Margot Phaneuf, RN, Ph.D.
March 2007 revised Nov. 2013
« Defense mechanism, in psychoanalytic theory, is a mental process that enables the mind to reach compromise solution to conflicts that it is unable to resolve » Encyclopaedia britannica
We often believe that only psychiatric patients, especially psychotics, use defense mechanisms. This idea is widespread, but it is interesting to note how defense mechanisms function in the lives of rather sane people like you and me. We are also led to wonder which factors underlie certain (annoying) behaviours expressed by our students. Why do they wait until the last minute to study and seem unconcerned when they know that exams are just around the corner? Why do students fail to realize that spending too much time on recreational activities and non-academic work leads them straight to failure? The manner in which they express certain defense mechanisms illustrates how they cloud reality to avoid suffering, at least for a while.
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