Dysfunctional Mechanisms & Understanding 7 Common Types

Dysfunctional defense mechanisms Defense mechanismsDysfunctional behaviors may manifest as harmful defense mechanisms.

Can you think of any common behaviors in your family that may have really been defense mechanisms instead?


In this article, I will discuss this concept a bit further.

Defense mechanisms are tactics and tools used to avoid something that is either emotionally or psychologically too difficult to handle directly. Defense mechanisms serve to maintain dysfunction in a family because of the passive-aggressive nature of them. Things don’t get better until someone in the family begins to objectively evaluate the status of the communication that defense mechanisms become important.

What are the defense mechanisms?

Defense mechanisms can take many forms and often come in the form of abusive reactions to unpleasant reality. Defense mechanisms include gas lighting, stonewalling, displacement, sublimation, ignoring and minimizing, refusal and unnecessary opposition, substance abuse/use and compensation.

When I worked in a juvenile delinquency program several years ago, I saw these mechanisms at work. I recognized that many of the families associated with these youths hid behind the wall of defenses. These defenses resulted in their children becoming another statistic in the criminal justice system.


Can defense mechanisms be fixed?

Fixing defense mechanisms will require cooperation and a deep desire to change in everyone within the family. It is also going to require patience, self-exploration, education, and family psychotherapy.

In this video, I discuss and explain the defense mechanisms a further.