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Pronunciation (US): 

 Dictionary entry overview: What does defense mechanism mean? 

  The noun DEFENSE MECHANISM has 1 sense:

1. (psychiatry) an unconscious process that tries to reduce the anxiety associated with instinctive desires

  Familiarity information: DEFENSE MECHANISM used as a noun is very rare.

 Dictionary entry details 


Sense 1defense mechanism [BACK TO TOP]


(psychiatry) an unconscious process that tries to reduce the anxiety associated with instinctive desires

Classified under:

Nouns denoting natural processes


defence; defence mechanism; defence reaction; defense mechanism; defense reaction; defense

Hypernyms ("defense mechanism" is a kind of...):

process; unconscious process (a mental process that you are not directly aware of)

psychoanalytic process (a process that is assumed to occur in psychoanalytic theory)

Domain category:

psychiatry; psychological medicine; psychopathology (the branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders)

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of "defense mechanism"):

compensation ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism that conceals your undesirable shortcomings by exaggerating desirable behaviors)

regression ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which you flee from reality by assuming a more infantile state)

reaction formation ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously develops attitudes and behavior that are the opposite of unacceptable repressed desires and impulses and serve to conceal them)

rationalisation; rationalization ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism by which your true motivation is concealed by explaining your actions and feelings in a way that is not threatening)

projection ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism by which your own traits and emotions are attributed to someone else)

isolation ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism in which memory of an unacceptable act or impulse is separated from the emotion originally associated with it)

intellectualisation; intellectualization ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism that uses reasoning to block out emotional stress and conflict)

idealisation; idealization ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism that splits something you are ambivalent about into two representations--one good and one bad)

displacement ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism that transfers affect or reaction from the original object to some more acceptable one)

denial ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism that denies painful thoughts)

conversion ((psychiatry) a defense mechanism represses emotional conflicts which are then converted into physical symptoms that have no organic basis)

repression ((psychiatry) the classical defense mechanism that protects you from impulses or ideas that would cause anxiety by preventing them from becoming conscious)

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