Friday, May 13, 2011

Defense Mechanisms Part 7:

Well it looks like Blogger deleted my Thursday post so I will use it for Today. Sorry for the repeat. Hope everyone had a great day yesterday!

We will be looking at the last of the neurotic Defense Mechanisms.

Reaction Formation is when we take the opposite belief of what we really believe because what we really believe causes anxiety, converting unconscious desires and wishes to their opposites because of the perceived danger. An example would be a person who is ultra-religious because they fear that going against the religious belief will bring them sadness. Think of the very pious.

Regression is when we revert to a childlike state to deal with a stressful situation. This is generally temporary.

Repression is widely debated on how true this is. It is when a person forgets or represses a situation; the emotions are still there though. Remember the hypnotherapy of bringing back repressed memories of childhood abuse many of which turned out to be false. I think a lot of the doubt comes from these earlier days. My personal feeling is that we may forget certain things but I think that with active concentration then we would be able to remember them.

Undoing is when a person tries to ‘undo’ a destructive or negative thought by doing the opposite. An example is when we are talking negatively about a person and then try to undo it by pointing out all the good things about them. Or if we think about killing someone then we will undo it by looking at their good points and how we can be nice to them.

Withdrawal is when a person withdraws from situations or stimuli that cause negative feelings or thoughts. This can mean that the person no longer leaves the house or will not make left hand turns or …

So what was your favorite neurotic defense mechanism and how would you use it? How would you help your character overcome the defense mechanism?


  1. A good example of the undoing mechanism is the character John Cleaver from the book "I am Not a Serial Killer." John sets certain rules for himself which involve complimenting someone when they make him made These are trying to keep him from his destructive behavior.

    My favorite neurotic defense mechanisms to work with in my own work is rationalization. These kind of characters often make great villains because they believe they are acting on the good of all. Sometimes they can be shown the error of their ways but other times it doesn't work that way.

  2. Wow, I see a lot of the reaction mechanism in myself. I find myself reacting before thinking and often I agree with what the person was saying in the first place...interesting...

  3. I've come across references to repression before, and wondered if those memories actually disappeared completely, the person just didn't want to think about them, or if they could be recalled.

  4. I love technology, especially the sounds it makes. I could almost hear the anguished cries of everyone when they realized Blogger was having issues. What a grand world we live in.

    As for your post, my favorite is using rationalization for villains. The scariest villain is the one who thinks they're the hero. How do you convince them they're wrong? Some you just can't and then you're in a pickle.

  5. ok lets see if i can remember my commment...smiles....

    i see regression fairly often in people that suffered a traumatic event in their past, or abuse....and when things get stressful they go back to that place...

  6. These are great insights, very handy for some upcoming characters I'm forming. As for me, I can't regress, never left the child-like state, but I do repress - all the things that were on my to-do list. They magically disappear leaving only the emotion of something undone.

    Love your posts Josh and glad Blogger is letting me comment again :)

  7. These are interesting defense mechanisms- Regression keeps coming to mind- I think this one would be a good one to use in a story, especially to have the child like action come up a few times before explaining, I think it could catch the readers attention well if done right! :)

  8. Funny about the left-hand turns, because my family had an elderly neighbor when I was growing up who wouldn't make left-hand turns. My mother rode with her once, and I guess it was literally a trip and a half to get anywhere. She also wouldn't ride escalators. She'd be the basis for a great character. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Yes, blogger has been very temperamental lately. I think that maybe repression is something that one of my characters can relate to because where I work, I have seen so many people experience this or try to repress memories because the truth is better forgotten.

  10. I often think of how people will hate something in someone else only because that is what they secretly hate or fear about themselves. Not sure what that is called or if it relates to this, but I think of that often in real life. Would be good to then figure out how to incorporate it with characters.


Show your support and keep my spirits hi (truly this all about me) by commenting and letting me know how fantastic, amazing, wonderful and terrific the posts are. Oh yeah and have fun with your comments, add to the story and above all comment!!