Psychological Adaptive Mechanisms: Ego Defense Recognition in Practice and Research

ISBN : 9780199794492

Thomas P. Beresford
338 Pages
194 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jun 2012
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This book will demonstrate how to use novel, systematic method for recognizing psychological adaptive mechanisms (known in psychoanalytic theory as ego defenses) in clinical encounters. This clinical method is based in published theoretical and empirical studies of these mechanisms over the past 14 years as well as working with successive classes of mental health trainees of varying disciplines at the University of Colorado. The result is an approach that trainees both apprehend and find useful. This work will offer the mental health disciplines, and even wider audiences, a platform both for 1) clinical use in everyday practice, 2) continuing clinical studies of adaptive psychology as well as 3) direct application of psychological adaptive mechanisms theory in clinical research that will improve the diagnosis and treatment of persons with mental or emotional disorders. This an important empirical model for understanding how humans adapt to the stressful experiences of their lives. They have developmental, biological, and evolutionary significance and all of these will be discussed in the book. Psychological Adaptive Mechanisms are observable behaviors that range on a developmental hierarchy from the Primitive defenses of normal early childhood and of major mental illness in adults, through the Mature defenses of fully functioning adulthood. They also serve to limit and to direct the human anxiety response, giving the "fight or flight" reaction to threat many more than those two classically described behavioral options.These mechanisms are likely transduced by the brain and, in providing wider ranges of adaptive behavior, most probably reflect an evolutionary selection towards greater flexibility of adaptation.


Chapter 1: Humans Adapt
Chapter 2: The Clinical Model
Chapter 3: The Clinical Method
Chapter 4: Denial
Chapter 5: Avoidance/ Distortion
Chapter 6: Psychotic Projection
Chapter 7: Acting Out
Chapter 8: Passive Aggression
Chapter 9: Hypochondriasis
Chapter 10: Schizoid Fantasy
Chapter 11: Neurotic Projection
Chapter 12: Repression
Chapter 13: Intellectualization, or Isolation of Affect
Chapter 14: Dissociation
Chapter 15: Displacement
Chapter 16: Reaction Formation
Chapter 17: Suppression
Chapter 18: Anticipation
Chapter 19: Altruism
Chapter 20: Sublimation
Chapter 21: Humor
Chapter 22: Clinical and Practical Uses

About the author: 

Dr. Beresford is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Trained in psychiatry at The Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School, he has focused his clinical and scientific career on the psychiatric problems that medical and surgical patients encounter, whether in adjusting to illness or in returning to normal brain functioning. His interest in psychological adaptive mechanisms comes from applying scientific methods to clinically relevant human behavior and brain function. He has developed both clinical and teaching methods to understand and use adaptive mechanism recognition with greater, and more practical, precision. Dr. Beresford is internationally known for his work in alcoholism and liver transplantation where he developed a clinical method for evaluating alcohol dependent patients for this life saving procedure.

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