A new book that should be of interest to meditators is now available online with open access through Frontiers in Psychology and Frontiers in Psychiatry:

“Recent Empirical Research and Methodologies in Defense Mechanisms”

Edited by Mariagrazia Di Giuseppe, John Christopher Perry, Tracy A. Prout and Ciro Conversano

17 studies are being presented, including:

“Defensive functioning moderates the effects of nondirective meditation”

Anne Grete Hersoug, Morten Wærsted & Bjørn Lau (2021). Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 629784; DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.629784

According to this study, those who practised Acem Meditation obtained a favourable combination of reduced defensive functioning and improvement of their stress-related problems, suggesting that reduction of defensive functioning, as well as stress problems, is obtainable with Acem Meditation.

The new book explains how defense mechanisms impact our mental health, psychological well-being, and interpersonal functioning. Faced with stressful life events, we need defense mechanisms to cope with difficult emotional experiences. They may be activated without our consciousness and become a part of our habitual way of being in situations where we have little sense of control. Increased psychological stress is associated with more use of defense mechanisms. Our way of experiencing situations under stress may at times make us less capable of coping with the discomfort, for example when we tend to be more worried and with more inner turmoil. It is not always easy to see who is the source of the distress – whether it is ourselves or the others. Such negative experiences may disturb our self-esteem in relation to others, both at work and privately,

A main focus of the book is to establish that there is a hierarchy of defense mechanisms, ranging from low-level, immature defenses to high-level, mature defenses. The many forms and effects that the defense mechanisms have, are described in detail. They operate mainly outside of our awareness. However, when we use mature defenses, we can be partially or fully aware of their activation. At times, we may also intentionally use them as an adaptive strategy to deal with stressful situations (e. g. suppression). In contrast, less adaptive, more immature, defenses, represent automatic responses. Maturity of defensive functioning has been found to increase with older age. Thus, a positive development takes place over the course of adult life.

See earlier blog post: Stress reduction linked to lower defence – new study on Acem Meditation