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Zhang, W. Guo, B. (2017). Resolving Defence Mechanisms: A Perspective Based on Dissipative Structure Theory. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(2):457-472.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(2):457-472

Resolving Defence Mechanisms: A Perspective Based on Dissipative Structure Theory

Wei Zhang and Ben-yu Guo

(Accepted for publication 15 December 2015)

Theories and classifications of defence mechanisms are not unified. This study addresses the psychological system as a dissipative structure which exchanges information with the external and internal world. When using defence mechanisms, the cognitive-affective schema of an individual could remain stable and ordered by excluding psychological entropy, obtaining psychological negentropy or by dissipating the energy of self-presentation. From this perspective, defences can be classified into three basic types: isolation, compensation and self-dissipation. However, not every kind of defence mechanisms can actually help the individual. Non-adaptive defences are just functioning as an effective strategy in the short run but can be a harmful approach in the long run, while adaptive defences could instead help the individual as a long-term mechanism. Thus, we would like to suggest that it is more useful for the individual to use more adaptive defence mechanisms and seek out social or interpersonal support when undergoing psychic difficulties. As this model of defences is theoretical at present, we therefore aim to support and enrich this viewpoint with empirical evidence.

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