commonly used defense mechanisms


(1) Denial

Protecting oneself from unpleasant aspects of life by refusing to perceive, acknowledge, or face them.

(2) Rationalization

Trying to prove one’s actions “made sense” or were justified; making excuses.

(3) Intellectualization

Hiding one's feelings about something painful behind thoughts; keeping opposing attitudes apart by using logic-tight comparisons.

(4) Displacement

Misdirecting pent-up feelings towards something or someone that is less threatening than that which actually triggered the response.

(5) Projection

Blaming. Assuming that someone has a particular quality or qualities that one finds distasteful.

(6) Reaction Formation

Adopting actions and beliefs, to an exaggerated degree that are directly opposite to those previously excepted.

(7) Undoing

Trying to superficially repair or make up for an action without dealing with the complex effects of that deed, “magical thinking.”

(8) Withdrawal

Becoming emotionally uninvolved by pulling back and being passive.

(9) Introjection

Adopting someone else's values and standards without exploring whether or not they actually fit oneself; “shoulds” or “ought to’s.”

(10) Fantasy

Trying to handle problems or frustrations through daydreaming or imaginary solutions.

(11) Repression

Unconsciously blocking out painful thoughts.

(12) Identification

Trying to feel more important by associating oneself with someone or something that is highly valued.

(13) Acting Out

Repeatedly doing actions to keep from being uptight without weighing the possible results of those actions.

(14) Compensation

Hiding a weakness by stressing too strongly the desirable strength. Overindulging in one area to makeup for frustration in another.

(15) Regression

Under stress, re-adopting actions done at a less mature stage of development.