D efense mechanisms and coping. Prof. Dr. DOINA COZMAN. The term “ defense ” was first used by Sigmund Freud in 1894 in the writing “ Defense psychoneuroses ” .
Prof. Dr. DOINA COZMAN
Confrontation/avoidance is a conceptual pair that provides the vector of coping:
By combining the vector of the coping mechanism with its nature, Miclea suggests a more comprehensive classification of coping mechanisms:
After the primary appraisal of the stimulus, defensive denial with its cognitive processes prevents the development of the mental representation of the stimulus as trauma. It is a forceful and effective defense that shields the subject when overwhelming traumatic perception occurs
Strategies that entail avoiding the retrieval of traumatic information in working memory, generating selective retrieval with partial or complete blocking of traumatic memory. Important: the internal representation of trauma has taken place, but its access in consciousness is blocked.
Repression may be conscious or not:
The trauma is acknowledged within consciousness, but its negative valence and the responsibility is assigned to more or less defined external factors (fate, destiny, the others). Projecting personal shortcomings or failures upon others allows a positive reappraisal of negative individual features; the subject thus elludes self-blame and the distress of responsibility, while self-esteem and self-image remain unaffected.
Positive reappraisal of the stressful situation and disfunctional coping behaviour. Personal responsibility and shortcomings are owned up to, but are reappraised and justified, in order to buffer emotional impact. The justifications are distorted theoretical constructs meant to expiate the individual in front of themselves and others. It should not be erroneously understood as ‘explanation’, which is the search of the accurate causality chain that generated a specific situation.
Thus, intellectualization consists of cognitive strategies for the appraisal of traumatic information in the context of dissociating it from its emotional consequences.