Defence Mechanisms
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“The way out of a trap is to study the trap itself, learn how it is built.”

– Henepola Gunaratana, Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist monk


Imagine a soldier who comes back from war dressed in camouflage and loaded down with over 40 kilograms of gear: Kevlar helmet, weapon, rucksack and assault pack. His tour of duty is over but he remains convinced that a war is raging and he is vulnerable to attack.

This was a scenario I described to a client recently who came to see me with a variety of self-esteem issues originating in childhood. This particular client had grown up with an angry and abusive father who constantly waged war against his family.  

In self-esteem sessions, we look for core beliefs: what the client has “bought into” and...

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