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Defense Mechanism: Regression,Projection

   Defense Mechanism:

  •  Regression, Projection and Reaction Formation


  • Regression 

In regression, there is a movement from mature behavior to immature behavior. That is, when the ego is threatened, the person may revert to an earlier, more infantile form of behavior as a means of coping with the stress. For example, a 6-year-old boy might
start sucking his thumb or cling to his mother on the first day of school. Or a woman who learns that she has not been promoted to a higher paying job in the company may storm into her supervisor’s office and have a temper tantrum. Or a man who is having marital difficulties may leave the home he shares with his wife and moves back into his parents’house.


  • Projection

Projection When a person protects the ego by attributing his or her own undesirable characteristics to others, we might infer that projection has taken place (Freud, 1938c, p. 854). For example, a girl who hates her mother may be convinced that her mother hates her. A student who cheats on examinations may continually assert that other students received high grades because they cheated. Cramer (2002, p. 114) found that young adult males (but not females) who chronically used projection as a defense were distrustful, aloof, and antagonistic toward others.

  • Reaction formation

Reaction formation The conversion of an undesirable impulse into its opposite is known as reaction formation. Freud considered it a lower form of sublimation (Freud, 1938d, p. 625). A man who hates his wife and yet is exceedingly kind to her would be a pertinent example. He could be said to be killing her with kindness.

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