Being Well Podcast: Psychological Defenses: How to Understand (and Change) Your Mind and Behavior
June 24, 2024

Psychological defenses are subconscious strategies we use to protect ourselves from uncomfortable emotions, and they exert a hidden power over our behavior. From denial and repression to projection and rationalization, Dr. Rick and Forrest explore on this episode of The Being Well Podcast how these defenses shape our actions, influence our relationships, and affect our overall well-being.

They start with the function and structure of most defenses, before giving a few simple examples. Rick then dives into the role of defenses in psychoanalytic theory, their role in managing self-worth and shame, and what we can do to become less defensive over time. They close with practical strategies for working with our defenses, including a brief discussion of what we can do to help other people with their defenses.

You can watch this episode on YouTube.

Key Topics:

  • 0:00: Introduction
  • 2:30: Psychological and historical factors influencing psychological defensiveness
  • 8:00: Some examples of unconscious anxiety bubbling up
  • 12:00: Repression, regression, projection, reaction formation, and sublimation
  • 16:55: An overview of Freud’s developmental model of the personality
  • 24:10: A few examples of how our defenses manifest
  • 33:40: Consciousness, competence, and joining the defense
  • 44:00: Navigating shame and guilt
  • 50:15: Distress tolerance
  • 57:15: Social connection, and finding healthy outlets
  • 1:00:20: When and how to approach others about their defensiveness
  • 1:10:45: Recap

Forrest is now writing on Substack, check out his work there.

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Join Dr. Rick and Forrest Hanson every week on the Being Well Podcast for lively and thought-provoking conversation and practical tips for being happier, building inner strengths, and getting the most out of life.

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