Coping Strategies and its Important Types

Coping Strategies Introduction

The stress coping mechanisms usually are aimed to modulate as reaction of body and mind to stress factor. The the perception as well secretion of stress hormones and behavioral alterations Stress Sympathetic activation, which pathetic accompany stress help towards coping with stress. Stress is a normal part of formal, much stress can take its toll living on both physical and psychological health. How reduce its negative effects ? The do deal with stress? Is there a way to People reduce, or learn to tolerate the threats that lead to stress are known as Control habitually use certain Coping Strategies to help ourselves deal with control stress. Coping. Stress We a person to do some-thing.

The variety of reactions to stress is practically unlimited. They may constructive direct approaches of the normal individual to the mental Lange Symptoms from psychotic patient. The coping strategies vary with the of personality for the individual. coping with the problems of the life or stress, the individual is confronted In with challenges :

  • To meet the requirements of the stressor.
  • To protect the ‘self” from psychological damage and disorganization.

A person who feels competent to handle a stressful situation tends to act in a task-oriented way; to direct behavior primarily at dealing with the requirements of the stressor. However, In psychology when the stressor seriously threatens one’s feeling of adequacy reactions will tend to be defense -oriented i.e. directed primarily at protecting the self from hurt and disorganization, rather than resolving the stressor situation. Thus, the response of the individual may be a task oriented response or  a defense oriented response. In fact, each individual has a characteristics pattern of a reaction, changes during his lifetime. which rarely

Task-Oriented Responses



When the person feels competent to handle a stressful situation, a task oriented response is typical. These responses focus on the goal and the means to achieve the goal, rather than the individual himself. These are:


It implies removing obstacles to satisfy our needs Attack reaction is apparently based upon the fundamental tendency of living organisms to increase the activity and variation of efforts in the face of obstacles. The typical emotion associated with attack behavior is anger or hostility towards the situation or the object, which hinders achievement of the goal. Many stress situations cannot be deal with direct aggression and hence attack is unsuccessful many times. Thus, the individual  is subjected to unpleasant and painful frustration.

E.g. if an adult feels unwanted he may develop a high level of tension which is discharged in delinquent behavior, destruction of property, setting  things on fire, sexual offenses, and other hostile reactions. The rules and regulations  of the society, however,  may frustrate these reactions. Generally however, attack is the best way of coordinating the abilities of the individual so that constructive action results.


It implies admitting defeat, reducing ego-involvement in a situation,  lowering aspiration, decreasing energy and effort, and eventually, becoming apathetic.  Resistance and protective inhibition are common forms of avoidance or withdrawal in face of excessive stimulation. As the individual learns to associate certain  goals and situations with frustration, he may avoid them instead of attacking them. However, withdraw generally arouses feeling of guilt in the individual.


Since all the situations by direct attach of withdraw, it becomes cannot be dealt with successfully necessary to work out some sort of compromise. It involves changing one’s method of operation, accepting substitute goals or resorting to normally unacceptable means.

E.g. faced with starvation an individual  may compromise with his values and steal food. Making  a decision that resolves a  conflict is usually a compromise reaction. Choice of either goal or means of action in a conflict implies a compromise between the two. Sometimes we also make compromise with the goals that are not easily attainable, in such cases, we lower our goal. The common emotion that accompanies compromise is anxiety and guilt.

Defense Oriented Responses

When a stressor seriously threatens a  person’s feelings of adequacy, a defense-  oriented response is generally given. These responses try to save the person, but do not  deal with the block directly. Two types of defense-oriented patterns are differentiated :

Responses such as crying, repetitive talking, and mourning which seem to  function as psychological damage-repair mechanisms.

Ego or self, defense mechanisms, which protect the self from hurt and devaluation and play a major role in psychopathology

It was Freud who first described and popularized the concept of defense mechanisms or ego defense mechanisms as he called them. Ego is the of personality; which faces three ‘harsh masters’ conscious,  integrating aspect Id, reality, and  superego. The mechanisms used by the
ego to counter the neurotic reality, and moral anxiety, and thus to protect itself, are known as the ego-defense mechanism

Characteristics of Defense Mechanisms

  • Defense mechanisms are used to protect the ego. However, they may be combined with task-oriented approaches
  • Defense mechanisms can be and often are used in combinations.
  • Every individual has a tendency to use a particular defense mechanism or a particular combination of defense mechanisms consistently (Gleser and Sacks, 1973)
  • All defense mechanisms are unconscious. The individual is unaware of using them and in fact resents it his attention is drawn to them. Defense mechanisms lose their defensive value if they  become conscious. By using defense mechanisms an individual is not only fooling others but also his own self.
  • Extreme exaggerated use of defense mechanisms is an indication of abnormality. Frequent use of defense mechanisms also signifies mal-adjustment.
  • Defense mechanisms originate from negative experiences. According to Freud, repression is the basic defense mechanism. Negative events are repressed into the unconscious. However, repressed material is always trying to gain an entry into unconsciousness. To counter the anxiety thus generated, and to keep the repressed material in the unconscious, the ego uses additional defense mechanisms.
  • According to Adler defense mechanisms develop so that the ego can protect itself from feelings of inferiority- Feelings of inferiority develop due to actual or perceived traumas and inferiority.
  • To protect the individual from external threats such as devaluating failures or internal threats such as guilt arousing desires and actions, defense mechanisms use the following methods :
    • Denying distorting or restricting the individual’s experiences.
    • Reducing emotional or self involvement
    • Counteracting threat or damage.
    • Often a defense mechanism offers more than one kind of protection.

Classification of Defense Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms have been classified in various ways :

Active VS. Passive defense mechanisms: Active defense mechanisms bring a person towards reality and into contact with other people. E g. in rationalization, he attempts to explain his behavior to others Defense mechanisms such as rationalization compensation, identification, projection, displaced aggression, etc. are active defense mechanisms.

Passive defense mechanisms involve a retreat from reality, particularly from interpersonal situations. The individual first withdraws from others and then tries to handle his frustrations and anxieties. E.g. withdraw fantasy etc.

 According to Rosenzweig (1936). defense mechanisms may be classified into three categories:

  • Extropunitive  The individual aggressively attributes his frustrations to external persons or things. The associated emotions are anger and resentment.
  • Intropunitive The individual aggressively attributes his frustrations to his own self. Associated emotions are guilt and remorse. 
  • Impunitive The individual denies his aggression to adopt a compensatory attitude Aggressive impulses are repressed and do not appear to supply the motivating forces. 

Thorpe and Katz -(1967) have classified defense mechanisms on the basis of whether they are socially approved tolerated criticized or disapproved.

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