Defensive Styles of Thinking to Prevent Dreaded States of Mind

  • Mardi J. Horowitz


Among the most overwhelming or unpleasant human experiences are ­undermodulated states: mortal terror, darkest despair, towering hostility, and ­searing shame and guilt. A shift into states that avoid such experiences is ­accomplished by defensive control processes. The most common of these are inhibition of potential ideas, blunting of representations of emotionality, and distortions of meanings. These defensive maneuvers can be observed in short, medium, and long orders of attunement to the mind of another. This chapter focuses on short order observations, as witnessed in communications with another and as modeled intrapsychically by empathy for the mind of another. By understanding what is happening, here and now in a therapy hour, a clinician may realize how to act to reduce not only short order control processes that are ­maladaptive, but by so doing gradually modify longer order patterns of ­characterologically-based defensiveness.


Personality Disorder Role Reversal Short Order Close Listening Defense Style 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California-San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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