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Cognitive Mechanisms

 

Explanations > Behaviors > Coping > Cognitive Mechanisms

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

  

We cope with difficulties in various ways. Some are more positive than others. Here are various mental mechanisms that help us cope.

  • Aim Inhibition: lowering sights to what seems more achievable.
  • Altruism: Helping others to help self.
  • Avoidance: mentally or physically avoiding something that causes distress.
  • Compartmentalization: separating conflicting thoughts into separated compartments.
  • Conversion: subconscious conversion of stress into physical symptoms.
  • Denial: refusing to acknowledge that an event has occurred.
  • Displacement: shifting of intended action to a safer target.
  • Dissociation: separating oneself from parts of your life.
  • Fantasy: escaping reality into a world of possibility.
  • Idealization: playing up the good points and ignoring limitations of things desired.
  • Identification: copying others to take on their characteristics.
  • Intellectualization: avoiding emotion by focusing on facts and logic.
  • Introjection: Bringing things from the outer world into the inner world.
  • Passive Aggression: avoiding refusal by passive avoidance.
  • Projection: seeing your own unwanted feelings in other people.
  • Rationalization: creating logical reasons for bad behavior.
  • Reaction Formation: avoiding something by taking a polar opposite position.
  • Regression: returning to a child state to avoid problems.
  • Repression: subconsciously hiding uncomfortable thoughts.
  • Somatization: psychological problems turned into physical symptoms.
  • Suppression: consciously holding back unwanted urges.
  • Symbolization: turning unwanted thoughts into metaphoric symbols.
  • Trivializing: Making small what is really something big.

So what?

Mental mechanisms like this are sometimes deliberate and conscious and sometimes invisible to the person so they do not realize what is really happening. In the latter case it is difficult for a person to even begin to understand what is happening. A therapist or counsellor may be able to help them understand the inner processes and hence deliberately change how they think.

See also

Adaptive mechanisms, Anger

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