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Understanding Defense Mechanisms.

Understanding defense mechanisms is an important part of psychotherapy. In this article, we trace the history of the concept of defense, from its origin with Freud to current views. The issue of defense as an unconscious mechanism is examined. The question of whether defenses are pathological, as well as their relation to pathology, is discussed. The effect of psychotherapy on the use of defenses, and their relation to a therapeutic alliance is explored. A series of empirical research studies that demonstrate the functioning of defense mechanisms and that support the theory is presented. Research also shows that as part of normal development, different defenses emerge at different developmental periods, and that gender differences in defense use occur.

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