Denial- So, as we all know, in 7th grade students ought to take exams in order to get accepted in gymnasiums/colleges. In my school, the majority of my classmates wanted to be accepted in the American School of Sofia and so most of them started going on special courses a year before the actual exam. […]
Denial- So, as we all know, in 7th grade students ought to take exams in order to get accepted in gymnasiums/colleges. In my school, the majority of my classmates wanted to be accepted in the American School of Sofia and so most of them started going on special courses a year before the actual exam. I got to witness how a close friend of mine, whose biggest wish was to be accepted there, uses denial when understanding the ugly truth. As you can suggest, this friend was not accepted there, she was not even close, even though she had attempted courses a year and a half in advance. When she found out that her nightmare has turned out to be a reality, she, of course, burst in tears. But the thing I payed special attention to was that she started talking to herself and she only said “No, no, no, no, no, this can not be true, no, I refuse, no, no, no”. It was true, indeed and she had to face it. But unfortunately she asked us not to talk about it, as if such thing hadn’t happened. We did so in order for her not to suffer, but I could see and feel how she really lost a lot of physic energy while trying to maintain the denial state. It took her a lot of time to recover, though she is currently studying at the best state school in Sofia and I am happy for her.
Regression- From all of the defense mechanisms I know, Regression is my most relatable and known one. I always tend to hold on to things too much and I hardly give up the past even when I really have to. Because nostalgia is an ugly (beautiful) liar. When people turn to regression, they tend to search for the safeness, happiness, love (it depends) in particular past states of life. Here is a personal example and a case that I’ve been holding on for too long. There is this boy, whom I’ve known for 9 months now. And from the moment we met, it was more than visible that there is electricity, passion, understanding, comfort and even love between us. This is the first boy with whom I was my real self, with whom I felt absolutely and totally comfortable with, the first boy that I talked with for hours at 3am. I am not a person who shares a lot so I’m just going to stick with this information, even though there is much more to share. So, with this boy the beginning, the first 4-5 months were perfect, it was like a dream and we both made ourselves very, very happy. And those were my happiest moments, but unfortunately time changed us, things changed, feelings too. For two months now he has a girlfriend and I still can’t let go the memories. That’s what I do- I live in them, I wish I could go back then, I feel happy again only there and I try to re-live the scenes over and over again in my head- all of our walks, talks, laughs, hugs, pictures, everything. I started living in the memories rather than in what was really going on and I was in love with the person who he used to be, even though he has changed completely. But, as time went, I only started to realize that I am completely wasting my time, I am not recovering, I am not helping myself by any means and that is very bad, because I only have to upgrade. Before a week (not even kidding) I realized that reality is SO MUCH MORE and there are things that I am missing out and people I am not paying enough attention to, and emotions I am not letting myself feel, and feelings I refuse to let fill my body. So I am slowly getting rid of that useless regression and I am starting to get better. And I love it.
Acting out- In order to express our emotions we often act things out. For example, my sister is very fond of attention and always seeks it. She gets angry for little, stupid things, just because she doesn’t get all of the attention by our parents. Yesterday, my mum told me how proud she is of me and because my sister was left behind, she literally started screaming and throwing different things at us and at the walls. She got overly-angry and it was not fine. Thankfully, we managed to talk to her and make her realize what is going on. Things like this happen very often and we are still working on our relationships between sister-sister, mother-sister, and so on.
Dissociation- I am really very fascinated by this defense mechanism and I am willing to watch and analyze people’s behavior during a dissociation period (also, connected with schizophrenia). I even try to analyze my own self when I sometimes dissociate from reality. In my first school, there was a girl, who was bullied at school at a very young age, because she was “fat”. During the years, I witnessed how she talks to someone we can not see, hear, and talk to. By that time, I was small and stupid and couldn’t realize that this was certainly a first phase of schizophrenia. I could have done so much for that girl and I could have talked to her, but I always lived with the idea that she is “strange”, just because the others told so. I blame myself so much for I just now realize that this girl was only dissociating from the ugly reality she didn’t want to live to.
Projection- that defense mechanism happened to me last year in my previous school. I didn’t fancy a lot of people there, just because we had different values and we liked different kinds of things. That’s when I started imagining that they do not like me, and so I started avoiding them. That’s how unconsciously I handled my feelings and dislikes.
Reaction Formation- I once had a “friend” that constantly used the reaction formation as a defense. That girl was a really unfriendly person, she never wished anyone’s good, all of this bad stuff. But as we went to the American College of Sofia, I noticed something unusual and strange. She was acting TOO friendly with everyone and for those who knew her from before, it was clearly visible that she is faking that friendliness. But I guess that’s how she managed to fit in- we all have our own ways of surviving.
Repression- For example, there was a child abused by his parents, that constantly pushed away the thoughts of the violence he’s been through, hoping that it will stop. It worked at first, though later on that kid has a lot of difficulties with forming relationships, because he’s been through a hard, violent one with his parents, but has pushed away the thoughts. That is repression.
Displacement- I used to use this defense mechanism a lot before, but I started regretting it when I became conscious of what I was doing, because I realized that I was hurting my closest people. In my first school I was put through a lot of pressure and I had problems with a girl from my class, but I was scared that if I tell her whatever, she will turn my friends against me, because she knew how to do so (you know, the typical 5 grade stuff). So, every time I kept quiet in front of her, but when I got home, I used to get in fights with my mum and shout to her a lot, when one day my dad made me see what I’ve been doing. That’s when I felt really bad about myself, because my mother, the person who loves me most and unconditionally struggled because I was scared of a girl? NO, such things were not to continue. I changed drastically, to the good. I am now confident enough to tell people what I think and I am at my best relationship with mum. That’s what displacement thought me.
Intellectualization- I knew a boy who used to get really bad grades at school, and so he started hanging out with the rest of the students who got bad grades. That’s how he felt better about himself and I guess that’s how intellectualization works, like the case with the raped girl.
Rationalization- This psychological defense mechanism is used non-stop by almost everyone and most of the people are not able to understand it. I am going to give you an example with myself, which I’ve been conscious of. Every time I used to get bad grades at a test, I used to tell the others and even myself, that during the test I was not feeling okay, I was about to get sick, my stomach hurt, I had a headache and soo, so on. That’s exactly how rationalization works- I tried to make up logical reasons for the unacceptable grades I received.
Undoing- That basically the habit of when doing something bad to someone, realizing it and then trying to make the things better by praising or making the person you’ve insulted feel good somehow. I do this often to- whenever I say something bad to my best friend, she is a ballet dancer by the way, I tend to tell her how stunningly beautifully she dances, how pretty she is, and in how a sincere way she moves. That’s how I literally undo what I’ve done and stop feeling guilty and bad about myself.
Sublimation- Probably the most mature and useful defense mechanism- when in a bad state of mind, one is being able to get the bad energy into good stuff, such as creating something, painting, writing, singing. Literally, pushing the bad energy away through creating something useful. So, for example, a person with a strong sexual urge, instead of raping people, starts putting this unused passion into creating stuff, and so he/she becomes an artist (for example). They use their energy and passion into creative and useful stuff.
Compensation- Again, very mature and helpful, happens to most of us. The most common case in which a person uses compensation is found in the students. For instance, if a student gets a bad grade at math, but a good in literature, he explains to his parents “Yes, I have a low grade on my math test but so what? It doesn’t matter that much since I have a 6 on my literature essay, right?” That’s how the brain works and people are aware of what they are doing when they are compensating.
Assertiveness- In other words balancing between respectfully listening but being able to say exactly what you mean and think. When someone is being able to respectfully express their needs and thoughts. My father is a great example for an assertive person. Whenever he needs something from someone, he politely asks about it, after explaining why he is right, but without being disrespectful. Assertiveness is one of the most useful skills a person can have and I really suggest trying to be more assertive.