Identifying Defense Mechanisms

Instructions: Identify the defense mechanism illustrated in the following examples by placing the appropriate letter in the blank next to each item. Use the following code.

A. Denial E. Reaction Formation

B. Repression F. Displacement

C. Projection G. Sublimation

D. Regression

_____1. Mark never stops ranting about the dangers of pornography. He gives endless examples of smut he has seen in movies and on television, and spends a lot of time hanging around porno houses to get even more examples.

_____2. Chad always teases and annoys his kid brother Nathan after he himself is bullied and picked on by his older brother Sam.

_____3. Judy, who has always been aggressive and fiercely competitive, becomes captain of her college soccer team.

_____4. Diane, who keeps accusing Sam of being in love with her, probably has secret desires for Sam.

_____5. Despite overwhelming evidence and a murder conviction, Jay's mother refused to believe that her son could actually take the life of another human being.

_____6. Brett, who is extremely hard to convince in arguments, complains that all of his friends are stubborn.

_____7. Even as a child Lisa was always impulsive and engaged in risky behavior. Perhaps not surprisingly, she grew up to become a famous race car driver.

_____8. Roger, a major league pitcher, often "beans" (i.e., hits with a pitch) the next batter after someone has hit a home run on him.

_____9. After an unsuccessful attempt at a sexual relationship, Pete began devoting most of his energies toward church activities.

_____10. Wendy was embarrassed because somehow she kept forgetting to keep her appointments with the dentist.

_____11. Amanda broke off her relationship with Jack, but Jack still talks and acts as if they are still dating.

_____12. After her new baby sister came home from the hospital, her parents discovered that Susie had dismembered her favorite doll.

_____13. Linda, who has had many extramarital affairs, begins to accuse her husband Dan of being unfaithful.

_____14. Larry began wetting his pants again after the birth of his baby brother.

_____15. Max, who is unsure about his own sexuality, frequently makes homophobic and gay-bashing remarks.

_____16. Two years after breaking off his relationship with Julie, Rick fails to even recognize her at a cocktail party.

_____17. At the first sign of any problems or trouble in his life, Bill immediately runs to his parents to bail him out.









1. E (Reaction Formation)

9. G (Sublimation)


2. F (Displacement)

10. B (Repression)


3. G (Sublimation)

11. A (Denial)


4. C (Projection)

12. F (Displacement)


5. A (Denial)

13. C (Projection)


6. C (Projection)

14. D (Regression)


7. G (Sublimation)

15. E (Reaction Formation)


8. F (Displacement)

16. B (Repression)



17. D (Regression)