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Defence Mechanisms in Guajiro Personality and Culture Essay

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Defence is all efforts of the ego to render inoperative and instinctual wish or impulse. The instinctual object choice produces neurotic anxiety because it clashes with the superego, which arises from the internalisation of the parent’s moral values. Defences protect the individual from experiencing anxiety either by detaching the forbidden wish from conscious awareness or by distorting or falsifying its true meaning. Several methods were used in collecting data for this study. Structured methods of observation and interviewing were used to gather information relevant to behavioural systems having transtructural significance, such as sex, aggression, and responsibility. Rorschach and TAT tests were administered to supplement these data and to aid in uncovering elements and relationships in the personality that were not readily observable, especially in the areas of affective behaviour, cognitive organization and defensive functioning.

This study called “Defence Mechanisms in Guajiro Personality and Culture” by Lawrence C. Watson conducted with Guajiro Indian subjects came up with exceptional results. Some general characteristics of defence mechanisms in the Guajiro society were found: * All of the basic defence mechanisms are present but some are more important than others. * All defence mechanisms assume a well-defined culturally defined form. * Defence mechanisms cluster around a few systems of behaviour that are most conflict-ridden culture. * Variations in the deployment of psychic defences are, to a degree, a function of a person’s age, sex, occupation and class position. * There is a basic continuity in defence functioning from one stage to another in the life cycle of the individual.

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This study shows that defence mechanisms formulated by Freud have widespread, if not universal occurrence in human personality processes, irrespective of variations in cultural context. It also shows that in every unique social setting, cultural factors determine the form in which defensive behaviour comes to be expressed. This study also gave the result which says that defence functioning must be studied in relationship to other prevailing modal personality factors (e.g., superego strength, level of emotional control, etc.), since it is quite likely that certain defensive properties will be found only if they are compatible with these other elements.

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