Article

Adaptive mental mechanisms. Their role in a positive psychology.

Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
American Psychologist (Impact Factor: 6.87). 02/2000; 55(1):89-98. DOI: 10.1037//0003-066X.55.1.89
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Psychology needs a metric for positive mental health that would be analogous to the IQ tests that measure above-average intelligence. The Defensive Function Scale of the DSM-IV offers a possible metric. In the present article the author links the transformational qualities of defenses at the mature end of the Defensive Function Scale--altruism, suppression, humor, anticipation, and sublimation--to positive psychology. First, the methodological problems involved in the reliable assessment of defenses are acknowledged. Next, the use of prospective longitudinal study to overcome such difficulties and to provide more reliable definition and measurement of defenses is outlined. Evidence is also offered that, unlike many psychological measures, the maturity of defenses is quite independent of social class, education, and IQ. Last, evidence is offered to illustrate the validity of mature defenses and their contribution to positive psychology.

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