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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