A Behavioural Economic Approach to the Defense Mechanisms

A Behavioural Economic Approach to the Defense Mechanisms

Ainslie, George. “A behavioral economic approach to the defense mechanisms: Freud’s energy theory revisited.” Social Science Information 21.6 (1982): 735-779.

The article talks about the various processes that ego utilizes to handle life challenges. Freud in his study highlighted the interaction of defenses and drives and likened them to electric circuits. The two processes are perceived as goal oriented. Therefore, the author saw the necessity of tracking unpleased and pleasure abstracts related to them.

The author provides an explanation of Freud’s view pertaining the defense mechanism. According to the author, some mechanisms change people’s mental process. This is applicable in responding to any motivational conflict, such as dealing with a loss of a loved one. Ainslie (736) argues that the traditional psychoanalytic perspective is that the defense mechanisms emerge when someone grows up; hence protecting them from infantile id.

The consciousness perception and behavior as a pathway that is present in fluid equilibrium. There are two motivations linked to ego defense: hence avoiding unpleasant perceptions such as pain and avoidance of rewarding behaviors, which could result in unpleasant views. Ainslie (738), the avoidance of impulses is defined as a process that is unique from unpleasant perceptions. A person can adapt a benign nature to enable him to avoid a harsh treatment from a young brother. This is referred to as a defense mechanism.

The author talks about complex defenses. These include denial, reversal of effect, controls, repressions, reaction formation, and isolation of affect. Ainslie (740) adds that simple pre-commitment is not the same as impulse control that is known as willpower. Therefore, a choice influences future actions. Ainslie (743) also talks about compulsive defense, which depends on the interdependent choice that can result in ego defense. This kind of defense can be compulsive in nature. This mechanism explains several compulsive symptoms. The concept was much detailed in the earlier explanations, which were drawn from the learning theory.

According to Ainslie (759), if a person is focused on restrictive rules, the challenges will be diagnosed as compulsive. Ainslie (760) posits that undoing can be of great practical assistance in forestalling different impulses, and at times it can be inspired by major defensive purposes. Hence, undergoing through the motions of avoiding an impulse can be due to the defensive purpose, and this can result in self-punishment. It can be assumed that the impulsive behavior might not have occurred. There is also the reaction formation. This involves cultivating any form of emotional process. This minimizes impulse motivation; an aspect which would result in compulsive timid in a person. In the real sense, Freud did not state the reaction formation as being specific compulsive neurosis (Ainslie 760).

Another device that controls emotions is the isolation of affect. However, this device does not cause legalistic style. Nonetheless, an individual who controls himself using private rules should be an advocate of isolation and not repression.  This acts as a supplement to one’s defensive strategy. According to Ainslie (768), repressions, which is the avoidance of information and not the effect linked to it, can influence the policing of one’s rules. On the other hand, avoidance of effect might not initiate any impact on the person.

Ainslie (768) asserts that isolation of affect, reaction formation and regression might have compulsive regression. In most cases, health patients report ideal compulsive defenses. This is because no will support the defensive style. The operatives, which provides compulsive defenses both their symptomatic sides effects and their power causes private side bets.

According to Ainslie (758), private side bets are not present in the compulsive neurosis only.  He adds that only compulsive individuals exaggerate the entire process, hence makes it visible to the observer. Compulsiveness is defined as a pure exaggeration of the normal functions and activities of ego that forms part of the secondary thinking process.

Other defense mechanisms define cases associated with private side betting as well as their side effects.  The private rules can be redefined using sublimation or displacement. This can compromise the associated reward, and hence influence how one deals with loss, and still harbor the beautiful memories. There is also the element of projection. This mechanism is perceived as a strategy for avoiding the unpleasant perceptions that e linked to the motives of a person. However, according to some scholar, the projection can act as a repression’s auxiliary form. Private side bets can also be a motivating force, which individuals can view as external to the present self (Ainslie 765).

In conclusion, the author explores the defense mechanisms nature, and how various impulses arise from them. In most cases, persons avoid pain associated with loss. Consequently, identification, regression, sublimation, displacement, introjection, regression, and projection make people defensive processes. It is possible for the private side bets to stop impulses. Defense mechanisms can be used for different for purposes and not only for impulse control. The defense mechanisms can also be maladaptive. This is in response to how a child learns to deal with an issue such as grief without losing the memorable moments of loved one.  This is a clear indication of the economic approach towards defense mechanism.


Work Cited

Ainslie, George. “A behavioral economic approach to the defense mechanisms: Freud’s energy theory revisited.” Social Science Information 21.6 (1982): 735-779.

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