Freud and Ego Defense Mechanisms

Landis Baxter-Howard

The three parts of the mind

Ego defense mechanisms

In acting as a moderator between the id and superego, the ego has tools it uses to defend itself when it cannot fully satisfy both. If the id is unsatisfied, we feel pain, and if the superego is unsatisfied, we feel guilt, so the ego used these defense mechanisms to prevent this.

Examples of defense mechanisms

1. Denial: believing an anxiety-creating stimulus does not exist. For example, people who feel attracted to others of the same gender may deny that they do (in certain societies).

2. Projection: transferring unacceptable feelings and traits in yourself to someone else. For example, you may believe someone dislikes you, when in fact you strongly dislike them.


3. Rationalization: explaining an unacceptable feeling or behavior in a rational or logical way. For example, if someone's college application is rejected, they might believe that they didn't really want to go there.


4. Regression: reverting to behaviors used earlier in development. People may be fixated in a certain period of early development. For example, someone may sulk when something bad happens.


5. Sublimation: Acting on impulses in a socially acceptable way. For example, someone may become a football player to act out aggressive urges.