2Sigmund Freud introduced the idea of defense mechanisms in his early work. He described them as mechanisms patients use to avoid painful experiences. Freud changed his position upon introducing the structural model of personality. Defense mechanisms are an essential part of the psychoanalytic theory (Cramer 2015). The id, ego, and superego, are three concepts Freud used to explain the functions of the mind. He explained that the id represents primitive instincts; experiences create the ego, and help us with learning to identify our own identities from others. Just as the ego derives from the id, the super-ego is a derivative of the ego, it evolves as we learn to interact with our parents (Robbins 2012). The most widely known defense mechanisms are; denial, displacement, identification, projection, rationalization, reaction formation, regression, repression, and repression sublimation (Robbins 2012). Anna Freud, continued to study defense mechanisms, and made further advancements. Defense mechanisms protect the ego from both internal and external harm. Otto Fenichel’s theory is that defense mechanisms are not just a product of natural instincts, and sexual drives, but are necessities that provide security during loss (Cramer 2015). Max uses repression, identification, and displacement as coping mechanisms to the internal and external environment. Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, and the occasional bedwetting are physical manifestations from repressing unpleasant feelings, thoughts, and experiences driven out of the ego, to the unconscious (Milton 2011). He uses identification as a means to emulate the behavior, character, or personality of others (Robbins 2012). The rough play with his genitalia is his way of identifying with the sexual abuse he experienced by Sam, hismother’s boyfriend. Max is taking on the behavior of his aggressor; this is identification, or “identification with the aggressor” Max has displaced his attachment with his mother to other people, and objects (Milton 2011).
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