Projection: Attributing one’s unacceptable feelings or desires to someone else. For example, if a bully constantly ridicules a peer about insecurities, the bully might be projecting his own struggle with self-esteem onto the other person.
Denial: Refusing to recognize or acknowledge real facts or experiences that would lead to anxiety. For instance, someone with substance use disorder might not be able to clearly see his problem.
Regression: Reverting to the behaviour or emotions of an earlier developmental stage.
Rationalization: Justifying a mistake or problematic feeling with seemingly logical reasons or explanations.
Displacement: Redirecting an emotional reaction from the rightful recipient to another person altogether. For example, if a manager screams at an employee, the employee doesn’t scream back—but the employee may yell at her partner later that night.
Reaction Formation: Behaving or expressing the opposite of one’s true feelings. For instance, a man who feels insecure about his masculinity might act overly aggressive.
Sublimation: Channelling sexual or unacceptable urges into a productive outlet, such as work or a hobby.
Intellectualization: Focusing on the intellectual rather than emotional consequences of a situation. For example, if a roommate unexpectedly moved out, the other person might conduct a detailed financial analysis rather than discussing their hurt feelings.
Compartmentalization: Separating components of one’s life into different categories to prevent conflicting emotions.