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behavior directed to protection of the individual from injury.
character defense any character trait, e.g., a mannerism, attitude, or affectation, which serves as a defense mechanism.
insanity defense a legal concept that a person cannot be convicted of a crime if he lacked criminal responsibility by reason of insanity at the time of commission of the crime.
defense mechanism in psychology, an unconscious mental process or coping pattern that lessens the anxiety associated with a situation or internal conflict and protects the person from mental discomfort. In the theory of psychoanalysis, the ego, following the reality principle, conforms to the demands of the outside world, but the id (repressed unconscious), following the pleasure principle, pursues immediate gratification of desires and reduction of psychic tension. The superego (conscience or morality) may take either side. Defense mechanisms develop in order to control impulses or feelings that lead to inner conflicts, to reach compromises between conflicting impulses, and to reduce inner tensions. They help to manage or avoid anxiety, aggression, hostility, resentment, and frustration. Defense mechanisms are not pathological in themselves; they can be a means of dealing with unbearable situations. Among the most common defense mechanisms are denial, displacement, identification, projection, rationalization, reaction-formation, repression, and sublimation.
defense reaction a mental reaction that shuts out from consciousness ideas not acceptable to the ego. See also defense mechanism.
A mental response whose purpose (according to classical psychoanalysis) is to protect the ego.