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Gottschalk, L.A., Fronczek, J., Abel, L. (1993). Emotions, Defenses, Coping Mechanisms, and Symptoms. Psychoanal. Psychol., 10:237-260.

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(1993). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 10(2):237-260

Emotions, Defenses, Coping Mechanisms, and Symptoms

Louis A. Gottschalk, M.D., Ph.D., Janny Fronczek, M.A. and Lennart Abel, M.S.

Empirical research on affects and their defenses has not progressed much beyond the clinical psychoanalytic treatment paradigm initiated by Freud. Recently there has been renewed interest in trying to reach a consensus on the definitions of defenses and in achieving their reliable measurement with subjects within and outside the psychoanalytic situation. One method of measuring defenses that focuses on the major data of observation of psychoanalysis—namely, speech—is the Gottschalk-Gleser (1969) method of content analysis. This article report on a study using this method to examine 5-min samples of speech elicited from six different groups of individuals via purposely ambiguous standardized instructions simulating the request to free-associate. The purpose of this research was to determine how the magnitude of self-acknowledged anxiety and the defenses of anxiety displacement and anxiety denial relate to each other and to a variety of other factors, such as age, sex, intelligence, degree of mental disorder, magnitude of various kinds of hostility, and state of consciousness. The findings indicate that displacements and denials in mentally healthy individuals are more likely to function as coping mechanisms in contrast to their function as defenses or symptoms in mentally disordered people.

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