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The defense mechanisms (DMs) of 103 nonreferred children ages 47 to 102 months were assessed through dollhouse play. The authors measured the children's temperament (Temperament Assessment Battery for Children-Teacher Form [TABC]) and verbal capacities (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence or Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children). Four main findings were derived: (1) DM use decreased with age with different developmental trajectories; (2) regression, displacement, and reaction formation were more frequent in girls and denial more frequent in boys; (3) the number of DMs used was negatively associated with the TABC Adaptability score and positively with the TABC Approach/Withdrawal score; and (4) children who used rationalization and did not use identification and suppression scored better on verbal capacities.
Department of Psychology, University of Trieste, Trieste, and Department of Psychology, University College London, London.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Psychotherapy research : journal of the Society for Psychotherapy Research
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Unconscious process used by an individual or a group of individuals in order to cope with impulses, feelings or ideas which are not acceptable at their conscious level; various types include reaction formation, projection and self reversal.
Defense mechanisms involving approach and avoidance responses to threatening stimuli. The sensitizing process involves intellectualization in approaching or controlling the stimulus whereas repression involves unconscious denial in avoiding the stimulus.
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