Denial – Refusing to admit to yourself that something is real (e.g., not believing the doctor when she tells you some particularly bad news about your health).
Distortion – Changing the reality of a situation to suit your needs (e.g., thinking that your boyfriend cheated on you because he was scared of commitment).
Passive Aggression – Indirectly acting out your aggression (e.g., purposely parking in your co-worker’s parking spot as retribution for a previous dispute).
Repression – Covering up feelings or emotions instead of coming to terms with them (e.g., being unable to recall the details of a car crash you were involved in – the brain sometimes purposely “loses” these memories to help you cope).
Sublimination – Converting negative feelings into positive actions (e.g., cleaning the house whenever you are angry about something).
Dissociation – Substantially but temporarily changing your personality to avoid feeling emotion (e.g., trying to “keep yourself together” at a funeral for the benefit of others).
Defense mechanisms are not always unhealthy. In fact, some defense mechanisms are essential to coping with stressful events. For example, humor is an example of a positive defense mechanism that people employ to deal with stress in life. Using humor in a difficult situation allows you to get your feelings out into the open and also brings pleasure to others by making them laugh.