Immature Defenses

by Helen Farrell, MD

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    00:01 Now let's consider some of the immature defense mechanisms.

    00:05 Consider this example, a 19-year-old doesn't have enough money to buy the shoes that she really wants. So she throws them at the store clerk when her credit card is rejected.

    00:17 What defense do you think she is using? It's acting out. So we define acting out as giving in to an impulse even if socially inappropriate in order to avoid the anxiety of suppressing that impulse.

    00:34 So for example this woman throwing the shoes at the store clerk, that's very much acting out.

    00:40 Here's another example, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.

    00:45 She decides to defer her interventions, however, because she "feels just fine".

    00:52 Well, what defense is she showing? Denial. Very good. Denial is not accepting reality because it might just be too painful. And that's what we saw on this woman with a cancer who didn't want to address it. How about this question.

    01:08 An adult man is going into the hospital for surgery, he's nervous about it, and so he takes his stuffed teddy bear from childhood with him for comfort.

    01:19 What defense is this? You got it. Regression. Regression is performing behaviors from an earlier stage of development in order to avoid tension associated with current phase of development, just like this man taking his teddy bear with him.

    01:38 Consider the example of the cheating wife. A married man who's having an affair accuses his wife of cheating on him. Well, what defense is he showing? Absolutely, projection. And how would you define projection? It's attributing objectionable thoughts or emotions onto others.

    02:03 So instead of identifying that we feel these things or doing these things ourselves, we're telling others that they're doing it. Those are a few of the immature defense mechanisms.

    02:12 Now, immature defense mechanisms are really important to note, because when this is the defense that somebody goes to.

    02:21 It's usually because they have a very low threshold to tolerate their own anxieties and emotions.

    02:29 Immature defenses can often lead further mental health problems, and are often seen in both the outpatient setting but very, very frequently on in-patient psychiatric units too.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Immature Defenses by Helen Farrell, MD is from the course Personality Disorders.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Giving in to an impulse, even if it is socially inappropriate, in order to avoid the anxiety of suppressing that impulse
    2. Not accepting a reality that is too painful
    3. Performing behaviors in an earlier stage of development in order to avoid stress
    4. Attributing objectionable thoughts or emotions to others
    5. Mechanism of regulating situation and events of the external environment to relieve anxiety
    1. Projection
    2. Regression
    3. Suppression
    4. Passive aggression
    5. Displacement

    Author of lecture Immature Defenses

     Helen Farrell, MD

    Helen Farrell, MD

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