As we discussed in the blog posts on the Ego, the Ego gravitates more towards the voice of the Id and getting its needs met. In order to suppress the voices of reality and the Super Ego, the Ego employs a multitude of defense mechanisms that help the Ego justify its behavior. Vaillant categorized the defense mechanisms into three levels:
In this week’s blog I’ll be reviewing the pathological defense mechanisms. These defense mechanisms serve to alter reality in order to help the person cope with an unpleasant situation or completely ignore reality to get needs met; taken to their far end, these defense mechanisms allow a person to completely disconnect from reality. Individuals who frequently employ these techniques may appear irrational (e.g., what they are perceiving/saying has no grounds in reality that an objective observer can see/understand) or insane (e.g., the person’s responses are so disconnected from reality that that the person appears to be operating outside of it).
The pathological mechanisms include:
- Delusional projection
- Extreme projection
- Superiority complex
- Inferiority complex
Tomorrow I will go into depth about how each of these mechanisms manifests in therapy.