Ego defense mechanisms are methods to attempt protect the self and cope with the basic drives or emotionally painful thoughts, feelings or events. Defense mechanisms are mostly operate at the unconscious level of awareness, so people are not aware of what they are doing.

Below is a list of the ego defense mechanisms.

NameDescription
CompensationOver-achievement in one area to offset real or perceived deficiencies in another area
ConversionExpression of an emotional conflict through the development of a physical symptom, usually sensorimotor in nature
DenialFailure to acknowledge an unbearable condition; failure to admit the reality of a situation or how one enables the problem to continue
DisplacementVentilation of intense feelings toward persons less threatening than the one who aroused those feelings
DissociationDealing with emotional conflict by a temporary alteration in consciousness or identity
FixationImmobilization of a portion of the personality resulting from unsuccessful completion of tasks in a developmental stage
IdentificationModeling actions and opinions of influential others while searching for identity, or aspiring to reach a personal, social, or occupational goal
IntellectualizationSeparation of the emotions of a painful event or situation from the facts involved; acknowledging the facts but not the emotions
IntrojectionAccepting another person’s attitudes, beliefs, and values as one’s own
ProjectionUnconscious blaming of unacceptable inclinations or thoughts on an external object
RationalizationExcusing own behavior to avoid guilt, responsibility, conflict, anxiety, or loss of self-respect
Reaction FormationActing the opposite of what one thinks or feels
RegressionMoving back to a previous developmental stage to feel safe or have needs met
RepressionExcluding emotionally painful or anxiety-provoking thoughts and feelings from conscious awareness
ResistanceOvert or covert antagonism toward remembering or processing anxiety-producing information
SubmlimationSubstituting a socially acceptable activity for an impulse that is unacceptable
SubstitutionReplacing the desired gratification with one that is more readily available
SuppressionConscious exclusion of unacceptable thoughts and feelings from conscious awareness
UndoingExhibiting acceptable behavior to make up for or negate unacceptable behavior

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