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Take a few minutes Make a list of the things in your life that you cannot control. Now go back over this list and put an “x” beside each item that is caused.

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Presentation on theme: "Take a few minutes Make a list of the things in your life that you cannot control. Now go back over this list and put an “x” beside each item that is caused."— Presentation transcript:

1 Take a few minutes Make a list of the things in your life that you cannot control. Now go back over this list and put an “x” beside each item that is caused by another person. For those marked items, reflect on how these people’s actions can cause a reaction from you and influence them. - Is there a way that any part of this chain can be controlled? For example: “I can’t control my older sister – she’s always telling me what to do!” Granted, you can’t control your sister, but you can control your reaction to her. And this is a coping strategy for that kind of situation.

2 Coping with Psychological Stress
Psychological Defense Mechanisms When threatened, we all do our best to keep some kind of balance. We protect our inner selves from too much attack by using defense mechanisms, psychological distortions, or “tricks,” designed to keep us stable. If someone calls you a bad name, your defenses go into action instantly, and you either think how terrible that person is or you try to make yourself look better to offset the comment. Thus, we use defense mechanisms to reduce threats to ourselves and to feel like a decent person. Defenses are normal, unless they are used too often. When that happens, we are refusing to face reality, and this is not adaptive. Below is a discussion of several different defense mechanisms.

3 Repression We do not allow ourselves to remain aware of painful material; we push it out of consciousness. Repression operates to some extent in all defense mechanisms. After all, if we are going to distort something, we cannot afford to remember it clearly. Example: If we hate someone and want to do him or her in, we force these feelings and impulses out of our awareness (repress them). Repression is usually unhealthy. For example, those who repress the feeling that someone important, like a parent, doesn’t love them are asking for trouble. Pushing this feeling away can interfere with the ability to give and receive love. Better to find out where this belief comes from and resolve it. People who come from very abusive backgrounds often repress many of the terrible events of their childhood. This repression is helpful in the short run because it lets them survive the trauma. But the original problems continue to have an effect. For instance, these people may have a lot of trouble relating to or trusting others, but because of the repression they may not know why. Only by facing their terrors, however painful the memories are, can these people understand themselves and get on with their lives.

4 Denial In some ways, denial is similar to repression. With denial, we refuse to admit that anything bad has ever happened. When given some terrible news, the first thing people usually say is something like, “Oh, no! That can’t be true.” Denial is a common first response to tragedy. Most of us, however, go on to accept reality. People who routinely deny having done or said things whenever they cause a problem are in for trouble. They may avoid facing the music for a short while, but eventually they lose out. Because they are less than truthful and do not take responsibility for their actions, others cannot trust them. Also, you simply cannot get anywhere in solving a problem if you cannot admit that one exists in the first place.

5 Displacement Sometimes we have trouble directly expressing what we feel because of the threat (real or imagined) of something terrible happening as a result. So, we vent our feelings elsewhere or on someone else, engaging in displacement. This behavior is so commonplace that even animals do it. If a male bird is threatened by a more dominant male, he may, instead of responding directly, turn away and furiously peck at a leaf. In the human arena, if we dare not talk back to our boss, for instance, we might yell at a friend instead. Most of us have had this experience when we have been in a bad mood. Again, a little of this type of behavior is to be expected. However, too much displacement causes trouble because it allow us to avoid facing a problem that may only get worse rather than going away.

6 Displacement
Taking your anger out on someone else or something else

7 Reaction Formation What we express is the opposite of what we really feel. Example: A man feels extremely hostile toward his mother and even thinks about physically harming her. This same man feels very guilty about his hostility because he believes that people should love their parents. He is horrified and terrified by his wish to harm his mother. In order to keep these feelings both secret and under control, he displays a high degree of protectiveness and concern for her. He calls her often to ask about her health. He runs errands for her. He never misses a birthday or Mother’s Day. The danger here is fairly obvious. The man’s resentment will grow. The problem will get worse. Eventually, he will probably explode in a furious outburst.   Reaction formation is sometimes a little hard to see in operation since we can’t read people’s minds. How does a little girl know that a little boy likes her? Because he studiously and deliberately ignores her in the hallway and makes faces at her on the playground.

8 Reaction Formation
Reacting the opposite of what we really feel

9 Intellectualization When the emotions we feel are too overwhelming, we may try to eliminate them altogether. Talking coolly and “rationally” about a tragedy as if it were simply an event that we observed is called intellectualization. We have taken all the feelings out of our description. Intellectualization can be somewhat healthy at least for a short while. People who have been widowed or seriously assaulted, for instance, may appear very calm at first. They may concentrate on seemingly unimportant tasks and talk about what happened to them as if they were objective observers, uninvolved and untouched. It is only when this approach goes on too long that it becomes troublesome. The problem is that the emotions have not really disappeared. Refusing to express them, face them, and deal with them on an emotional level gives them more power, not less.

10 Intellectualization

11 Identification with the Aggressor
When we are mistreated for a long time by someone much more powerful than we are, we may take on some of that person’s characteristics, or identify with him or her, to try to curry favor. By being like that person, perhaps we can avoid the abuse, perhaps that person will like us better, or perhaps we can also become powerful, at least in our own minds. This defense mechanism can help explain some puzzling events. For instance, some people who are held for long periods of time as prisoners of war become like their guards. Instead of treating the guards as the enemy, they treat them as friends – despite the fact that they have been beaten or tortured by these same people. When the war is over, the psychological conflicts begin. These former prisoners usually have great difficulty explaining their behavior to themselves and often come to feel like traitors. Although the behavior has stopped, the confusion and guilt they feel have not.  Similarly a child may take on the characteristics of an abusive parent. Thus, he or she may end up engaging in the very actions that were so hated and feared in childhood. Such people often find themselves doing things to their own children that they swore they would never do.

12 Regression We defend ourselves by “moving backward” and behaving like children. This defense is a reaction to the extreme frustration of having to be an adult and take responsibility. We regress (move backward) to a time when we were helpless children and someone had to take care of us. Regression is sometimes seen in sports events when the player lies down on the ground and has a temper tantrum just as a child would. It is also seen in general behaviors such as pouting, sulking, and name-calling. If we can find someone willing on occasion to take care of us, regression might offer some comfort, but it usually tends to make others reject us, since anyone acting this way appears ridiculous. It is not a very useful defense in the long run.


14 Rationalization We explain what we do in such a way that we avoid any responsibility for a bad outcome. Say we take some money that we need for something important and spend it on something frivolous. We could rationalize this behavior by saying that we are all entitled to some enjoyment in life. However, we still need whatever it was, but now we don’t have the money to pay for it. On the other hand, rationalization can be used to our benefit to get rid of something we can’t do anything about. If someone we have loved very much tells us to shove off, we could rationalize by thinking of some defect that he or she has (terrible breath?). So we are “tricking” ourselves into believing we didn’t want the other person anyway.


16 Projection Refers to the process of mentally giving to someone else our own thoughts or feelings. For example, if a person is fired from a job for poor performance, he or she might claim that it is the supervisor who is incompetent. In this way, the responsibility is shifted onto someone else. All of us, at times, have a few bad days in a row. We decide that those around us are acting strangely and making life difficult for us on purpose. For a while, this is all right, but a continued pattern of projection is self-destructive, since it doesn’t help us to face up to how we might be causing the problems.

17 Sublimation Occurs when we channel our emotional energy into a constructive or creative activity. It is the only defense mechanism that is truly healthy and adaptive. Instead of giving in to unacceptable aggressive impulses, we become gymnasts or play football. Sublimation allows us to express the lingering sadness we feel over losing someone close to us through painting or writing poetry. Or rather than just getting angry about social injustice, we may become active in an organization designed to change an unfair law.

18 Examples

19 Defense Mechanisms Role-play activity

20 Coping with Bodily Stress: Gross example
If you get a splinter in your finger and leave it, some intriguing changes take place. The area surrounding it will first become reddened, but after a while a yellowish circular mound will form around the splinter. What has happened is that the body’s defensive system has gone into action. It has dispatched special cells to that area to surround the foreign object, swallow it up, and kill any bacteria that have gotten into the wound. The result of the battle is the yellowish fluid of dead invader cells that comes out if you squeeze into the splinter area.

21 Coping with Bodily Stress
This reaction is part of what is called the immune system. The immune system is our body’s method of fighting off injury, disease, or illness, ranging from the splinter all the way through pneumonia. There are a number of types of these fighting cells, called antibodies, which are sent to various locations to ward off the invaders.

22 The chemicals that are triggered by stress actually slow down the immune system.
When people are depressed or anxious, the immune system is operating on a very low level, and these people are easily infected. The antibody secretions of students during exam time are decreased because of the stress, leading to an increase in the number of sick students. Evidence is pretty clear that a psychological catastrophe such as a death I the family can cause the immune system to be weakened to a point that some of the survivors are in life-threatening danger. And the reverse is true to a more limited degree; optimism can increase the number of immune cells. Thus, we play an active mental roe in our health. You will read that even diseases like cancer can result from a “poor” attitude. That is quite exaggerated, but is has a grain of truth. What it refers to is that people who are beaten down by life have a weakened immune system, which can allow any incoming disease microorganism to take over with greater ease. It doesn’t mean that we can completely fight off cancer by having a healthy outlook.

23 Result but not cause The evidence is again present that physical problems such as: Ulcers Asthma Headaches These get worse as the result of psychological factors, but certain psychological factors are not the “cause” of these difficulties.

24 Ulcers Connection between stomach ulcers and stress?
An ulcer is a severe irritation of the stomach lining that can become an open wound inside. Some ulcers result from an excess of acid in the stomach. When people are under stress, the amount of acid increases dramatically. If, on top of that, the person ingests substances that break down the protective lining of the stomach, the stomach acid can irritate the walls of the stomach. Things that break down the protective lining include alcohol and aspirin. Studies show that people who feel helpless and who feel they lack control over their environments will get ulcers more often than people who feel a sense of control and who are relaxed and easy-going.

25 Asthma In bronchial asthma, the muscles spasm and the tissues swell in the bronchial tubes entering the lungs. This makes it very difficult to breathe. Physicians often claim that this is a psychological disorder, but it more likely is related to allergies or defects in the immune system. One would expect a person having trouble breathing to panic at times, so there is also a psychological component. Stress can make asthma worse, but it is not necessarily the origin of the problem.

26 Headaches It may be hard to believe, but the brain itself has no pain receptors at all. Hence, it cannot hurt. Because of the thick, sturdy skull, nature considered pain receptors inside unnecessary. Your brain can be touched, squeezed, and pinched, and you will feel nothing. Actually the “head” ache is coming from the muscles and blood vessels pushing against the nerve endings that surround the neck and head.

27 Muscle contraction headache
There are several types of headaches It comes from stress or from spending long periods of time holding oneself in certain positions. These headaches can develop from driving long distances without getting out of the car and moving about, or from studying too long. Muscular headaches also appear because when we are under stress, we tighten our muscles and hold ourselves in rigid positions for extended periods.

28 Migraine headache People with migraines have trouble with sleep, digestion, have disturbances of mood and emotional responses, and have improper operation of the blood vessels in the head. These factors, as well as pain responses, are controlled in part by a brain chemical called serotonin. People who have migraine headaches seem to have a defect of the serotonin system so that not enough of the chemical is available. This results in unpleasant changes in all these areas of behavior as well as the triggering of headaches of staggering proportions. Stress and psychological problems are not the origin of these headaches but definitely add to the effects.

29 Controlling Thoughts The key to handling pain, anxiety, or worry is to learn to control one’s thoughts. While this may sound simpleminded, it actually works. Cognitive Strategy = is a mental technique in which we try to convince our brains to feel something different from what the incoming impulses say is going on. In the area of pain relief, there are two cognitive strategies: (1) distraction, in which we think of something else during pain and (2) redefinition, in which we talk ourselves into believing that the incoming stimulation is something other than pain (that is, we define the sensations over again).

30 Distraction and Redefinition
Distraction works best with minor pain. You think of something like a beautiful sunset or some pleasant experience while being stuck with a needle. Redefinition works best with chronic (unending) pain. In the latter case, the task is to accept the incoming impulses, rather than distract them, but to reinterpret what they mean. If you are out camping and starting to get cold, you imagine how warm the air is getting. Developing these opposite cognitive messages actually does a reasonable job of reducing pain, and it requires little practice.

31 Why do these work? Cognitive strategies work for two basic reasons: (1) they reduce the stress and anxiety aspects of pain, which are really a large part of it, and (2) they put into operation the brain’s ability to alter incoming messages from “pain” to “no pain.” If you approach a situation with the attitude of catastrophe, the stress and pan will be much greater.

32 Biofeedback Another method for developing control is called biofeedback. In biofeedback, a machine is attached to some part of the body and records its condition. The machine doesn’t change anything – it merely gives information. It can record stress by muscles tension, anxiety as recorded by the amount of sweat, and high blood pressure. Information about the body’s condition is given to the conscious mind by the machine. The person takes this information into account and tries to achieve conscious control over the body. For example, if anxiety is too high, the person would try to relax until the machine says they are successful.   Using this technique causes the person to expect benefits. Expectation is a large part of almost any “cure.” Also, merely going through the procedure of biofeedback gives a person something to do rather than remain helpless. Finally, when focusing on any object, the attention gets locked in, and the person typically goes into a state of relaxation.


34 Self Concept What we define as troublesome and our reactions to it are related to how we perceive ourselves. For example, if we feel confident in a social situation with new people, we won’t see the situation as much of a problem, and we will probably enjoy ourselves. If not, we may become anxious and withdraw instead of striking up a conversation. These different views and reactions come from different self-concepts. A person’s self-concept is the image that person has of himself or herself. It is a mixture of the characteristics that we see as belonging to us, which make up who we believe we are. It may or may not be in line with the way others see us.

35 All of us can think of people whose self-concept is not very accurate – a boring person who thinks she’s hilariously funny, a drop-dead gorgeous guy who thinks he’s ordinary-looking. When a large gap exists between our self-image and others’ image of us, we may be failing to see a problem that can get worse if we keep ignoring it. Most of us see ourselves in a somewhat more positive light than we really deserve. Is that a dangerous thing to do? Probably not, as long as it is within reason. In fact, it may help us maintain a sense of well-being. Interestingly, depressed people are usually both more negative and more accurate about their self-concepts than non-depressed people are.

36 Self-Esteem There is another way in which a gap between our self-image and others’ image of us can cause problems. Childhood versions of self-concept come from what other people tell us about ourselves. As we grow older, we add our own information and experience. But when important other people, such as our family, hold up an unrealistic idea of who we should be, we usually end up feeling inadequate. As a consequence, our self-esteem suffers. Self-esteem refers to how worthwhile we think we are. Self-esteem is different from self-concept, but the two are related. For instance, a self-described nasty, ugly, mean, lazy slob can have high or low self-esteem, depending on the value those characteristics have for that individual. Similarly, people you think are kind, attractive, intelligent, athletic and socially adept can still have low self-esteem. They may see themselves as not really having those characteristics or not having enough of them. When we are expected to meet impossible standards, we often stop trying altogether and just give up. The key is to develop our own positive idea of who we are, one that is not so dependent on other people’s opinions.

37 Healthy Characteristics
Certain personal characteristics are common to people who are resistant to stress and cope well with life’s problems. At the top of the list is accepting oneself, along with accepting and being interested in others. Being able to perceive reality fairly and accurately is another characteristic. This means not distorting things to suit your own purposes or denying that problems exist. Psychologically healthy people feel basically in control of their lives. They have a few close personal relationships and are able to make commitments. They are tolerant of and try to understand different points of view. They have a sense of purpose in their lives and are problem-centered. People who are problem-centered set specific goals and then go about reaching them. They do not just sit for hours stewing and worrying about things. They take steps to make constructive changes. Related to all these characteristics is a sense of responsibility. This means both taking credit for successes and taking the blame for failures. Some people do only one or the other, and leaving either one out is a bad idea. For example, some people take complete responsibility for nearly everything that goes wrong in their lives. This not only makes these people feel terrible most of the time but it allows other people to behave irresponsibly.

38 A certain amount of independence is also part of this recipe.
Healthy people have respect for social order, but they are not overly conforming. They also like their privacy and like to have some time alone. This means that they not only enjoy their own company but also are not too dependent on other people. They are not rigidly locked into a specific philosophy or way of doing things but are open to new ideas, concepts, and activities.

39 “Take time to stop and smell the roses.”
Psychologically healthy people are experts here. They have a fresh appreciation of life, even things they have experienced many times before. They continue to marvel at a tree blossoming or the beauty of a snowfall or the miracle of being alive, regardless of how old they are. Finally, healthy people do not take themselves too seriously. They are able to laugh at the absurdities of life. Having a sense of humor can smooth the roughest and most difficult of times. A good laugh not only releases tension, but it can help you see things in their proper perspective.

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