M is for Mechanisms (the Defense kind)

MWe have our ways.

We all do. Ways to defend ourselves against whatever threatens our sense of who we are or who we believe we need to be. We have ways to protect ourselves from having to come face to face with our biggest fears.

Best to avoid any of that at all costs.

First, we all have what are called Idealizations, statements of our idealized selves.

One: I am good and right.

Two: I am helpful.

Three: I am successful.

Four: I am authentic.

Five: I am knowledgeable

Six: I am loyal

Seven: I am okay.

Eight: I am strong.

Nine: I am harmonious.

I want to write the words, ‘damn it’ or ‘come hell or high water’ after each of those statements because that’s the energy behind it for most of us.

So we use Defense Mechanisms, (mechanisms of defense in honor of the letter ‘M’) to protect ourselves from having those beliefs questioned—by ourselves or anyone else.

Very Important Point: No one has a monopoly on any of these defense mechanisms (DMs.)   Our egos take all kinds of liberty to use any trick that will help defend against the monsters under our beds. However, like everything else in the Ennea-World, our personalities tend to have a favorite.

The terms for these DMs are big and Freudian, so I’ll try to use regular people words to describe them.

Defense Mechanism Meaning
Ones Reaction Formation Acting the opposite of how they feel to avoid looking wrong or bad. Ones may judge their feelings as appropriate or inappropriate, so they may behave differently than how they feel because they’ve decided their feelings are wrong.
Twos Repression Hiding information about themselves from themselves to avoid their own feelings of neediness which would get in their way of being needed.
Threes Identification Identifying with people they want to look like to avoid looking like a failure or to increase their ability to look successful.   It can become difficult for them to tease apart who they are from who they are emulating.
Fours Introjection Taking other people’s negative qualities inside themselves and adopting them as their own. They do this unconsciously because of a belief that it is easier to control and deal with their own self-hatred than criticism from others.
Fives Isolation Isolating themselves from their feelings and from other people to maintain control or distance from things that threaten to overwhelm them.
Sixes Projection Assuming other people feel things that in fact, they are unconsciously feeling themselves. They ascribe these feelings onto other people because the feelings themselves are unwanted or anxiety-producing.
Sevens Rationalization Explaining their behavior or feelings in a way that puts a positive or acceptable spin on them. They use this to avoid dealing with painful feelings or selfish behavior.
Eights Denial Ignore or pretend that they aren’t experiencing something that might make them feel anxious or weak.
Nines Narcotization Falling asleep to oneself—numbing out to avoid anxiety or internal distress through repetitive or mindless activities or actual sleep.


Do you relate to one or more of those Defense Mechanisms? Do you use the DM of your type more than the others? I’d love to hear!

4 thoughts on “M is for Mechanisms (the Defense kind)

  1. I have used them all. Self preservation leads to lots of defending and on all fronts. Especially the repression of the 2 and isolation of the five. Makes sense as they are my “go to” numbers. The motivation for the use of DM is different.The use of repression to stay strong when I feel needy, and isolation to recharge and strategize as well as hide out. I can pretty much run down the list of DM’s and recognize their use in my life to maintain the fortress. The denial of the 8 is the one that has the meat and that impacts my life the most, especially denying the experience of feeling vulnerable and identifying aggression as source of anxiety and loss.
    Not much fun to look at but such valuable insight into who and why we are how we are.


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