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Denial and Displacement Defense Mechanism
According to Freud, the ego needs to employ a host of defense mechanisms which work within the limits of the unconscious realm with the sole purpose of warding off feelings that are unwanted while making the individual to feel better about themselves as well as their actions. Freud’s argument rationalizing the reason why individuals use the defense mechanisms indicate that they are applied as a response to a demanding id or superego and when one feels threatened (Cramer, 2012). According to Freud, the nine defense mechanism that an individual can exhibit include denial, repression, regression, displacement, projection, reaction formation, intellectualization, rationalization and sublimation. This paper seeks to review denial and displacement defense mechanism with examples from movie characters.
One of the defense mechanisms an individual may adopt is denial. Under this form of defense mechanism, the person blocks external events from their own awareness with some extreme cases leading to failure to experience the events as they occur. The anxiety that is experienced under the denial defense mechanism results from the failure of the ego in mediating the between the id and the superego (Hall, 2016). The ego, which serves to generate and guide the process of logical thinking which mediates the desire to seek pleasure and the superego which plays the role of providing a moral standing, seeks to reduce the emerging conflict (Diehl et al., 2014). Once it fails to mediate between the id and the superego, the ego results in reducing the anxiety by using a defense mechanism which in this case is the denial of various events (Cramer, 2012). The defense mechanism protects the individual in traumatic events thus relieving the anxiety as it prevents the traumatic situations from affecting the wellbeing of the person concerned.
The Buzz Lightyear character from the film Toy Story by Pixar is an example of an application of the defense mechanism. When Buzz is insulted for being just a mere plastic toy, he attempts to attack his opponents with a laser torch which he knew would cause no harm. In one situation, a monster toy ridicules him of not being able to fly, Buzz uses his laser torch and feigns denial that he does not realize that it is not having its desired effect. Through some scenes, Buzz gets lost and starts wandering without knowing his direction and fails to acknowledge that he was lost. Buzz could have handled his anxiety of being ridiculed by spending the time to understand the opponents and explaining himself so that they could understand each other.
Theory Of Displacement
Another form of defense mechanism is displacement which entails avoidance of unpleasant feelings and related emotions by directing them to the wrong party. Displacement mainly occurs towards a weaker target since the initial and the rightful target for the emotions is considered as threatening (Hall, 2016). According to the theory of displacement, once a person is wronged by a certain party, the natural reaction of the id is to revenge or punish them based on the mistake (Cramer, 2012). The ego, in this case, realizes that the person who has made the mistake could be a threat. The ego thus identifies another target that is weaker and directs the anxiety or anger towards it as the threat is lower.
A good example of the use of displacement as a form of defense can be seen in the character Damon in the series Vampire Diaries. When Damon is unable to beat Catherine, one of the vampires in the series, since she is much stronger, he goes home and vents out the frustrations on his younger brother. Damon even sinks further to this blood thirst and ends up killing many people to relieve his anxiety. The best way of Damon to deal with his anxiety would have been to talk through issues with Catherine so that they could have a common understanding.
Cramer, P. (2012). The development of defense mechanisms: Theory, research, and assessment. Springer Science & Business Media.
Diehl, M., Chui, H., Hay, E. L., Lumley, M. A., Grühn, D., & Labouvie-Vief, G. (2014). Change in coping and defense mechanisms across adulthood: Longitudinal findings in a European American sample. Developmental psychology, 50(2), 634-648.
Hall, C. S. (2016). A primer of Freudian psychology. Pickle Partners Publishing.
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