Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Defence mechanism

Defence mechanism

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Defence mechanism'
Start a new discussion about 'Defence mechanism'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
In Freudian psychoanalytic theory
Psychoanalytic theory
Psychoanalytic theory refers to the definition and dynamics of personality development which underlie and guide psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy. First laid out by Sigmund Freud, psychoanalytic theory has undergone many refinements since his work...

, defence mechanisms (or defense mechanisms) are unconscious psychological strategies brought into play by various entities to cope with reality and to maintain self-image. Healthy persons normally use different defences throughout life. An ego defence mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behaviour such that the physical and/or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of ego defence mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

, social sanctions or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.

They are more accurately referred to as ego defence mechanisms, and can thus be categorized as occurring when the id impulses are in conflict with each other, when the id impulses conflict with super-ego values and beliefs, and when an external threat is posed to the ego.

The term "defence mechanism" is often thought to refer to a definitive singular term for personality traits which arise due to loss or traumatic experiences, but more accurately refers to several types of reactions which were identified during and after Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

's daughter Anna
Anna Freud
Anna Freud was the sixth and last child of Sigmund and Martha Freud. Born in Vienna, she followed the path of her father and contributed to the newly born field of psychoanalysis...

's time.

Defence mechanisms are sometimes confused with coping strategies.

One resource used to evaluate these mechanisms is the Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ-40).

Structural model: The id, ego, and superego


The concept of id impulses comes from Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

’s structural model. According to this theory, id impulses are based on the pleasure principle
Pleasure principle (psychology)
In Freudian psychology, the pleasure principle is the psychoanalytic concept describing people seeking pleasure and avoiding suffering in order to satisfy their biological and psychological needs...

: instant gratification of one's own desires and needs. Sigmund Freud believed that the id represents biological instinctual impulses in ourselves, such as aggression (Thanatos
Thanatos
In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the daemon personification of death. He was a minor figure in Greek mythology, often referred to but rarely appearing in person...

 or the Death instinct) and sexuality (Eros
Eros (love)
Eros is one of the four words in Ancient Greek which can be rendered into English as “love”. The other three are storge, philia and agape...

 or the Life instinct). For example, when the id impulses (e.g. desire to have sexual relations with a stranger) conflict with the superego (e.g. belief in societal conventions of not having sex with unknown persons), unsatisfied feelings of anxiousness or feelings of anxiety come to the surface. To reduce these negative feelings, the ego might use defence mechanisms (conscious or unconscious blockage of the id impulses).

Freud also believed that conflicts between these two structures resulted in conflicts associated with psychosexual stages.


Definitions of individual psyche structures


Freud proposed three structures of the psyche or personality:
  • Id: a selfish, primitive, childish, pleasure-oriented part of the personality with no ability to delay gratification.
  • Superego: internalized societal and parental standards of "good" and "bad", "right" and "wrong" behaviour.
  • Ego: the moderator between the id and superego which seeks compromises to pacify both. It can be viewed as our "sense of time and place",

Primary and secondary processes


In the ego, there are two ongoing processes. First there is the unconscious primary process, where the thoughts are not organized in a coherent way, the feelings can shift, contradictions are not in conflict or are just not perceived that way, and condensations arise. There is no logic and no time line. Lust is important for this process. By contrast, there is the conscious secondary process, where strong boundaries are set and thoughts must be organized in a coherent way. Most conscious thoughts originate here.

The reality principle


Id impulses are not appropriate in civilized society, so society presses us to modify the pleasure principle in favour of the reality principle; that is, the requirements of the external world.

Formation of the superego


The superego forms as the child grows and learns parental and social standards. The superego consists of two structures: the conscience
Conscience
Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong. Moral judgement may derive from values or norms...

, which stores information about what is "bad" and what has been punished, and the ego ideal
Ego ideal
The ego ideal is the inner image of oneself as one wants to become. Alternatively, 'The Freudian notion of a perfect or ideal self housed in the superego', consisting of 'the individual's conscious and unconscious images of what he would like to be, patterned after certain people whom...he regards...

, which stores information about what is "good" and what one "should" do or be.

The ego's use of defence mechanisms


When anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

 becomes too overwhelming, it is then the place of the ego to employ defence mechanisms to protect the individual. Feelings of guilt
Guilt
Guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense. It is also a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that...

, embarrassment
Embarrassment
Embarrassment is an emotional state of intense discomfort with oneself, experienced upon having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by or revealed to others. Usually some amount of loss of honour or dignity is involved, but how much and the type depends on the embarrassing situation...

 and shame
Shame
Shame is, variously, an affect, emotion, cognition, state, or condition. The roots of the word shame are thought to derive from an older word meaning to cover; as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame....

 often accompany the feeling of anxiety. In the first definitive book on defence mechanisms, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (1936), Anna Freud introduced the concept of signal anxiety; she stated that it was "not directly a conflicted instinctual tension but a signal occurring in the ego of an anticipated instinctual tension". The signalling function of anxiety is thus seen as a crucial one and biologically adapted to warn the organism of danger or a threat to its equilibrium. The anxiety is felt as an increase in bodily or mental tension and the signal that the organism receives in this way allows it the possibility of taking defensive action towards the perceived danger. Defence mechanisms work by distorting the id impulses into acceptable forms, or by unconscious or conscious blockage of these impulses.

Theories and classifications


The list of defence mechanisms is huge and there is no theoretical consensus on the number of defence mechanisms. Classifying defence mechanisms according to some of their properties (i.e. underlying mechanisms, similarities or connections with personality) has been attempted. Different theorists have different categorizations and conceptualizations of defence mechanisms. Large reviews of theories of defence mechanisms are available from Paulhus, Fridhandler and Hayes (1997) and Cramer (1991). The Journal of Personality published a special issue on defence mechanisms (1998).

Otto F. Kernberg
Otto F. Kernberg
Otto Friedmann Kernberg is a psychoanalyst and professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is most widely known for his psychoanalytic theories on borderline personality organization and narcissistic pathology...

 (1967) developed a theory of borderline personality organization of which one consequence may be borderline personality disorder
Borderline personality disorder
Borderline personality disorder is a personality disorder described as a prolonged disturbance of personality function in a person , characterized by depth and variability of moods.The disorder typically involves unusual levels of instability in mood; black and white thinking, or splitting; the...

. His theory is based on ego psychological object relations theory. Borderline personality organization develops when the child cannot integrate positive and negative mental objects together. Kernberg views the use of primitive defence mechanisms as central to this personality organization. Primitive psychological defences are projection, denial, dissociation or splitting and they are called borderline defence mechanisms. Also, devaluation and projective identification are seen as borderline defences.

In George Eman Vaillant
George Eman Vaillant
George Eman Vaillant, M.D. is an American psychiatrist and Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of Research for the Department of Psychiatry, . Dr. Vaillant has spent his research career charting adult development and the recovery process of schizophrenia, heroin addiction,...

's (1977) categorization, defences form a continuum related to their psychoanalytical developmental level. Vaillant's levels are:
  • Level I - pathological defences (i.e. psychotic denial, delusional projection)
  • Level II - immature defences (i.e. fantasy, projection, passive aggression, acting out)
  • Level III - neurotic defences (i.e. intellectualization, reaction formation, dissociation, displacement, repression)
  • Level IV - mature defences (i.e. humour, sublimation, suppression, altruism, anticipation)


Robert Plutchik
Robert Plutchik
Robert Plutchik was professor emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and adjunct professor at the University of South Florida. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and he was also a psychologist. He has authored or coauthored more than 260 articles, 45 chapters and eight...

's (1979) theory views defences as derivatives of basic emotions. Defence mechanisms in his theory are (in order of placement in circumplex model): reaction formation, denial, repression, regression, compensation, projection, displacement, intellectualization.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association
American Psychiatric Association
The American Psychiatric Association is the main professional organization of psychiatrists and trainee psychiatrists in the United States, and the most influential worldwide. Its some 38,000 members are mainly American but some are international...

 (1994) includes a tentative diagnostic axis for defence mechanisms. This classification is largely based on Vaillant's hierarchical view of defences, but has some modifications. Examples include: denial, fantasy, rationalization, regression, isolation, projection, and displacement.

Level 1 - Pathological


The mechanisms on this level, when predominating, almost always are severely pathological
Psychopathology
Psychopathology is the study of mental illness, mental distress, and abnormal/maladaptive behavior. The term is most commonly used within psychiatry where pathology refers to disease processes...

. These four defences, in conjunction, permit one to effectively rearrange external experiences to eliminate the need to cope with reality. The pathological users of these mechanisms frequently appear irrational or insane
Insanity
Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms, including becoming a danger to themselves and others, though not all such acts are considered insanity...

 to others. These are the "psychotic" defences, common in overt psychosis
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

. However, they are found in dream
Dream
Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, philosophical intrigue and religious...

s and throughout childhood as well.

They include:
  • Delusional Projection
    Delusion
    A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological...

    : Grossly frank delusions about external reality, usually of a persecutory nature.
  • Denial
    Denial
    Denial is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.The subject may use:* simple denial: deny the reality of the...

    : Refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening; arguing against an anxiety-provoking stimulus by stating it doesn't exist; resolution of emotional conflict and reduction of anxiety by refusing to perceive or consciously acknowledge the more unpleasant aspects of external reality.
  • Distortion
    Cognitive distortion
    Cognitive distortions are exaggerated and irrational thoughts identified in cognitive therapy and its variants, which in theory perpetuate certain psychological disorders. The theory of cognitive distortions was first proposed by Aaron T. Beck. Eliminating these distortions and negative thoughts is...

    : A gross reshaping of external reality to meet internal needs.
  • Splitting
    Splitting (psychology)
    Splitting may mean two things: splitting of the mind, and splitting of mental concepts . The latter is thinking purely in extremes Splitting (also called all-or-nothing thinking in cognitive distortion) may mean two things: splitting of the mind, and splitting of mental concepts (or black and...

    : A primitive defence. Negative and positive impulses are split off and unintegrated. Fundamental example: An individual views other people as either innately good or innately evil, rather than a whole continuous being.
  • Extreme projection
    Psychological projection
    Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people...

    : The blatant denial of a moral or psychological deficiency, which is perceived as a deficiency in another individual or group.

Level 2 - Immature


These mechanisms are often present in adults and more commonly present in adolescents
Adolescence
Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development generally occurring between puberty and legal adulthood , but largely characterized as beginning and ending with the teenage stage...

. These mechanisms lessen distress and anxiety provoked by threatening people or by uncomfortable reality. People who excessively use such defences are seen as socially undesirable in that they are immature, difficult to deal with and seriously out of touch with reality. These are the so-called "immature" defences and overuse almost always leads to serious problems in a person's ability to cope effectively. These defences are often seen in severe depression and personality disorders. In adolescence, the occurrence of all of these defences is normal.

They include:
  • Acting out
    Acting out
    Acting out is a psychological term from the parlance of defense mechanisms and self-control, meaning to perform an action in contrast to bearing and managing the impulse to perform it. The acting done is usually anti-social and may take the form of acting on the impulses of an addiction Acting out...

    : Direct expression of an unconscious wish or impulse in action, without conscious awareness of the emotion that drives that expressive behaviour.
  • Fantasy
    Fantasy (psychology)
    Fantasy in a psychological sense is broadly used to cover two different senses, conscious and unconscious. In the unconscious sense, it is sometimes spelled "phantasy".-Conscious fantasy:...

    : Tendency to retreat into fantasy in order to resolve inner and outer conflicts.
  • Idealization
    Idealization and devaluation
    In psychoanalytic theory, when an individual is unable to integrate difficult feelings, specific defenses are mobilized to overcome what the individual perceives as an unbearable situation. The defense that helps in this process is called splitting. Splitting is the tendency to view events or...

    : Unconsciously choosing to perceive another individual as having more positive qualities than he or she may actually have.
  • Passive aggression: Aggression towards others expressed indirectly or passively such as using procrastination
    Procrastination
    In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of low-priority, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time...

    .
  • Projection
    Psychological projection
    Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people...

    : Projection is a primitive form of paranoia
    Paranoia
    Paranoia [] is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself...

    . Projection also reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the undesirable impulses or desires without becoming consciously aware of them; attributing one's own unacknowledged unacceptable/unwanted thoughts and emotions to another; includes severe prejudice
    Prejudice
    Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

    , severe jealousy
    Envy
    Envy is best defined as a resentful emotion that "occurs when a person lacks another's superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it."...

    , hypervigilance
    Hypervigilance
    Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect threats. Hypervigilance is also accompanied by a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion. Other symptoms include: abnormally increased arousal, a...

     to external danger, and "injustice collecting". It is shifting one's unacceptable thoughts, feelings and impulses within oneself onto someone else, such that those same thoughts, feelings, beliefs and motivations are perceived as being possessed by the other.
  • Projective identification
    Projective identification
    Projective Identification is 'a term first used by Melanie Klein to describe a process whereby parts of the ego are thought of as forced into another person who is then expected to become identified with whatever has been projected'....

    : The object of projection
    Psychological projection
    Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people...

     invokes in that person precisely the thoughts, feelings or behaviours projected.
  • Somatization
    Somatization
    Somatization is currently defined as "a tendency to experience and communicate somatic distress in response to psychosocial stress and to seek medical help for it".This can be, but not always, related to a psychological condition:...

    : The transformation of negative feelings towards others into negative feelings toward self, pain, illness, and anxiety.

Level 3 - Neurotic


These mechanisms are considered neurotic
Neurosis
Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic...

, but fairly common in adults. Such defences have short-term advantages in coping, but can often cause long-term problems in relationships, work and in enjoying life when used as one's primary style of coping with the world.

They include:
  • Displacement
    Displacement (psychology)
    In Freudian psychology, displacement is an unconscious defense mechanism whereby the mind redirects effects from an object felt to be dangerous or unacceptable to an object felt to be safe or acceptable...

    : Defence mechanism that shifts sexual or aggressive impulses to a more acceptable or less threatening target; redirecting emotion to a safer outlet; separation of emotion from its real object and redirection of the intense emotion toward someone or something that is less offensive or threatening in order to avoid dealing directly with what is frightening or threatening. For example, a mother may yell at her child because she is angry with her husband.
  • Dissociation: Temporary drastic modification of one's personal identity or character to avoid emotional distress; separation or postponement of a feeling that normally would accompany a situation or thought.
  • Hypochondriasis: An excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness.
  • Intellectualization
    Intellectualization
    Intellectualization is a defense mechanism where reasoning is used to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress, by 'using excessive and abstract ideation to avoid difficult feelings'. It involves removing one's self, emotionally, from a stressful event...

    : A form of isolation; concentrating on the intellectual components of a situation so as to distance oneself from the associated anxiety-provoking emotions; separation of emotion from ideas; thinking about wishes in formal, affectively bland terms and not acting on them; avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on the intellectual aspects (e.g. isolation
    Solitude
    Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people. It may stem from bad relationships, deliberate choice, infectious disease, mental disorders, neurological disorders or circumstances of employment or situation .Short-term solitude is often valued as a time when one...

    , rationalization
    Rationalization (psychology)
    In psychology and logic, rationalization is an unconscious defense mechanism in which perceived controversial behaviors or feelings are logically justified and explained in a rational or logical manner in order to avoid any true explanation and made consciously tolerable by plausible means...

    , ritual
    Ritual
    A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

    , undoing
    Undoing (psychology)
    Undoing is a defence mechanism in which a person tries to 'undo' an unhealthy, destructive or otherwise threatening thought or action by engaging in contrary behaviour. For example, after thinking about being violent with someone, one would then be overly nice or accommodating to them...

    , compensation
    Compensation (psychology)
    In psychology, compensation is a strategy whereby one covers up, consciously or unconsciously, weaknesses, frustrations, desires, feelings of inadequacy or incompetence in one life area through the gratification or excellence in another area. Compensation can cover up either real or imagined...

    , magical thinking
    Magical thinking
    Magical thinking is causal reasoning that looks for correlation between acts or utterances and certain events. In religion, folk religion, and superstition, the correlation posited is between religious ritual, such as prayer, sacrifice, or the observance of a taboo, and an expected benefit or...

    ).
  • Isolation
    Isolation (psychology)
    Isolation is a defence mechanism in psychoanalytic theory, whereby the person "isolates" the unpleasant idea from the normal emotional response. For example, describing a murder in graphic details without an emotional involvement invokes isolation....

    : Separation of feelings from ideas and events, for example, describing a murder with graphic details with no emotional response.
  • Rationalization (making excuses): Where a person convinces him or herself that no wrong was done and that all is or was all right through faulty and false reasoning. An indicator of this defence mechanism can be seen socially as the formulation of convenient excuses - making excuses.
  • Reaction formation
    Reaction formation
    In psychoanalytic theory, reaction formation is a defensive process in which anxiety-producing or unacceptable emotions and impulses are mastered by exaggeration of the directly opposing tendency.-Theory:...

    : Converting unconscious wishes or impulses that are perceived to be dangerous into their opposites; behaviour that is completely the opposite of what one really wants or feels; taking the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety. This defence can work effectively for coping in the short term, but will eventually break down.
  • Regression
    Regression (psychology)
    Regression, according to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, is a defense mechanism leading to the temporary or long-term reversion of the ego to an earlier stage of development rather than handling unacceptable impulses in a more adult way...

    : Temporary reversion of the ego to an earlier stage of development rather than handling unacceptable impulses in a more adult way.
  • Repression
    Psychological repression
    Psychological repression, also psychic repression or simply repression, is the psychological attempt by an individual to repel one's own desires and impulses towards pleasurable instincts by excluding the desire from one's consciousness and holding or subduing it in the unconscious...

    : The process of attempting to repel desires towards pleasurable instincts, caused by a threat of suffering if the desire is satisfied; the desire is moved to the unconscious in the attempt to prevent it from entering consciousness; seemingly unexplainable naivety, memory lapse or lack of awareness of one's own situation and condition; the emotion is conscious, but the idea behind it is absent.
  • Undoing
    Undoing (psychology)
    Undoing is a defence mechanism in which a person tries to 'undo' an unhealthy, destructive or otherwise threatening thought or action by engaging in contrary behaviour. For example, after thinking about being violent with someone, one would then be overly nice or accommodating to them...

    : A person tries to 'undo' an unhealthy, destructive or otherwise threatening thought by engaging in contrary behaviour.
  • Withdrawal: Withdrawal is a more severe form of defence. It entails removing oneself from events, stimuli, interactions, etc. that could remind one of painful thoughts and feelings.

Level 4 - Mature


These are commonly found among emotionally healthy adults and are considered mature, even though many have their origins in an immature stage of development. They have been adapted through the years in order to optimize success in life and relationships. The use of these defences enhances pleasure and feelings of control. These defences help us integrate conflicting emotions and thoughts, while still remaining effective. Those who use these mechanisms are usually considered virtuous.

They include:
  • Altruism
    Altruism
    Altruism is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of 'others' toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of...

    : Constructive service to others that brings pleasure and personal satisfaction.
  • Anticipation
    Anticipation (emotion)
    Anticipation, or being enthusiastic, is an emotion involving pleasure, excitement, and sometimes anxiety in considering some expected or longed-for good event.-As defence mechanism:...

    : Realistic planning for future discomfort.
  • Humour
    Humour
    Humour or humor is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement...

    : Overt expression of ideas and feelings (especially those that are unpleasant to focus on or too terrible to talk about) that gives pleasure to others. The thoughts retain a portion of their innate distress, but they are "skirted round" by witticism.
  • Identification: The unconscious modelling of one's self upon another person's character and behaviour.
  • Introjection
    Introjection
    Introjection is a psychoanalytical term with a variety of meanings.Generally, it is regarded as the process where the subject replicates in itself behaviors, attributes or other fragments of the surrounding world, especially of other subjects...

    : Identifying with some idea or object so deeply that it becomes a part of that person.
  • Sublimation
    Sublimation (psychology)
    In psychology, sublimation is a mature type of defence mechanism where socially unacceptable impulses or idealizations are consciously transformed into socially acceptable actions or behaviour, possibly converting the initial impulse in the long term...

    : Transformation of negative emotions or instincts into positive actions, behaviour, or emotion.
  • Thought suppression
    Thought suppression
    Thought suppression is the process of deliberately trying to stop thinking about certain thoughts . It is often associated with obsessive–compulsive disorder, in which a sufferer will repeatedly attempt to prevent or "neutralize" intrusive distressing thoughts centered around one or more obsessions...

    : The conscious process of pushing thoughts into the preconscious; the conscious decision to delay paying attention to an emotion or need in order to cope with the present reality; making it possible to later access uncomfortable or distressing emotions while accepting them.

External links