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Every individual will have certain aims or goals in his life to lead a comfortable and productive life. Every individual aims in attaining this goals and gratify his needs in a variety of ways. Changes in life occur on every moment, one has to accommodate and adjust themselves for all those changes or stimuli inorder to have a peaceful life.

But in certain life situations ,these stimuli or factors will interfere with the smooth functioning of the individual ,resulting into severe frustrations and emotional conflicts. These will threaten the individuals psychological balance.But the individual is equipped with certain mental capacities to safeguard himself against psychological dangers.


Sigmund Freud, The father of modern Psychiatry coined the term defence mechanisms. He described defence mechanisms as unconscious process that defends a person against anxiety. They protects individual against external threats or against internal anxiety arousing impulses.

Freud explains human mind consist of three parts. id (working on pleasure principle) seeking immediate satisfaction regardless societys rights or feeling of others. 'Ego(working on reality principle) is responsible for organizing ways to get what a a person wants in the real world and Super ego (working on morality principle),tells us what we should and should not do.

Ego is trying to maintain balance between Id and Super ego, by fulfilling its intermediary task by protecting Id from the dangers of the external world. Ego make use of varied methodology to fulfills its task by avoiding danger, anxiety, unpleasant situations, hence the defence mechanisms are also called as ego defence mechanisms or Mental mechanisms or coping mechanisms

1. Any method used by a person to

give relief from stress and anxiety or to improve ones self image (Ann J ZWEMER,2000) 2. Defence mechanisms are defined as certain patterns of behavior that are employed for protection against threat or anxiety (ARKOFF)


They are automatic. They soften ones failure. Reduces anxiety, fear, tension, frustration, and depression. Interfere with real achievement. Promotes individuals functioning and development Increases self satisfaction

It maintains balance and moulds the personality of the individual. To find justification in realistic ways for problem solvation It teaches new modes of adjustment It helps in selective forgetting and makes oneself happy

1.Denial of reality. 2.Regression. 3.Displacement. 4.Projection. 5.Rationalization. 6.Repression. 7.Compensation. 8.Fantasy/day dreaming.


9. Sublimation. 10.Undoing. 11.Identification. 12.Acting out. 13.Intellectualization. 14.Reaction formation.

It is arguing against an anxiety provoking stimuli by stating that it does not exist.
Eg-1. Denying that your doctors diagnosis of cancer is not correct and seeking a second opinion. Eg- 2. When we fall down in front of others, even if we hurt, we say that I am not hurt. Eg-3. Certain individuals do not accept the death of beloved ones

It is the returning of a person to his previous stage of development. Ex 1: Sitting in a corner and crying after hearing bad news Ex2: Some elder children in order to get attention from parents, act childishly


It is the discharging of emotional reactions from one object to another which is safe Ex 1; Mother scolding her child after an argument with father Ex 2: Slamming a door instead of expressing ones feeling Ex 3: Being angry with others after teacher scolded the student for his fault

It is the placing unacceptable impulses in yourself on to someone else Eg -1 : A singer who fails to win a contest say that the audio system was not good Eg 2: Students blaming teachers for their poor performance Eg 3: A student is coping during the exam hold by the examinar, satisfies himself by pointing out at others,who are also doing the same mistake

It is justifying ones failure by a logical or rational reason as opposed to the real reason.
Ex 1: Student stating that out of syllabus questions were asked in the examination, when the real reason was lack of hard work Ex 2:A student who did not get seat for medical course would justify her inability saying, It is not worth studying medicine paying such a heavy fees.

It is referred as selective forgetting. It is the most useful defence mechanism is for helping the individual to control desires and minimizing the threat by preventing unpleasant thoughts from becoming conscious. Repression acts to keep information out of conscious awareness. However, these memories dont just disappear, they continue to influence our behavior.

Ex-1: A person who has repressed memories of abuse suffered as a child may later have difficulty forming relationships. Ex-2: Forgetting painful events from your childhood due to the trauma and anxiety.

It is making attempts to cover-up or balance failure by achieving in a more comfortable area. Eg-1: student who is not good in academics would excel in sports. Eg-2:During depression some people will eat too much to overcome it.


When a person already knows that he cannot fulfill his wishes, the persons travels in a world of pleasant ideas and thoughts that he had achieved his target. In fantasy we can achieve our goals and gratify our needs without any block. Ex-1: A student might day dream about securing a first rank.

Sublimation is a defence mechanism, that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. Eg-1: A person experiencing extreme anger might take up kick boxing as a means of venting frustration. Eg-2: An unmarried women can fulfill her maternal urge by working in child care centres

It is making disapproved task ineffective by asking excuses Eg-1: Reporting for our mistakes. Eg-2:A student who comes late to the class asks excuses to the teacher to avoid punishment

Imitating or identifying oneself with someone who is respected. Eg-1: People identify themselves with politicians or celebrities. Eg-2: A child considering teacher as his role model


This is a reaction that reduces tension and anxiety by actually permitting the expression. Ex-1: A person who is angry may hit the person causing the anxiety. Ex-2: Going on strike.

It is keeping distance from unacceptable impulses and thinks in a more logical way. Ex-1: A singer who fails to win a contest says that he was not well prepared. Ex-2:A person who has just been diagnosed with a serious illness might focus on learning everything about the disease in order to avoid distress and remain distant from the reality of the situation.

It is a method in which taking the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety. Ex-1: Treating someone you strongly dislike in an excessively friendly manner in order to hide your true feelings.


The knowledge of defence mechanism helps the nurse to understand clients behaviour The nurse must act as counsellors and advisers and to guide them to solve their problems She will be able to assist the person in modifying his maladaptive behaviour

She is able to help the client and family members to lead a satisfactory and productive life. It promotes mental health of individuals, family and community

In short we can say that defence mechanism is important for an individual in maintaining stress and anxiety which is occuring in day to day life. It is important for a nurse to know about the different types of defence mechanisms because she is dealing with different types of people in every day.

1.K P Neeraja.Essentials of mental Health and psychiatric Nursing .Jaypee Brothers publishers ltd.Volume 1.PP-18 -22 2.Bernstein.Roy.Wickens.Psychology.Housghton Miffin Company Newyork publications.Fourth edition.PP-321-326 3.Ann.J.Zwemer.Basic Psychology.B.I.Publications.First Edition 1990. PP-149-151.