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The key early figure in the development of psychology, Sigmund Freud, identified a series of "defence mechanisms," by which the human mind isolates its host from pain. Freud's work was built upon by his followers, and this page provides a simplistic list of commonly-cited defence mechanisms.

Conscious processes which enable people to remain mentally healthy and capable of maintaining relationships.

Neurotic defence mechanisms sacrifice long-term emotional stability for short-term gains in coping, which can negatively effect interpersonal relationships.


Common in adults, immature defence mechanisms can cause serious misinterpretations of reality and, when dominant in a person, render them difficult to build healthy relationships with.

Pathological defence mechanisms drastically rearrange reality in one's mind. They predominate in dreams, early childhood and in psychotic states.

Sir Graham