a dumb decision I always try to find perfectly good reasons for why I made the decisions. These make me feel like the decision I made was not so dumb after all. Another one I notice alot is projection whenever I am really upset about something I sometimes find myself getting upset at someone for basically nothing at all. It is crazy how these defense mechanisms work there way into our everyday life.

The one that I used the most is Displacement. When I stressed or not very positive, I usually go running. It is a good system, because sometimes I feel that my simple problem are huge and super important, and after going running, I get a bigger picture that shows that it is not as big as I thought.

I liked your comment, because I believe that learning our defense mechanisms is a great idea to understand ourselves and our behavior. Great blog!!

I notice myself not specifically using one defense mechanism, but demonstrating difference ones for different situations. When stressed out by academics, I tend to demonstrate displacement in the action of exercise. Nothing feels better after you find out a bad grade then jogging a few miles or the elliptical for an hour. With major life decisions I tend to migrate toward rationalization. Sometimes this stage is after denial, sometimes I jump right to it. I always try and find the good aspect of any situation, and I do this through rationalization. I usually do not use much projection, unless something has made a deep impact on me.

I tend to use intellectualization: avoiding anxiety by focusing on abstract and impersonal thoughts. My first reaction to stress is usually to check and see if I can ignore it or put it off somehow, then I will take my mind off of it by thinking about something unrelated to my life, round and round in circles. Life is messy, and often there isn't a clearly correct decision, or even a good sense of what direction to go in. In times of uncertainty, I like the feeling of being able to focus my mind on something that does have a right answer, the further removed from the messiness of life the better. Maybe it's one reason I like math.

Among the defense mechanisms, I think I use the rationalization more often than other mechanisms. Whenever I get anxiety, I usually try to provide reasonable explanations to myself for unreasonable events that I have been engaged. Personally, the rationalization is very helpful to correct the situation and, therefore, I try to keep the rationalization other than other mechanisms.

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This page contains a single entry by venka056 published on April 26, 2012 7:57 PM.

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