Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford


  • Vera BékésEmail author
  • Yocheved Ayden Ferstenberg
  • J. Christopher Perry
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1939-1



Compartmentalization is a defense mechanism in which an individual separates various aspects of the self (for example, beliefs, social roles, emotions, cognitions) and can only access one of these aspects at a given time. This separation allows to have conflicting ideas or self-concepts without experiencing tension from the contradiction.


Compartmentalization has come to refer to various processes in the literature but is most commonly described as a form of dissociation. This conceptualization stems from Pierre Janet’s description (see Van der Hart and Horst 1989), who, in contrast to the formerly held general view of consciousness as a unitary system, posited that an individual may develop different states of consciousness as a defense mechanism against painful or traumatic emotional experiences. These dissociated states appear as distinct from...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vera Békés
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yocheved Ayden Ferstenberg
    • 1
  • J. Christopher Perry
    • 3
  1. 1.Ferkauf Graduate School of PsychologyYeshiva UniversityBronxUSA
  2. 2.School of PsychologyLaval UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryMcGill University at the Jewish General HospitalMontrealCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Chris Ditzfeld
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA