(5) Projection. A person protects himself from the awareness of his own
undesirable traits or unacceptable feelings by charging these traits or feelings are
characteristic of someone else. Example: An expansionist- minded dictator of a
totalitarian country (absolute control by this dictator) believes neighboring countries are
planning to invade his country.
(6) Overcompensation. A person covers up a weakness by
overemphasizing some desirable characteristic or making up for frustration in one area
by overgratification in another area. Example: A dangerously overweight person goes
on eating binges when something disappoints him or makes him unhappy. He gets a
"Dear John" letter; he eats. The weather is bad, and he can't go to the coast; he eats.
(7) Conversion. An individual has emotional conflicts which are expressed
in muscular, sensory, or bodily symptoms of disability, malfunctioning, or pain.
Example: An individual puts in many hours of hard work on a project. The boss rejects
the project, and the individual develops a major headache which forces him to leave
work and go home.
(8) Identification. A person tries to raise his own self-esteem by patterning
his behavior after the behavior of another person, often his boss. The person may
accept his boss's values and beliefs and even vicariously share his boss's victories and
defeats. Example: The "assistant" takes on the vocabulary, mannerisms, or even
pomposity of his boss.
(9) Regression. A person returns to reaction patterns he has long since
outgrown. Example: A manager, blocked from some highly visible project, busies
himself with clerical duties or technical detail, work which someone he supervises
(10) Emotional insulation. Characteristics of this defense mechanism include
resignation, apathy, and boredom. The individual breaks emotional involvement with
the environment; he draws back from any emotional or personal involvement. Example:
An employee, receiving no reward, praise, or encouragement, no longer cares whether
or not he does a good job.
(11) Reaction formation. The individual suppresses his real thoughts and
attitudes (the ones which are unacceptable in his group) and vigorously supports the
opposite attitudes (ones which are acceptable in his group). Example: An employee
who has not been promoted overdoes the defense of his boss, vigorously upholding the
(12) Displacement. An individual can't direct impulses at the appropriate
target; therefore, he directs his impulses at a substitute target. Example: A person has
many frustrations at work and really feels angry with his co-workers. He is in no
position to tell them how furious he is, so he comes home and launches a verbal tirade
at his wife and children.