Applying Defense Mechanisms

Sunday, May 17, 2009
Posted by: Ms. Shea in In Class

Part I

For each of the situations described below, identify which defense mechanism is operating. 

  1. Marty, a rather insecure young executive, leases a new BMW. Whenever he and his coworkers go out to lunch, Marty always offers to drive so he can show off his car. 
  2. Sandy, a 3 year old who has been toilet trained for some time, starts wetting the bed after the birth of her baby sister. 
  3. Aaron has given up smoking quite recently and still craves cigarettes. After catching a slight cold, he smoked a few cigarettes, declaring that they improved his stuffy head. 
  4. Kevin found out that his girlfriend has been dating someone else. More than slightly irritated, he kicked a football through a window. 
  5. Juliet was very afraid of her temper and constantly tried to control it. As a child, she had beaten her baby sister, but does not remember doing so. 
  6. Tamika was just told that she had failed a project. Tamika thought it was her best work. Although very upset, she talked endlessly about how the educational system was “an antiquated institution, that graded students with archaic and unfair standards.”
  7. Although Reggie was never a good student, he was always proud of his career as a baseball player and focused on that part of his life when he talked to people. 
  8. Harley received a letter from a college he had dreamed of attending, telling him that he did not meet the college’s standards and was being denied admission. When asked by his teacher where he was going to school, he still answered proudly that he was going to attend that college. 
  9. Mrs. Smith’s husband left her soon after the birth of her child, Adam. Unconsciously, she feels that the baby is the cause of the breakup. Still, she smothers Adam with love and affection. 
  10. Buddy is very attracted to the girl who sits next to him in biology class. However, she is dating his best friend. Fortunately, Buddy has gym class right after biology and runs three laps around the track at the beginning of each class. 
  11. Beth cheated on her math final. When she and her friends go out to eat later, she starts accusing her friend Sarah of cheating so she could get into a good college. 


For each of the following defense mechanisms, devise a scenario in which the mechanism is being used. Your classmates will have to determine what mechanism is operating based on the scenarios you write. Your scenario must be at least two sentences long. They cannot be the same as the scenarios above or the ones from the notes. 

  1. repression
  2. denial
  3. rationalization
  4. displacement
  5. regression 
  6. Sublimation 
  7. Reaction formation
  8. Projection 
  9. Identification
  10. Intellectualization
  11. Compensation 
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