Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

Defense Mechanisms

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_70

Introduction

While the idea of defensive behavior, as in “defensive-aggressive,” stems from animal and comparative psychology, the term “defense mechanism” was coined by Sigmund Freud. Defenses are set in motion by anxiety. Depending on theoretical emphasis, they are regarded more as a sign of neurotic or psychotic anxiety and/or playing a part in normal development. The idea of defense mechanism reflects the conflictual, part-hidden, non-unitary, and dynamic basis of subjectivity that is the hallmark of all versions of psychoanalysis, emphases which make it a vital conceptual resource for critical psychology.

Definition

Sigmund Freud defined “defense mechanism” as “a general designation for all the techniques which the ego makes use of in conflicts which may lead to neurosis” (Freud, 1926[1925], p. 153). Anna Freud (1937) listed nine defenses, some of which have fallen out of use: regression, repression, reaction-formation, isolation, undoing, projection, introjection, turning...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access

References

  1. Bion, W.R. (1959) Attacks on linking, Int. J. Psycho-Analysis 40: 308-15; republished in (1967) Second Thoughts, pp110-119.Google Scholar
  2. Clarke, S., & Hoggett, P. (Eds.). (2009). Researching beneath the surface. London: Karnac.Google Scholar
  3. Freud, A. (1937). The ego and the mechanisms of defence. London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
  4. Freud, S. (1926[1925]). Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety. Standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. Volume XX. London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
  5. Frosh, S., & Baraitser, L. (2008). Psychoanalysis and psychosocial studies. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 13(4), 346–365.Google Scholar
  6. Hinshelwood, R. D. (1991). A dictionary of kleinian thought. London: Free Association Books.Google Scholar
  7. Hinshelwood, R. D., & Skogstad, W. (Eds.). (2000). Observing organisations: Anxiety, defence and culture in health care. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Hoggett, P. (2010a). Perverse social structures. Journal of Psycho-social Studies, 4(1). www.uwe.ac.uk/hlss/research/cpss/Journal_Psycho-Social_Studies/v4-1/Paul%20Hoggett%20Perverse%20Social%20Structures.pdf. Accessed 27 June 2012.
  9. Hoggett, P. (2010b). Government and the perverse social defence. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 26(2), 202–212.Google Scholar
  10. Hollway, W., & Jefferson, T. (2013). Doing qualitative research differently: Free association, narrative and the interview method (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  11. Jaques, E. (1953). On the dynamics of social structure. Human Relations, 6, 10–23.Google Scholar
  12. Klein, M. (1946) Notes on some schizoid mechanisms, Envy and Gratitude and other works 1946-1963, pp. 1–24. London: Virago.Google Scholar
  13. Menzies Lyth, I. (1960). Social systems as a defence against anxiety. Human Relations, 13, 95–121.Google Scholar
  14. Trist, E. L (1950/1990). Culture as a psychosocial process. In E. L. Trist & H. Murray (Eds.), The social engagement of science. London: Free Assocation Books, pp. 1–34.Google Scholar
  15. Urwin, C. (2007). Doing infant observation differently? Researching the formation of mothering identities in an inner London borough. International Journal of Infant Observation and Its Applications, 10, 239–252.Google Scholar

Online Resources

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK