The American Journal of Psychoanalysis

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 1–26 | Cite as

Psychological Defense Mechanisms: A New Perspective

  • Brad Bowins


Approaching psychological defense mechanisms from the perspective of an evolved strategy, it is proposed that there are two basic templates—dissociation and cognitive distortions. Frequently conceived of as pathological, these psychological phenomena actually constitute overlapping spectrums with milder manifestations being common and highly functional, and more severe variants less common and typically dysfunctional. Dissociation provides the capacity to adaptively detach from disturbing emotional states, and cognitive distortions place a positive ego-enhancing spin on experience. Most of the classical defense mechanisms described in the psychoanalytic literature represent a form of cognitive distortion with some containing strong elements of dissociation.

defense mechanisms dissociation cognitive distortion psychosis emotions antisocial behavior 


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© Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TorontoCanada

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