defense mechanism


noun

Physiology. the defensive reaction of an organism, as against a pathogenic microorganism.
Psychology. an unconscious process, as denial, that protects an individual from unacceptable or painful ideas or impulses.

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Origin of defense mechanism

First recorded in 1890–95
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Medical definitions for defense mechanism

defense mechanism

n.

Any of a variety of usually unconscious mental processes used to protect oneself from shame, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, conflict, or other unacceptable feelings or thoughts, and including behaviors such as repression, projection, denial, and rationalization.
immunological mechanism
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Cultural definitions for defense mechanism

defense mechanism

In psychology, a Freudian term referring to an unconscious avoidance of something that produces anxiety or some other unpleasant emotion. For example, someone who blots out the memory of a terrible accident is using a defense mechanism. Regression and sublimation are common defense mechanisms.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.