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Mature Adaptation

Page history last edited by Debra Lee 14 years, 11 months ago

Mature Adaptation


Major Theorist

George Valliant

Vaillant may be best known for his study on defense mechanisms--the fact that in order for adults to deal with life's ups and downs, their defense mechanisms (ways to cope) with changes must mature. His six levels of defense mechanisms are below. The first level is the most mature. As we age, we tend to add more defense tools as coping strategies and use fewer of the lower-level, less mature defense mechanisms.


In reviewing my life, I can certainly see that I have used levels 2-6 to cope with stressful sitatuions. I am not sure I have progessed to the point where I use level 1 as a coping mechanism. Hopefully, I will develop that stage of coping at some point in my life.


Vaillant's Six Levels of Defense Mechanisms
Level Defense Mechanism Example
I. High Adaptive Level Altruism Dealing with stress over health by participating in a race to raise funds for researching a disease.
II. Mental Inhibition Level Repression Dealing with stress over childlessness by expelling thorugh and wishes from conscious awareness.
III. Minor Image Distorting Level Omnipotence Dealing with stress over military assignment by glorifying one's special training and high-tech equipment.
IV. Disavowal Level Denial Dealing with stress over marital problems by refusing to acknowledge that a hurtful incident, aparent to others, has occured
V. Major Image Distorting Autistic fantasy Dealing with stress over potential layoff by daydreaming about an ideal job instead of taking action to find a new one.
VI. Action Level Help-rejecting complaining Dealing with stress over money problems by complaining, but then rejecting offers of help and advice.
Taken from Bjorklund & Bee, 2008



















Bjorklund, B. R. & Bee, H. L. (2008). The Journey of Adulthood, 6th ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.


Web Links


     A news article with Vaillant's guidance on how to achieve happiness. Nothing on defense mechanisms, however.



     More tips on how to age well from Vaillant.

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