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defense mechanism,in psychoanalysis, any of a variety of unconscious personality reactions which the ego uses to protect the conscious mind from threatening feelings and perceptions. Sigmund FreudFreud, Sigmund
, 1856–1939, Austrian psychiatrist, founder of psychoanalysis. Born in Moravia, he lived most of his life in Vienna, receiving his medical degree from the Univ. of Vienna in 1881.
His medical career began with an apprenticeship (1885–86) under J.
..... Click the link for more information. first used defense as a psychoanalytic term (1894), but he did not break the notion into categories, viewing it as a singular phenomenon of repression. His daughter, Anna FreudFreud, Anna
, 1895–1982, British psychoanalyst, b. Vienna, Austria. Continuing the work of her father, Sigmund Freud, she was a pioneer in the psychoanalysis of children.
..... Click the link for more information. , expanded on his theories in the 1930s, distinguishing some of the major defense mechanisms recognized today. Primary defense mechanisms include repression and denialdenial,
in psychology, an ego defense mechanism that operates unconsciously to resolve emotional conflict, and to allay anxiety by refusing to perceive the more unpleasant aspects of external reality.
..... Click the link for more information. , which serve to prevent unacceptable ideas or impulses from entering the conscience. Secondary defense mechanisms—generally appearing as an outgrowth of the primary defense mechanisms—include projection, reaction formation, displacement, sublimation, and isolation.
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defense mechanism[di′fens ‚mek·ə‚niz·əm]
Any psychic device, such as rationalization, denial, or repression, for concealing unacceptable feelings or for protecting oneself against unpleasant feelings, memories, or experiences.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.