Defense Mechanisms

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Most of Freud’s patients experienced neurotic anxiety, an intense negative emotional experience caused due to irrational impulses emerging from the id that signals danger to the ego. To reduce this unpleasant experience, Freud says, his patients developed defense mechanisms to conceal its source from themselves and others.

Repression is the most common defense mechanism by which we simply ignore or push back painful memories or feelings into the unconscious. Though defense mechanisms help keep unpleasant feelings at bay, if overused, a huge amount of psychic energy is required to keep them functioning, which leads to neurosis.