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Sigmund Freud in 1984 came to the conclusion that the human psyche reacts to circumstances that are unpleasant for it using defense mechanisms. I want to note here that they are not conscious. A person activates them without realizing it, and by and large they all act as self-deception. Their main function is the protection of the individual from those events and situational processes that can injure them.

Classification of species:


In this version of protection, the person denies what is happening to them. For example, the death of a loved one. The thought of recognizing reality is unbearable. A similar reaction may occur if a person has been diagnosed with a serious illness. In general, we can observe this mechanism in childhood. When a child commits some kind of prank or breaks something. Then their mother asks “Who did this?”, they honestly look into her eyes and don’t admit that it was his doing.

Crowding out

This mechanism literally displaces the problem directly from the sphere of consciousness into the zone of the unconscious; while not completely removing it from the human psyche. It continues to influence personal behavior, most often manifesting itself in the form of fear and anxiety. But due to this mechanism, emotional tension can reduce itself. Where else can repression be manifested? For example, in reservations, jokes. This is when the true “I” makes itself felt.


This mechanism is considered one of the leading and dominant by many psychological schools. What’s it like?. This is the process of appropriating someone else’s environment or someone else’s “I”. We can say that it is “swallowing” social attitudes without drawing up our own critical view of them, without “chewing”. So, for example, the head of the company doesn’t need to ask his subordinates how his employees treat him. It is enough just to see who is trying to imitate him in the manner of communication, in clothes, in gait, in style, etc. So the leader will understand to whom his world is so important that he begins to partially appropriate it for himself.


In contrast to the previous mechanism, the essence of this boils down to the fact that a person “ascribes” their own feelings, sensations, thoughts, and, in general, experience to other people. An illustrative example: a person wakes up in the morning without a mood and thinks, “I feel sad”. And then comes to work and asks colleagues why they are so sad today. That is, he transfers his own sadness to other people.

Projection is at the heart of a wide range of human feelings. For example, the feeling of hostility to another is based precisely on projection: a person doesn’t accept in other people what he cannot accept in himself, that is, to give his “I” the right to do so. At the same time, he will be sure that he himself does not possess these qualities that cause his irritation and hostility, but the other person – yes, he has them, and therefore he is unpleasant. That is why, when you are faced with the fact that you find flaws in another person, ask yourself for verification the following question: “Have I now met through this person with my own flaws?”

And, for example, in Gestalt psychology, projection is considered one of the basic mechanisms: according to F. Perls, the founder of this trend, it is in the projection that the basis for the formation of neurotic disorders is.


This defense mechanism by which a person separates from themselves, literally splits off what is traumatic for them. And it turns out that a person accepts one part of their personality, and the other doesn’t. We are talking about the so-called “neurotic splitting of the personality”, which differs from psychotic since such a process does not occur at the deep level of the disorder (as is the case with schizophrenia). Most often, this mechanism begins to be selected already in childhood by a child, if it is difficult for them to meet with what seems unbearable.


You can describe this defense mechanism with a very simple phrase – “childhood care”. People using this mechanism choose a much simpler level of functioning as their mental adaptation. Most often, it is preferred by individuals of the hysterical type, and infantilism is a distinctive feature of this mechanism. As such, the essence of regression is as follows: the desire to simplify the world as much as possible and make it as clear as possible, while relinquishing responsibility for one’s own life becomes an important marker.


One of the most inhumane defense mechanisms, since a person chooses to preserve his own “I” at the expense of causing suffering to the world. Not realizing their own worth, a person tries to belittle the world in order to maintain self-respect and does this until the world is below themselves. Devaluation can hide under a veil of irony towards others. That is why it is worth understanding that any ironic person is a person who values ​​themselves quite low. By devaluing others, a person tries to maintain their own dignity.


The mechanism by which a person makes the transfer of aggression in a format that is safe for himself. For example, at work, the boss indicated nagging about writing a report, but the person chooses not to show him his anger (there is a fear of a conflict situation or fear of losing his job), and then he comes home and “breaks down” in the household. And it is precisely this transferred aggression, according to many psychologists, that is the cause of psychosomatic diseases since the aggression is transferred not somewhere, but to the carrier – his own body. Most often, introverts choose this mechanism.

Reactive education

This defense mechanism is the transformation of negative feelings into positive ones and vice versa. A person’s feelings are mostly ambivalent, but a person is aware of only one pole at a time. So this mechanism is a method of a person’s struggle with the pole, which is unacceptable for her. 

Example: A person hugs another person, but at the same time does it so tightly, as if in reality he wants to hurt him. Another example: there are two children in a family, but the youngest, according to the older child, gets more love, it is as if he takes it away from the older one, and then aggression arises from him – an absolutely natural reaction in this situation. But if the child forbids himself this aggression, then he transforms it into too active care and love. Most often this happens when parents tell their children that it is bad to be angry. This forms the idea that the manifestation of aggression is dangerous and punishable.


A defense mechanism in which one’s own actions seem logical and controlled, and do not contradict objective circumstances. In other words, it is a rational explanation for personality behavior. Remember Krylov’s famous fable “Fox and Grapes”? So in her Fox, this mechanism is clearly visible, when, having not received the desired grapes, she rationalizes the unsatisfied need with the words that it is “green”. And the protection of the psyche is manifested in the fact that the logically declared motive of activity is not at all true.

Thus, defense mechanisms are a mental process focused on minimizing negative experiences.


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