I cover defense mechanisms while talking about psychoanalytic theory in my AP Psychology and Psychology classes. Kids really love this topic as they can easily identify examples from their own life as we discuss them.
For this activity, students are put into groups of three or four and assigned one of the defense mechanisms covered (projection, repression, regression, sublimation, rationalization, denial, reaction formation, and displacement). They are given the definition and some examples and then are instructed to synthesize their own example to role play for the class as we discuss them during lecture.
The document includes teacher and student directions, eight different defense mechanisms, and provided examples for each.
Here is an example of one of the defense mechanisms:
Instructions: Below is one of the defense mechanisms from Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory. Freud believed that people (often unintentionally) utilized these defense mechanisms as a way to cope with stressful situations. Read the definition for your assigned mechanism as well as the examples. Then, your job is to create your own example (one not already listed) to “act out” in front of the class to demonstrate the defense mechanism.
• Projection: disguising one’s own unacceptable impulses,
thoughts, or desires by attributing them to another
– During the exam, Chloe passes gas and then
immediately accuses Julia of being the one who farted.
– Have you ever had a crush on someone and accused
one of your friends of liking him/her instead?
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