Defence Mechanisms: an ordinary way of avoiding pain

Anna Freud, psychoanalyst, was interested in the way in which the mind manages emotional pain and building on her father’s theory described a variety of defence mechansims that we use to help protect ourselves.  All of this takes place without conscious awareness.

She believed that such defence mechanisms were often useful and necessary, for example in the early stages of grief or after a sudden shock a degree  of denial can be helpful.  However her theory suggests that sometimes when defences are too rigid or prolonged they can sometimes cause us difficulties.  They can impact on our relationships and restrict access to a full range of emotions which may impedes a realistic appraisal of a situation.

This short video by the school of life covers the subject well and describes some common defence mechanisms which can be used at any given time by us all…

“We should where we can dare to leave home”

Our childhood in complex and myriad ways contributes to who we are as adults, why we can get into repeating difficulties in relationships or struggle to manage areas of our emotional life.  Psychodynamic psychotherapy is one way of exploring  this in a safe and supportive environment.

This video by the school of life discusses the relevance of our childhood in understanding the struggles of adulthood.  It raises the possibility that with self examination we can liberate ourselves from the stories of our childhood, or at least obtain a clearer idea of their ongoing influence.


What is attachment theory?

John Bowlby developed attachment theory in the early 1950’s to further understand the impact of early experiences on longer term mental health.

Decades of research have supported his ideas about the importance of early relationships on our enduring ways of relating to others.  It has given psychologists and psychotherapists a useful framework for understanding why individual’s may repeat unhelpful patterns within such relationships.

This short and easy to understand video by the school of life explains some of his ideas ….



“Psychodynamic therapy may be the best way to tackle reoccurring problems”- writes Shedler

In this article by Jonathan Shedler, an american psychoanalyst, several myths regarding psychodynamic psychotherapy are debunked. He also describes the differences between this kind of therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

“Freud’s legacy is not a specific theory but rather a sensibility: an appreciation of the depth and complexity of mental life and a recognition that we do not fully know ourselves. It is also an acknowledgment that what we do not know is nonetheless manifested in our relationships and can cause suffering—or, in a therapy relationship, can be examined and potentially reworked.”

If you are interested in finding out more go to….


On the benefits of reading

Many of us may have had the experience of reading a novel or a poem which touches us in a particular way but can reading enhance our sense of well being?

In this interesting article by Sally Vickers, psychoanalyst, she describes how reading can touch parts of ourselves that were perhaps hidden and in doing so expand our sense of who we are.  She notes  “ we may discover in a book shadow aspects of ourselves we have failed to acknowledge or recognise”.

Read more about her thoughts here…