‘Psychological Defence Mechanisms‘ is an award programme we made to help students understand the concept of defence mechanisms. This is an important concept that is useful to any healthcare student.
The programme opens with a funeral, and the subject of denial – a normal reaction to loss. A wife cannot believe that her husband is dead, and discusses her feelings with a medical professional. Another example of denial provided shows a smoker in a hospital bed. He has gangrene of the right foot, and unfortunately this means he will require an amputation below the knee. As many in this situation would, the patient denies that he needs the amputation and insists that his foot is getting better. The patient has to come to terms with the fact that this case of gangrene is too severe to be treated with antibiotics and amputation is the only option. The last example of denial is shown to be a woman suffering with anorexia. She insists that she needs to be six or seven pounds lighter, when truthfully that would put her in a lot of danger.
A ‘difficult’ patient becomes argumentative in her doctor’s appointment; when she storms out of the room and into the waiting area, she starts to feel people are looking at her and talking about her. The paranoia builds up and she is experiencing psychosis, another defence mechanism.
A young boy has started to wet the bed again, at an age that this is considered abnormal. A discussion is had with a medical professional, who asks if the boy has been through any kind of stress. It comes to light that the boy’s mother passed away recently. Bereavement is extremely difficult for a young child to understand or process, and can cause them to regress back into their early years. In this case, it meant that he had started to wet the bed at night again.
A man speaks about his parents’ divorce, from when he was a child – he starts to cry, despite thinking that he was ‘over it’. This is an example of repression.
This programme was designed to be used for either live lecture settings or private study time. It’s concise and easy to follow, and is a great introduction to teaching psychological defence mechanisms.