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Examples of Defense Mechanisms (Nursing)

by Brenda Marshall, EdD, MSN, RN

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    00:01 Compensation.

    00:03 Compensation is an ego defense mechanism.

    00:06 Compensation is when we hide a weakness by developing a separate skill to focus on.

    00:12 So, say I am not very good at riding a bike.

    00:17 And I don't want people to know that I'm not good at riding a bike.

    00:21 So I might go out and become the best motorcyclist.

    00:28 And people will say, "Come on Brenda, let's go ride a bike." And I say "no, no, I'd rather use my motorcycle." I'm compensating for the fact that I can't ride the bike by becoming really good at something else.

    00:40 Maybe I can't spell, and so I become really good at math.

    00:45 It's hiding a weakness by developing a separate skill to focus on.

    00:51 A lot of our patients in mental health, use the ego defense mechanism of denial.

    00:58 They just don't want to accept that situation is real.

    01:03 So you may have a client or a patient who is drinking five or six beers every single day.

    01:11 And when you are interviewing them, and you say, "Well, five or six beers, do you feel that that's a lot?" they'll say, "Well, it's nothing that's that's nothing, everyone drinks that" "I don't have a drinking problem, do you understand?" "I don't have a drinking problem." They that the situation is real.

    01:30 Denial occurs in the face of overwhelming proof, they will still deny that, that situation that you are presenting is real.

    01:42 Displacement is when a person starts taking their anxiety and discomfort out on a person that is not even the cause of the feelings.

    01:53 So for example, a person is at work, and they get yelled at by their boss.

    01:59 And when they get out of work, they go in to buy some milk in the store and the person who's selling them the milk says to them, "Do you want paper or plastic?" and they start yelling at that person.

    02:12 They have displaced their feelings of anger, and their desire to yell at their boss, they take that out on the next person, even though that person is not the cause of their feelings.

    02:26 When you're thinking about this as being ego defense mechanisms, can you see how this can protect a person, the person who wants to yell at their boss could lose their job, they can't take it out on that person.

    02:41 And so they defend their, themselves, by getting through it, but then displacing those feelings on someone else.

    02:52 Another ego defense mechanism is projection.

    02:56 And that is when you might see your own unacceptable thoughts or feelings and you project them onto someone else.

    03:04 Where you might want to go to the beach in a very slim bathing suit that you think is really beautiful.

    03:16 But you won't do that because for some reason in your own culture that is not done.

    03:22 And then when you get to the beach, you look at someone and say that is disgraceful to see a person in a bathing suit like that.

    03:32 That is projecting those unacceptable thoughts and feelings onto someone else.

    03:40 Isolation is dehumanizing a memory and presenting it without any feeling.

    03:47 So isolation may be that you are interviewing a patient who had been in a terrible car accident.

    03:56 And when you ask them about that car accident, they say, "I drove up to the light, the light turned green.

    04:05 I went forward, another car came speeding, the car hit my car, my car spun out.

    04:12 I don't remember anything after that." You would not expect a person to give you that kind of report.

    04:21 You would expect some feeling that would come along with it.

    04:24 But their own mind is protecting them by making sure that they are removing themselves from being in their car.

    04:35 And this way they can present that memory without any feeling whatsoever.

    04:43 Rationalization is one that and we all use rationalization.

    04:49 That's finding excuses to normalize unacceptable feelings, thoughts or behaviours.

    04:55 Well, I had to eat the whole pie, because if I left it, my brother would have eaten it and my brother is diabetic.

    05:06 That's an excuse it normalizes me eating an entire pie and saying, oh, that's because I have to protect my brother.

    05:16 But that's an excuse because I could throw the pie out.

    05:19 Rationalization finding excuses, and those excuses try to normalize what is an unacceptable feeling thought or behaviour.

    05:30 Regression is another one that we often see.

    05:33 And that is when the person starts reacting to the situation from an earlier developmental stage.

    05:40 So somebody who is talking to you, and becomes very activated and suddenly, starts acting like a child.

    05:54 And you can see regression happen in front of you.

    05:58 I've worked with many patients who, as we're having a conversation, they're 55 years old, and we hit upon some situations, suddenly, I become like their mother, and, they start looking at me like a little kid, and you see it, it is a reaction that comes up from an earlier developmental stage.

    06:27 And sublimation that is moving some unacceptable urges or emotions into areas that are now acceptable.

    06:37 So let's say, I have a problem.

    06:42 Again, I'll go to eating a lot and I want to eat every single thing on the table.

    06:49 And instead, I decide that I will be arranging the food on the table and I will arrange it in such a way that I am engaged in arrangement rather than eating.

    07:04 So this way, I have sublimated my urge to gorge with a behaviour that is acceptable which is arranging the foods, sublimation.

    07:19 There's also suppression, suppression is when you block the thoughts and your memories on purpose.

    07:26 And that means that somebody says to you, do you member that car accident you say no, I have no memory whatsoever.

    07:34 And it's over, no more talking.

    07:36 I am blocking that thought.

    07:38 I am blocking that memory.

    07:40 I am doing it on purpose.

    07:44 Undoing is when we are taking actions to undo a negative experience with another.

    07:51 I often see undoing in cases where there is some abuse between perhaps two partners and in cases one partner screams and yells and storms out of a meeting, only to come back with a bunch of roses that's trying to undo the screaming and yelling by coming back with a different experience of providing the roses.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Examples of Defense Mechanisms (Nursing) by Brenda Marshall, EdD, MSN, RN is from the course Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders: GAD, Phobias, OCD, PTSD (Nursing).


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Compensation
    2. Denial
    3. Displacement
    4. Projection
    1. Displacement
    2. Projection
    3. Denial
    4. Compensation
    1. Isolation of affect
    2. Rationalization
    3. Denial
    4. Regression
    1. Rationalization
    2. Isolation of affect
    3. Displacement
    4. Compensation
    1. Sublimation
    2. Suppression
    3. Displacement
    4. Regression

    Author of lecture Examples of Defense Mechanisms (Nursing)

     Brenda Marshall, EdD, MSN, RN

    Brenda Marshall, EdD, MSN, RN


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