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Regression (Defense Mechanism)


When regression is used as a defense mechanism, individuals cope with stressors by acting in a childish, immature, or age-inappropriate manner, that is, they regress to earlier developmental stages, such as when it is normal to have excessive dependence or temper tantrums.


Chronic use of regression may lead to persistent avoidance of the hardships that a mature problem resolution would entail and to a great extent, the awareness thereof. Because regressing to cope with stressors is very likely ineffective in most cases, this defense must be generally seen as maladaptive. Regression might be strongly correlated with doubt, because it makes individuals too dependent on others to be assertive and make decisions easily (Weinstock 1967). However, sometimes regressions can be adaptive and make part of more mature personalities, such as in playfulness and creative imagination. These adaptive processes have been known as regression in service of the ego or ego...

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Correspondence to Rui Miguel Costa .

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Costa, R.M. (2020). Regression (Defense Mechanism). In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

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