Defence Mechanisms

15th-anniversary blog post.

The source of the worst traumas that the members of a family can suffer is mainly psychological violence. This literary screenplay of a promotional video was initially designed as a version proposed for a campaign exercise against family violence. Its target was double: to draw attention to a danger occurring in the domestic area and to educate the target audiences on the defense mechanisms issue. As the psychological culture grows, the increase in the favorable attitude toward psychological advisers is also significant. For this work, written in April 2005, I was awarded the prize for the most original work in psychology at the National Conference on Psychology and Education Sciences on 12 May 2005.

Topic: domestic violence – the psychological component;

Target audience: married couples living in urban areas, aged 25-40, with average to high incomes, that have at least one child under their care;

Secondary audience (leverage audiences): NGOs, psychology practices;

Goal: becoming aware of the effects of tensions and accountability of the couple members;

Psychological axle: psychological needs;

Positioning: psychological education.

Definition: The defense mechanisms are subconscious reactions at a cognitive level, through which the subject avoids facing an awareness for which it is not ready. These occur in subtle forms, as improper reactions to outside stimuli through which emotions are expressed, but the fundamental needs are not met.

Reference book in the field: Mecanismele de aparare. Teorie si aspecte clinice (Defence mechanisms. Theory and clinical aspects), by Şerban Ionescu, Marie-Madeleine Jacquet, and Claude Lhote, Polirom Publishing House, 2007, Clinical psychology and psychotherapy Collection.

Known Romanian researchers in the field: Andreea Enciu and Carolina Stănculescu.



Inside. Evening. Dim bulb light. Crowded kitchen. The screen reads “DEFENCE MECHANISMS”, writing that moves on the unconscious spiral and disappears. The child is doing his homework (he is about 9 years old). Mother is doing the dishes. The child shuts the notebook. Father enters the room.

F: “I had a fight with my boss again today!”

C: “Father, I finished my homework! May I go outside and play football?”

F: “You are not going anywhere today! I am sick and tired of you fighting with all vagabonds who can’t communicate!” The screen reads now: “DISPLACEMENT”.

The child bows his head resignedly and sits on a chair.

C: “Ok…I don’t need it anymore” The screen reads: “REPRESSION

F: “Son, each time you go to the sports field, you come back with many bruises!” The screen reads: “RATIONALIZATION”.

The child runs away crying.

M: “You were never able to impose yourself!” The screen reads: “PROJECTION”

F: (forces a smile, sits down, although he is a pack of nerves) “Dear, what’s for dinner?! The screen reads: “REACTION FORMATION”.

A string of short frames follows, in which, on the one hand, the woman is caught in her need for affection (the mother has dark circles around her eyes), and the man is shown aggressively tearing the food he is biting.

The idea, according to which there is a negative emotional communication degenerating into psychical violence, under the form of a topic that can only be highlighted using close-ups, is expressed. The screen reads: “SUBLIMATION”.

Mother leaves. The child comes up with a composition that he shows to his father:

C: “Father, look at the beautiful composition I wrote!” The screen reads: “COMPENSATION”.

Father ignores him.

C: “Daddy, when I become like you….” The screen reads: “IDENTIFICATION”

C: “…I will fly a spaceship!” The screen reads: “FANTASM”

F: “Get out of here! I’m not playing anymore!” The screen reads: “REGRESSION”.

The video camera penetrates the child’s eye he starts crying.

The screen reads:

The defense mechanisms indicate blockages.

The blockages mean fear. Fear leads to violence.

Violence leads to suffering.

A campaign against domestic psychological violence



The video first shows a little boy who does his homework in the kitchen while his mother does the dishes. Father comes home angry. The child approaches him, the father snaps at him, and asks the mother for food; the child insists, then becomes resigned, and eventually, the father remains alone. During the communication interactions, the screen reads the name of the 10 main defense mechanisms.  



Mother is doing the dishes.

The 9-year-old boy is doing his homework.

Father comes home tired.

The boy wants his father’s attention.

Father pushes him away and asks for something to eat.

The boy makes one last attempt and then leaves.

The wife gets upset and leaves.

Father gets left alone.

The scenario has become the central concept based on which Ovidiu Brazadău, managing editor of the magazine Psihologia Azi (Psychology Today), has made and published this material in the magazine Psihologia Azi, issue 12/ December 2005, pp. 32-37.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2005-present Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Mecanisme de apărare, “published initially by Marcus Victor Grant in Romanian on 21 October 2013 on Discerne. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved. Originally written in 2005. Updated in 2020. 

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.


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