Discuss defense mechanisms' implications in the development of personality.  

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The defense mechanism has a profound impact on the development of personality.  The idea of a defense mechanism is a psychological approach to coping with a particular problem or situation.  It is a construct of the conscious in dealing with an issue that potentially resides in the subconsciousness.  In many ways, the defense mechanism reflects a way to indicate that something is wrong.  Part of where the psychoanalyst places focus is not necessarily on the defense mechanism, but rather what it means and how its implications reflect something different.  For example, denial can be seen as a defense mechanism.  The question and implication on personality development is the follow up question in terms of what is sought denial.  Compensation as a defense mechanism could be masking something else and towards this end, there is a very interesting discussion that takes place.

I think that the defense mechanism's impact on personality lies here.  The exploration of what the defense mechanism might be concealing or where its origin lies helps to broaden one's understanding of personality.  One of the strongest examples of a defense mechanism and how it impacts personality development would have to lie with repression.  The need to repress as a way of dealing with a certain aspect or predicament of one's being in the world has a massive impact on the development of their personality.  This is something that when explored can greatly enhance the understanding of oneself.  Through the exploration of why one represses, for example, there can be a larger understanding of self.  It is also something that when negated or continued can also have a profound impact on one's personality. Not seizing the opportunity to analyze one's repression could retard the psychological understanding of self.   Either way, this example demonstrates how defense mechanisms hold a very profound impact on the development of personality.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

According to Freud, Personality is made up of id, ego, and the superego. Ego is the executive which mediates the other two. Defense Mechanisms is a way for the ego to protect itself from anxiety. It is methods to reduce anxiety of distort reality. Defense Mechanisms do take a part in the development of Psychology. "Repression" when we push desires that cause anxiety out of consciousness.


- when you deal with anxiety by returning to an earlier stage of development

- going to our comfortable childhood days when facing stressful situation

Reaction Formation

- Reacts in a manner opposite that of his or her true feelings, ego changes forbidden desires into their opposite.


- Attributing to his or her own feelings to others

- hide bad desires by attributing them to others


- offer false, or self-justifying explanations of his or her own actions


- impulse are directed to an object other than the one that caused arousal


- refuses to believe a painful reality


- changing unwanted desires into something honorable