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Lecture 18

PSYC 217 Lecture 18: Anxiety and the defence mechanisms

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PSYC 217
Benjamin Cheung

Anxiety and the defence mechanisms  Defence mechanisms: unconscious manoeuvres intended to minimize anxiety o Repression: motivated forgetting of emotionally threatening memories or impulses = distressing internal experiences  We forget bc we want to forget  Infantile amnesia: the inability to remember anything prior to about the age of 3 o Denial: motivated forgetting of distressing external experiences  A mother who loses a child in a car accident insists that her child is alive o Regression: the act of returning psychologically to a younger, and typically simpler and safer age  Midlife crisis – buying new cars to seem younger, going to clubs again to seem younger o Reaction-formation: transformation of an anxiety-provoking emotion into its opposite  The observable emotion we see actually reflects the emotion opposite to the one the persona feels unconsciously  Anxiety can increase sexual arousal  A woman who is sexually attracted to a coworker experiences hatred and revulsion toward him o Projection: unconscious attribution of our negative characteristics to others  People with paranoia are projecting their unconscious hostility onto others o Displacement: directing an impulse from socially unacceptable target onto a safer and more socially acceptable target  After a frustrating day at work, we may pound our fist against the punching bag at the gym o Rationalization: providing a reasonable-sounding explanation for unreasonable behaviours  Political candidate who loses an election convinces herself that she didn’t really want the position after all o Intellectualization: avoiding the emotions associated with anxiety-provoking experiences by focusing on abstract and impersonal thoughts  A woman whose husband cheats on her reassures herself that “according to evolutionary psychologists, men are naturally sexually promiscuous, so there’s nothing to worry about” o Sublimation: Transforming a socially unacceptable impulse into a admired and
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