Understanding the "Manic Defense": An Examination of the Use of Defense Mechanisms among Depressed and Manic Outpatients

Jacqueline R Dunkelman, Pace University


Through examining relationships between manic and depressive symptom endorsement and defense mechanism use, this study aims to provide empirical support for the manic defense construct. Participants included 176 adults seeking individual psychotherapy services at a low-fee outpatient clinic affiliated with a private urban university. Though findings do not support the proposed hypotheses, significant results were found with regard to relationships between defense style and specific defense employment among individuals who endorse symptoms of mania, depression, both depression and mania, and neither depression nor mania. In general, immature defense employment was found to correspond with higher levels of manic and depressive symptom endorsement. Depression was found to be more highly related to immature defense style when experienced in combination with mania, than when experienced without mania. Additionally, manic individuals demonstrated significantly greater use of neurotic defenses than depressed individuals. These findings and their implications are discussed. Findings with regard to use of specific defense mechanisms are also reported and discussed.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Personality psychology

Recommended Citation

Dunkelman, Jacqueline R, "Understanding the "Manic Defense": An Examination of the Use of Defense Mechanisms among Depressed and Manic Outpatients" (2014). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3581145.



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