15 Common Ways to Deal with Pain – Defense Mechanisms

It is not about what you face. It is is how you response it. I would like to review you the common way to deal with pain through 3 different level of defense mechanisms which will tell you how mature you can pass various situations.

Primitive Defense Mechanisms


The refusal to accept reality or fact to avoid dealing with painful feelings or slices of their life they don’t want to admit in their everyday lives.

Example: The alcoholic person will not accept the he is alcoholic.


Exhibiting earlier childhood behaviors he has long since overcome due to being overwhelmed with fear, anger and growing sexual impulses under stress

Example: Bedwetting, refusing to leave their bed and engage in normal


Express thoughts or feelings the person feels incapable of otherwise expressing to release pressure and feel flamer and peaceful once again.

Example: Instead of saying, “I’m angry with you,” a person who acts out may instead throw a book at the person, or punch a hole through a wall, Self-injury


Loses track of time, person, usual thought processes and memories, and instead finds another representation of their self and live in a different world that is not cluttered with thoughts, feelings or memories that are unbearable. in order to continue in the moment.


Parts of oneself are separated from awareness of other parts and behaving as if one had separate sets of values.

Example: An honest person who cheats on their income tax return and keeps their two value systems distinct and un-integrated while remaining unconscious of the cognitive dissonance.


Without insight and acknowledgement of one’s own motivations and feelings, one misattributes undesired thoughts, feelings or impulses onto another person who does not have those thoughts or feelings when they are considered unacceptable for the person to hold or express.

Example: You may be angry at their significant other for not listening, when in fact it is you who does not listen.


You are incapable of expressing unwanted or dangerous thoughts, negative feelings or impulses, so convert and express them (overly) into their opposite.

Example: You are angry with your boss and would like to quit your job but you turn overly kind and generous toward your boss and express a desire to work there forever.

Less Primitive, More Mature Defense Mechanisms


You unconsciously block unacceptable thoughts, feelings and impulses with little control over them, and store them into repressed memories that cannot play back but be filtered and even altered by your life experiences, even by what you’ve read or viewed.


You redirect thoughts feelings and impulses directed at one person or object, but taken out upon another person or object when you cannot express their feelings in a safe manner to the person they are directed at. It is misapplication the create trouble to other harmless people or objects.

Example: You get angry at his boss, but can’t express your anger to him for fear of being fired, so you instead comes home and kicks the dog or starts an argument with his wife.


Overemphasis on thinking while facing an unacceptable impulse, situation or behavior without employing any emotions whatsoever to help mediate and place the thoughts into an emotional, human context rather than deal with the painful associated emotions

Example: You has just been given a terminal medical diagnosis, instead of expressing their sadness and grief, focuses instead on the details of all possible fruitless medical procedures.


Put something into a different light or offering a different explanation for one’s perceptions or behaviors in the face of a changing reality.

Example: a woman who starts dating a man she really, really likes and thinks the world of is suddenly dumped by the man for no reason. She reframes the situation in her mind with, “I suspected he was a loser all along.”


Try to “whip out” the damage from an previous unconscious behavior or thought, which is unacceptable or hurtful, with the opposite ones.

Example: after realizing you just insulted your significant other unintentionally, you might spend then next hour praising their beauty, charm and intellect.

Mature Defense Mechanisms


Refocus the unacceptable or harmful impulses, thoughts and emotions into more productive, acceptable (even humorous and imaginative) ones to channel energy and reduce intensity that otherwise would be lost or used in a manner that might cause the person more anxiety.

For instance, when a person has sexual impulses they would like not to act upon, they may instead focus on rigorous exercise.


Counterbalancing perceived weaknesses by emphasizing strength in other arenas. By emphasizing and focusing on one’s strengths, a person is recognizing they cannot be strong at all things and in all areas in their lives. This helps reinforce a person’s self-esteem and self-image.

Example: “I may not know how to cook, but I can sure do the dishes!,”


Balance where they speak up for themselves, express their opinions or needs in a respectful yet firm manner, and listen when they are being spoken to.

Sources: http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-defense-mechanisms/0001251


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