(4) He may or may not know why he behaves as he does at all times
(usually he knows why).
(5) His motivations are purposeful. He does not wander aimlessly through
life but is in control of himself and his environment. Major plans may include renting an
apartment and then buying a house in the future. More immediate plans may be to go
to a movie this weekend with friends for entertainment and relaxation.
a. Definition. Defense mechanisms are mental maneuvers, conscious or
subconscious, performed by the ego (one's self) in order to decrease feelings of anxiety
or stress. We live in a complicated world full of many pleasurable events but also full of
strains and hassles. Life strains include chronic conditions of living that are
unsatisfactory such as boredom, continuing family tension, job dissatisfaction, and
loneliness. Hassles include irritating, frustrating, or distressing incidents that occur in
everyday life such as disagreements with fellow workers, unpleasant surprises such as
traffic tickets, and losing a wallet with all your credit cards. Defense mechanisms are
man's way of dealing with the stress--good or bad--of living.
b. Specific Defense Mechanisms.
(1) Denial of reality. This is the simplest and most basic of all defense
mechanisms. It is the attempt to blank out any disagreeable reality by ignoring it or
refusing to acknowledge it. Example: A smoker concludes that the evidence linking
cigarette use to health problems is not scientifically accurate.
(2) Repression. In this defense mechanism, the individual uses "selected
forgetting." Threatening or painful thoughts and desires are excluded from his
consciousness. Example: A subordinate "forgets" to tell his supervisor the
circumstances of an embarrassing situation.
(3) Rationalization. An individual justifies his inconsistent or undesirable
behavior by thinking up "explanations" which on the surface seem logical but, when
examined, are illogical. Example: An account executive pads his expense account
because "everybody does it."
(4) Fantasy. Daydreaming or other forms of imaginative activity allow an
escape from the real world. Example: An employee dreams of the day in the staff
meeting when he corrects his boss's mistakes and is publicly acknowledged as the real
leader of the unit. Or, a student does poorly on a test and blames the instructor rather
than his lack of studying.