Trauma and defences: their roots in relationship

An overview



Abstract: In this paper the differing psychodynamic models of defences are outlined and compared with an attachment theory perspective in which affect regulation plays a central role. Behavioural and intrapsychic distance regulation (defensive exclusion) are seen as the main strategies for affect regulation and are the manifestations of the habitual ­pattern of emotional regulation in the relationship between the child and the primary caregiver. A new perspective on unconscious fantasy is offered, in which fantasies are seen to be actively created as defensive narratives to protect the development of healthy narcissism and to become integrated into a person's internal working models. Archetypal defences are explored from a developmental perspective and some neurobiological issues relevant to defences are highlighted.