Defense Mechanisms, and stuff..

Random Postal Service music…

So in my terrible Mosaic class we’ve been reading Freud’s lectures recently.  I really like reading psych stuff because I think it opens my mind to look at myself and the people around me a little bit differently, or through a different lens, I suppose.  I mean, I think a lot of Freud’s claims are a little bit insane, like how he thinks everything is somehow a sexual desire, like walking up a flight of stairs.  But I really think he has it right with his defense mechanisms, and I think they’ve definitely helped me identify problems I have with myself, as well as understand other people a little better since I first learned about them in my high school AP psych class.  I guess I’ll go over the ones I’ve been dealing with most recently, although I’m not sure how in-depth I’ll get because it could be a little revealing. lol.

Side note: my fingernails are getting too long and typing is a pain right now.  That’s how I know when I need to trim my fingernails, when they screw up my guitar playing, and when I can feel them on the keys of my keyboard.  This makes it sound like my fingernails have gotta be about 2 inches long right now, but they’re really not that bad. I promise. But I am gonna go trim them before I continue writing thing thing. brb.

Soooo much better. Alright, here we go.

So the basis behind all of these is just that they’re all lies that we tell ourselves, or that our brains conjure, to somehow justify or redirect our personal problems in order to keep ourselves from realizing that we’ve got flaws.  This is done because if we were able to pick ourselves apart as effectively as we pick others apart we’d feel terrible about ourselves.  On the other hand, you can sorta use them to reflect on yourself and realize what it really is that’s bothering you so that you stop sugar coating everything and take care of yourself.  It’s really sorta tough to explain, but that’s how I look at them, and I think they’re kinda cool, and this is my blog, so I’m gonna write about them.  So there.

My favorite of these, and probably the most commonly used by people is called Rationalization.  Basically, this is the way people justify their actions in hindsight so that they don’t feel guilty for their actions.  I wrote a paper last year for my English class that I’ve talked about on here before that was all about the ways I changed as a person throughout my freshman year, and I actually talked about rationalization in it.  I was at a point in my life last year where I was faced with challenges I’d never had to deal with before.  In high school I never drank or partied or anything like that, so coming to a school where that played such a huge role in a student’s social lifestyle was a challenge to me on a moral level.  I felt wrong doing it for a long time, but I knew that it was my ticket to getting out, meeting new people, and making friends.  In regard to this scenario, this is an excerpt from the paper I wrote:

"In summation, you could certainly say that assimilating to Temple’s lifestyle has forced me out of my social comfort zone.  Appiah stated that “our efforts to justify what we have done – or what we plan to do – are typically made up after the event, rationalizations of what he have decided intuitively” (64).  This is hands down the best way to describe the social changes I’ve gone through this year, however, I wouldn’t say my decisions were intuitive.  I spent a lot of time juggling ideas of who I was and who I thought I wanted to be.  It is crystal clear to me that my morals and ethics have changed this year, perhaps to protect my self-image — to “justify” and “rationalize” my actions as a necessity to fit in and belong." 

So basically, over the course of a year I went from a 100% straight-edge kid to someone who goes out weekendly to enjoy a night out with his friends, and although I initially didn’t feel good about myself for drinking, I don’t hate myself for it now.  While this is a relatively small and morally acceptable example for most, it could be used to justify just about anything.  For example: a poverty-stricken, loving father takes on the job of a hit man to earn enough money to send his daughter to college.  Twisted, right?  It’s simply the act of convincing yourself that the value of the end result is more important than the means of achieving it.  Rationalization, ladies and gentleman.

Another big one I used last year with my ex is called Identification with the aggressor.  Basically, this one requires that you’re sort-of forced to be in contact with somebody on some level, because otherwise I don’t know why you wouldn’t just avoid them in order to subdue the stresses they cause you.  In my case this was the first girl I ever REALLY fell for, so that kind-of excuses me (rationalization at work), but I still should’ve ditched her long before I did.  Anyway, so what it amounted to was that we were both brand new college kids with very different approaches to college.  She was much more willing to try anything and everything than I was, and, of course, being in a relationship with her, that caused me a lot of stress.  I just never knew what she was getting into, or how far she’d go, ya know?  So after a little while, straight-edged little me started trying out her new-found thrills so I could try to identify with her a little better and not be so worried about what she was up to.  How could I be upset with her for something that I did, too?  It wasn’t healthy, and it certainly wasn’t me, but I was young and naive (I’m still young and naive, but at least now I know it) and I didn’t know any better (more rationalization).  Lessons learned, I suppose.  I’ve since reverted back to my level-headed self.  She’s still pretty wisp-of-the-wind-like.  Takes all kinds….

Those are really the only two that I’ve got life stories to go along with, but now you can see how they’re used and maybe look for them in your own life.  Maybe you can even save yourself a bunch of stress and just realize that if you recognize them in yourself you should probably just back up and be real with yourself for a little while.  Or not, I mean you’re as entitled to learn by experience as I was.  If you wanna read up on the rest of them, you can find them here:


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