defense mechanism

noun
1.
Physiology. the defensive reaction of an organism, as against a pathogenic microorganism.
2.
Psychology. an unconscious process, as denial, that protects an individual from unacceptable or painful ideas or impulses.

Origin:
1890–95

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

defense mechanism n.

  1. Any of a variety of usually unconscious mental processes used to protect oneself from shame, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, conflict, or other unacceptable feelings or thoughts, and including behaviors such as repression, projection, denial, and rationalization.

  2. See immunological mechanism.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

defense mechanism definition


In psychology, a Freudian term referring to an unconscious avoidance of something that produces anxiety or some other unpleasant emotion. For example, someone who blots out the memory of a terrible accident is using a defense mechanism. Regression and sublimation are common defense mechanisms.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Turtles have a natural defense mechanism that causes them to hide in their
  shells.
It's an appealing defense mechanism that let's one hold firm to one's
  principles in the midst of defeat.
In the case of malaria, however, that defense mechanism may backfire.
Researchers report a new potential target for drugs that may help unveil an
  innate human defense mechanism against the disease.
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