1st Edition

Protecting the Self
Defense Mechanisms in Action



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ISBN 9781593852986
Published July 6, 2006 by Guilford Press
384 Pages

USD $53.00

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Book Description

Integrating theory, research, and practical applications, this timely book provides a comprehensive examination of defense mechanisms and their role in both normal development and psychopathology. The author describes how children and adults mobilize specific kinds of defenses to maintain their psychological equilibrium and preserve self-esteem, particularly in situations of trauma or stress. Many lucid examples illustrate what these mechanisms look like in everyday life; the impact of age, gender, and personality differences; what happens when defenses are used maladaptively; and how they are affected by psychotherapy. Challenges in assessment are considered, and empirically supported instruments and approaches are discussed in depth.

Table of Contents

I. Defenses in Everyday Life
1. Introduction
2. Development of Defenses
II. A Closer Look at Three Defenses
3. Denial
4. Projection
5. Identification
III. Defense Mechanisms in Action
6. Defenses in Childhood: Stress and Psychopathology
7. Stress and Defense Use in Adulthood
8. Defenses and Personality
9. Gender Differences and Defenses
10. Studying Defenses over Time: Longitudinal Studies
IV. Defenses and Psychopathology
11. Defenses and Psychopathology in Adult Community and Student Samples
12. Defenses and Psychopathology in Adult Psychiatric Patients
13. Defenses and Psychotherapy
14. Case Studies
V. Assessment of Defenses
15. Explaining the Defense Mechanism Manual
16. Other Approaches to Assessing Defense Mechanisms

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Author(s)

Biography

Phebe Cramer, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She is also on the editorial boards of the Journal of Research in Personality, the Journal of Personality Assessment, and the European Journal of Personality. Dr. Cramer is the author of a number of research articles and books, including Storytelling, Narrative, and the Thematic Apperception Test. Her research takes a developmental approach to the study of defense mechanisms and personal identity.

Reviews

In this comprehensive, well-organized, and lucid book, Cramer draws on her own extensive work and that of other investigators to show how defense mechanisms appear and replace each other in the course of development; how different defenses are related to gender, to personality, and to different kinds and degrees of pathology; and how these unconscious phenomena are measured. This book would be an excellent main or supplemental text for many courses in personality and clinical psychology.--Ravenna Helson, PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Cramer presents a fascinating program of research and theory on developmental and clinical aspects of defense mechanisms. All students of personality--and all clinicians, regardless of theoretical orientation--will enrich their understanding of the core role that defenses play. Written in a clear and compelling manner, this book helps us understand how denial, projection, and identification are manifested in normal development and in psychopathology. This book makes an important contribution to a developmentally informed approach to mental disorders.--Robert L. Leahy, PhD, American Institute for Cognitive Therapy

This book presents a wise and elegant synthesis of what is known about the nature, development, assessment, and real-life implications of defense mechanisms in childhood and adulthood, by one of the premier researchers in this area. Cramer deftly interweaves information on the rich research base on psychological defense with insights gleaned from literature, clinical encounters with patients, and detailed case studies. The book should be equally useful to personality researchers and practicing clinicians and would be an excellent resource for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in personality, assessment, and psychotherapy. In short, this book should be of use to anyone who wants to understand more deeply the ways--both healthy and damaging--that children and adults cope with the stresses and challenges of daily life.--Rebecca L. Shiner, PhD, Colgate University

This book is a unique combination of groundbreaking research, sweeping scholarship, and powerful clinical case studies. Cramer convincingly reasserts the central role of defense in any theory of personality, making this book essential reading for clinicians, researchers, and all those involved in the study of human development and personality.--Jack Novick, PhD, International Psychoanalytic Association

Cramer has given us perhaps the most thorough review to date of theory and research on the development of defense mechanisms. Her work takes us through the early psychoanalytic roots through the most modern empirical efforts and theoretical perspectives. The book is impressive in scope, integrating the role of defenses in normal development and in psychopathology, which helps to make it an exemplary contribution to the field of developmental psychopathology. Cramer brings her ideas to life with examples from clinical experience, myths, and fairy tales. Not only is this book an informative reference for researchers, theorists and clinicians, but it is also a joy to read.--David W. Evans, PhD, Bucknell University
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Any serious student of human behavior—whether it be a clinician, a researcher, a health/mental health provider or the otherwise curious—will benefit from this book and the wisdom it imparts. The fact that Cramer's work is solidly evidence-based makes it a major contribution to the understanding of human psychodynamics.
--Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 5/20/2006ƒƒ
This book will be one in a series of conceptual milestones on defenses....Cramer marks the growth of our knowledge about the way defenses develop and work. She updates our understanding of some defenses, their development and functions, and offers various research measures to assess defense mechanisms. In addition, she shows how treatment outcome can be measured in terms of defense maturation....The core of this book is the three decades of careful development research on three defenses, documenting defense development, and change in some clinical populations. This will endure. Our discipline benefits from this author's dedication, thoughtfulness, and care.
--International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 5/20/2006ƒƒ
Its completeness suggests its potential usefulness to graduate students in psychology. It should also interest psychodynamic therapists concerned with the evidentiary basis for some of the Freudian concepts that they use daily.
--The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 5/20/2006ƒƒ
I can think of no easier or better way to describe this book than to say that it is extraordinary. It is by far the best book on psychological defenses since George Valliant's (1977) Adaptation to Life....Synthesizes a vast array of research data, makes important conceptual distinctions that clarify sometimes muddled and often contrary findings, and, in the process, establishes a new standard of clarity and probity for research on the interaction among personality, development, and psychopathology. It is as invaluable to the researcher as it is to the clinician and bridges that all too common divide between them....Because it is so well documented and broad in its acquaintance with the field, this book is indispensable for both researchers and clinicians. It would serve as an excellent text in a graduate course on experimental psychopathology, and clinical interns would find in it a new way to assess and listen to clients and thus to tailor their interventions.
--PsycCRITIQUES, 5/20/2006