Ego defences and addiction treatment

When we make conflicting demands upon the poor ego, it is understandable if you feel threatened, feel overwhelmed, feel as if it were about to collapse under the weight of it all.  Ego defences and addiction treatment always begin with both denial and blaming. You can almost guarantee an addicted brain will be functioning off of its survival systems. Ego defences are bound to be rife. This feeling is called anxiety, or a state of tension or stress and it serves as a signal to the ego that its survival is in jeopardy. People who seek rehab for drug and alcohol abuse at a drug rehab centre, have normally exhausted many other avenues. There are normally dozens of broken deadlines, promises, guarantees and broken contracts between family that have all failed. Still, the addict will more than likely want to try these tactics again and again – should we let them.

In order to deal with conflict and problems in life, Ego defences and addiction treatment research show us that the ego employs a range of almost automatic defence mechanisms.  Defence mechanisms operate at an unconscious level and help ward off unpleasant feelings (i.e. anxiety) and instantly make things feel better for the individual. These work alongside flight, fight and freeze, fidget or feint protection mechanisms of your brain.

ego and addiction

Essentially, if the ego is obliged to admit its weakness, it breaks out in anxiety regarding the outside world, moral anxiety regarding the superego, and neurotic anxiety regarding the strength of the passions in the id.

The problem if the feelings and memories banished to the subconscious by these defence mechanisms do not disappear.  They continue to exert a powerful influence on behaviour and acting out, which is part and parcel of additive behaviour.  So it is these forces, which try to keep painful or socially undesirable thoughts and memories out of the conscious mind, are termed defence mechanisms. This is why we ask you to TRUST, RISK and SHARE. To look in the mirror of other people and peers in your Pathways Rehab groups and to have these undesirable thoughts pushed into the light.

In summary relating to ego defences and addiction treatment, we use defence mechanisms to protect ourselves from feelings of anxiety or guilt, which arise because we feel threatened, or because the thought processes become too demanding to bear.  They are not under our conscious control, and are non-voluntarist.  With the ego, our unconscious will use one or more or all to protect us when we come up against a stressful situation in life.  Ego-defence mechanisms are natural and normal until we couple it with addiction.  Because when they get out of proportion, addictions, disorder and neuroses develop, such as anxiety states, phobias, obsessions, compulsions or insane behaviour and acting out.

What’s importnat about ego defences and addiction treatment:

It is important to learn everything you can about defence mechanisms. You cannot trust yourself, your thoughts or behaviours alone. You need other people. Other counsellors, friends, professionals and doctors – don’t try go it alone. You will fail. No man is an island. So keep coming back and learn to TRUST, RISK AND SHARE.


denial arguing against an anxiety provoking stimuli by stating “it doesn’t exist” denying that your physician’s diagnosis of alcoholism is correct and seeking a second opinion
displacement   taking out impulses on a less threatening target slamming a door instead of hitting as person, yelling at your spouse after an argument with your boss
intellectualization avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on the intellectual aspects focusing on the details of a funeral as opposed to the sadness and grief
projection placing unacceptable impulses in yourself onto someone else when losing an argument, you state “You’re just Stupid;” homophobia
rationalization supplying a logical or rational reason as opposed to the real reason stating that you were fired because you didn’t kiss up the boss, when the real reason was your poor performance
reaction formation taking the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety having a bias against a particular race or culture and then embracing that race or culture to the extreme
regression returning to a previous stage of development sitting in a corner and crying after hearing bad news; throwing a temper tantrum when you don’t get your way
repression pulling into the unconscious ‘forgetting’ sexual abuse from your childhood due to the trauma and anxiety
sublimation acting out unacceptable impulses in a socially acceptable way sublimating your aggressive impulses toward a career as a boxer; becoming a surgeon because of your desire to cut; lifting weights to release ‘pent up’ energy
suppression pushing into the unconscious trying to forget something that causes you anxiety. Falling down stairs when drunk

difficult if not impossible the experience of a self and a world that are incongruent with its aims. The addictive process eventually transforms the worldview of the addicted individual and even realigns his sense of himself -his identity- so that they facilitate and do not obstruct the continued expression of the addiction.

The addictive consciousness is progressively organized around and constructed by the aim of the ambition for its own gratification. This is in most cases a gradual and insidious process which is unrecognized by the addicted individual -the “host” for the “parasite” of addiction. The end stage of this transformation is represented by the addict as puppet to the addiction’s puppet master. The addict then exists for one purpose only: to carry out the desires and demands of the addiction.

Individualized Drug Addiction Rehab Centre

For more information regarding ego defences and addiction treatment contact Pathways about their drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs get in touch. All can certainly benefit from the courses matter where you may find yourself on your journey of self transformation and personal growth. All addictions have underlying or dual characteristics. info@pathwaysplettrehab.co.za