The practical info….
Defence mechanisms are part of our everyday life and are not necessarily pathological. How often have we ‘forgotten’ a dentist appointment, or used unhelpful behaviour in an already stressful situation? They are instinctive behavioural responses rooted in the subconscious mind. They are there to defend you against a perceived attack. To protect ourselves against anxiety, we use unconscious defence mechanisms.
The science info…
Defences are, according to psychoanalytic theory, rooted in our character and in our past. Personality is believed to be in part related to the defence mechanisms that we typically utilise. But why is it important that I can identify these with my client, or refer to a clinical practitioner to treat? It is important if I see a possible intrapsychic conflict which is creating anxiety.
A clinical practitioner (as opposed to behavioural) will explore and treat this issue.