International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 11 Num. 1 - March 2011


Defense Mechanisms and Gender: An Examination of Two Models of Defensive Functioning Derived from the Defense Style Questionnaire

Volume 11 Num. 1 - March 2011 - Pages 149-155


Martin Drapeau , Katherine Thompson , Jonathan Petraglia , Kylie Louise Thygesen , Serge Lecours


Different models have been developed to capture an individual?s defensive functioning, including the DSM-IV Defensive Functioning Scale (DFS). These different models are often used to distinguish between psychologically healthy individuals and individuals presenting with a mental disorder, or to demonstrate change in patients over the course of and following treatment. Yet, despite evidence that men and women rely on different defence mechanisms, most if not all studies into defences rely on the same model for both genders. Using samples of 517 women and 124 men, this study aimed to examine the extent to which a proxy of the DFS model of defence mechanisms, and the model underlying the Defense Style Questionnaire, can be adequately applied to men and women. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated that neither model accurately reflects men or women?s defensive functioning. Implications of this for research and practice are discussed.

Key words:

defense mechanisms, gender.

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