October 22, 2007

Sublimation, altruism, suppression, anticipation, humor

Level 4 Defense Mechanisms (Mature) - are common among most "healthy" adults and are considered the most "mature". Many of them have their origins in the "immature" level, but have been honed by the individual to optimize his/her success in life and relationships. Use of these defenses gives the user pleasure and feelings of mastery. For the user, these defenses help them to integrate many conflicting emotions and thoughts and still be effective; and for the beholder their use by someone is viewed as a virtue. They include:
  • Sublimation - transformation of negative emotions or instincts into positive actions, behavior, or emotion (EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE, EXAMPLES, art, sports, hobbies, or even one's choice of profession)
  • Altruism - constructive service to others that brings pleasure and personal satisfaction (EXAMPLE)
  • Suppression - the conscious decision to delay paying attention to an emotion or need in order to cope with the present reality; able to later access the emotion and accept it. (EXAMPLE)
  • Anticipation - realistic planning for future discomfort (EXAMPLE)
  • Humor - overt expression of ideas and feelings (especially those that are unpleasant to focus on or too terrible to talk about) that gives pleasure to others; (humor lets you call a spade a spade, while "wit" is actually a form of displacement) (EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE, EXAMPLE)
Research on the use of mature defenses (Level 4) has shown that they lead to: 1) excellent adjustment as an adult, 2) happiness(by self-report), 3) job satisfaction, 4) rich friendships, 5) fewer medical hospitalizations over life, 6) better overall health;and 7) a lower incidence of mental illness.
OTOH, use of immature Defenses (Levels 1, 2, 3) is related to: 1) poor adjustment as an adult, 2) higher divorce rates and marital discord, 3) poor friendship patterns, 4) higher incidence of mental illness, 5) greater number of sick leave days taken, 6) poorer health generally.
You can see from some of the examples of these defenses I have chosen, that defense mechanisms are not limited to individuals. Societies also sometimes need to protect their self-images and cope with events in the world. They need to explain why their society is failing; why the ideologies or religions they embrace aren't successful in relieving their misery; why they are not as important in the world as they feel they should be, etc. etc.
Societies, like individuals, can adopt mature defenses and deal with reality; or they can deny reality and look elsewhere for the source of their problems. Many countries, like individuals, prefer to put the blame for their own failures onto an outside source, since that is safer for the self-image. A "healthy" country, like a healthy individual will evaluate the facts and utilize mature defenses to cope with and change the situation they find themselves in. They are not afraid of their aggressive impulses because those impulses are reigned in by reason and not indulged in lightly. When necessary, healthy societies look inward. When necessary, they focus outward... Diagnosed by Dr. Sanity @ 10:30 AM

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