Defense mechanisms are a variety of behaviors that keep a person from confronting and acknowledging uncomfortable feelings.
They include denial, projection, repression, and suppression.
Defense mechanisms are inherited from our parents and are often first manifested in childhood.
When you think about developing your characters, you must find ways to show how emotions affect your characters.
One way to do that is by exploring defense mechanisms.
Here are some examples of defining them:
|Conversion||Unconscious expression of intrapsychic conflict through physical symptoms|
|Undoing||Counteracting transgression or wrongdoing|
|Disassociation||Unconscious separation of painful feelings from unacceptable ideas, situations, or objects|
|Displacement||Discharging pent-up emotions on objects less dangerous than those that initially aroused the hostile emotion|
|Repression||Blocking threatening memory from consciousness|
|Identification||Modeling oneself after another|
|Rationalization||Justifying failures with socially acceptable reasons instead of the truth|
|Reaction-formation||Transforming anxiety-producing thoughts into their opposites in consciousness|
|Denial||Refusing to admit something unpleasant is happening or experiencing taboo emotions|
|Suppression||Voluntary exclusion from awareness|
|Intellectualization||Using logical explanations without feelings|
|Regression||Returning to more primitive behavior|
|Introjection||Unconsciously incorporating the wishes, values, and attitudes of others|
|Compensation||Covering up weaknesses by overemphasizing or making up|
|Sublimation||Channeling instinctive drives into acceptable activities|
|Projection||Blaming someone else for difficulties|
We all have a defense mechanism to deal with difficult or stressful parts of our lives.
Some people use this coping strategy to reduce stress through positive thinking, sleeping, or eating.
When coping strategies don’t work, some people turn to unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking, drug use, or eating unhealthy like junk food, sugar, or saturated fat.
How would your character react to an unhappy moment, situation, or memory?
This guide can be a good starting point to help you narrow down the possibilities.