Getting all defensive..Part 1

Along with ‘couple fit’ talking about defences. be they purely verbal or physical, or a combination of the two in the way they show themselves, seems to be an area of pretty intense interest.  I think it’s because they can be quite accessible, recognisable to spot and you can recognise them in yourself.

A level of defence is a good thing and protects you, those around you and indicates a level of social awareness.  You might argue that the employment of defences, to some degree, allows successful and more complex social interactions.  A good example would be the ability of service personnel to compartmentalise traumatic war zone events and not bring them back to civilian life e.g.  Not talking about dismemberment and explosive devices when buying the paper at the newsagents.

It is when the defence goes beyond the control of the originator, becomes a repetitive default response or becomes evidence of a dysfunctional behaviour that defences can become an issue.  I’m not really sure what the ‘official’ number of defences is.  A quick look on the web sees some people putting down 6 ‘main’ ones, one lists 10, another lists 12 – I came up with 15, but I have probably split some, double counted and made one up!

In no particular order they are:

1.Denial – not acknowledging your own behaviour and using a ‘shield’ of some other reason to justify the you protect yourself from needing to acknowledge something unpalatable – e.g. denial of the idea you smoke by using the name/excuse’ social smoking’ or ‘I only smoke when I have a drink…’.  This could have far more serious implications as part of the justification for somebody staying in an abusive relationship could be to deny/minimise the abuse as a sign of ‘true love’. A more common example would be the serious impact of sudden/traumatic grief and relative(s) are not clearing out the dead person’s belongings until a considerable time after the event.

2.Repression – consciously or unconsciously ‘forgetting’ an unpleasant memory.  This could be as powerful as somebody who has suffered a trauma being unable to recall the specific details of the event to the Donald Trump approach to the US election – seemingly a genuine feeling he won repressing the reality that he lost.

3.Regression – This is the reversion back to a childlike emotional state – ‘throwing your toys out of the pram’, sulking, shouting over someone, refusing to listen, storming off etc, in which your base/childhood unconscious anxieties, fears and general emotional instability erupt (before you have learnt adult control).  Essentially this is a toddler temper tantrum e.g. it leads to irrational behaviours such as road rage incidents, the ‘red mist’ descending, Donald Trump not only repressing idea he lost, but doubling down on the idea there is systemic weakness in the election process, contrary to all evidence.  In arguments it is usually met with the accusation ‘you’re SUCH a child…’

4.Displacement – this is when you ‘take out’ your true feelings on to someone else – usually someone close to you who is not responsible in any way. In the ‘biz’ we would call that ‘transference’ of your true emotions.

A common example would be that you’ve had a pretty unsatisfactory conversation about work with your boss or teacher, and you feel quite helpless but you can’t express your true emotion toward him or her.  Instead, you come home and, usually without intending to or really being aware of it, pick a fight with someone else rather than the actual cause of our difficulties.  The problem is that this is usually our partners, family or friends, and can result in other difficulties.

Spotted any you do yet?!

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More tomorrow!


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