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Freud described defense mechanisms in his psychoanalytic theory.

Defense mechanisms are the ego’s protective


methods of reducing anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality. These tactics reduce or redirect anxiety in various ways,
but always by distorting reality. The six examples are repression, regression, reaction formation, projection, and
rationalization, and displacement.
Repression banishes anxiety – arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness. According to
Freud, repression underlies all the other defense mechanisms; it disguises threatening impulses and keeps them from
reaching consciousness. Repression explains why we don’t remember our childhood lust four our parent of the other sex.
However, repression is often incomplete.
Regression is the defense mechanism in which an individual faced with anxiety retreats to more infantile
psychosexual stage, where some psychic energy remains fixated. Thus when facing the anxious first days of school, a
child may regress to oral comfort of thumb sucking.
Reaction formation is a defense mechanism by which the ego unconsciously switches unacceptable impulses into
their opposites. Thus, people may express feelings that are the opposite of their anxiety-arousing unconscious feelings.
En route to consciousness, timidity becomes daring.
Projection is a defense mechanism by which people disguise their own threatening impulses by attributing them to
others. Thus, “He doesn’t trust me” may actually be a projection of the actual feeling “I don’t trust him,” or “I don’t trust
myself.”
Rationalization occurs when we unconsciously generate self – justifying explanations in place of the real, more
threatening, unconscious reasons for one’s actions. Thus, habitual drinkers may say they drink with their friends “just to be
sociable.” Students who fail to study may rationalize, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull person.”
Displacement is a mechanism that shifts sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less
threatening object or person, as when redirecting anger toward a safer outlet. Children who fear expressing anger against
their parents may displace it by kicking the family pet.
All our defense mechanisms function indirectly and unconsciously reducing anxiety by disguising our threatening
impulses. So with repression, we could repress memories of when we were stereotyped because of our body image,
through regression women can retreat to using make up to cover up their imperfections. With reaction formation, our egos
might cover the idea of imperfections on our body leading to a more positive self image. Projection will disguise the idea of
poor body image by projecting the reasons elsewhere. For instance, one could think that others are jealous of them and
disregard criticism towards their body. Rationalization may disguise the habit of unhealthy eating and weight gain. For
instance, a student could say “ I would work out but I don’t have enough time.” Displacement will divert the feelings of one
person to another place. So a student who may have a poor body image can displace those feelings to more motivation
towards exercise, hence enhancing both the body image but also distracting the student for focusing too much on it.