Human Defense Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are simply ways of coping with a given circumstance in your life.  Different people react differently, of course, but it’s always for the same basic cause.   Defense of self.   When you fear for yourself, mentally and emotionally, physically, whichever it may be, you are going to do what you can to react and keep yourself safe.


More specifically, emotional defense mechanisms are one’s reactions to situations that cause them emotional distress of some sort.  Relationships with others, stress from work, a death in the family, etc. are all examples of things that could cause feelings that could be under the category of “emotional distress.”  It’s very understandable how that could warrant a reaction from a person that is in the attempt to help preserve themselves and their well being.  It’s human nature to try to take care of one’s self by whatever means necessary.   Therein lies some of the problem.


As previously stated, people react differently to different situations.   Not all of those ways are helpful to that person, or to those around them.  When upset, people don’t think as clearly as they probably should, and judgement is clouded to the point where the first idea may seem like the best or only idea.   This may sometimes include rash actions directed to the cause of the stress.   Instances where another person is causing the stress could result in injury to said person, even though this isn’t always the case.  Another exhibit of anger could be to an object which is frustrating the person, where he or she would try to break or damage the object in some manner.


Anger is definitely not the only reaction to emotionally trying circumstances.  Some people react with a reclusive behavior in which they’ll draw away from others, normally those close to them, but that can also extend to strangers or other less known people, as well.  An idea behind this reaction is to push others away while trying to work out the problem within themselves, as though others might hinder them while trying to make sense of what happened or a possible solution.  Or, another way to see it is that the reclusive behavior is to push others away to keep from reminding themselves of the problem at hand.  Some people may view those around them as a reminder of something that causes them emotionally distress and push them away because, at that time, they aren’t willing to attempt to resolve whatever problem they’re trying to get out of facing.


At the most basic level, a defense mechanism is just that.   It is a way to attempt to defend yourself from whatever it is that you feel may be causing you pain of some sort, or something that has the potential to.   It’s a response from living things to protect themselves.  In the end, they are most definitely needed, but it’s more the manner in which the problem is coped with that can end up being a problem.

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