Skip to content

Ego Mechanisms of Defense

A Guide for Clinicians and Researchers

George E. Vaillant, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-404-6
  • Item #8404

View Pricing

List Price

APA Members

20% off

APA Resident-Fellow Members

25% off

Buying In Canada or Europe?


Not since Anna Freud's 1937 book, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, has any one volume explored this topic as fully as Ego Mechanisms of Defense by George E. Vaillant.

By summarizing the latest empirical studies, proposing a universal language of defense mechanisms, and demonstrating how various assessment methods can be used in diagnosis, case formulation, and treatment, Dr. Vaillant and an interdisciplinary group of contributors provide the groundwork for clinical practice as well as future research in the field.


  • Clinical Applications.

    The historical origins of Sigmund Freud's concept of the mechanisms of defense. The place of defense mechanisms in diagnostic formulation and in modern clinical practice. The need for a uniform nomenclature for defenses. The clinical management of immature defenses in the treatment of individuals with personality disorders.

    Empirical Studies.

    The struggle for empirical assessment of defenses. Empirical evidence that defensive styles are independent of environmental influence. An empirical study of defensive styles: the Defense Style Questionnaire. A cross-validation of two methods of investigating defenses. Toward reliability in identifying ego defenses: clinical techniques. An approach to evaluating adolescent ego defense mechanisms using clinical interviews. What do cross-sectional measures of defense mechanisms predict? A Q-sort approach to identifying defenses.

    Appendixes. Seven Assessment Schemes for Defense Mechanisms.

    DSM-III-R glossary of defense mechanisms. Meissner's glossary of defenses. Vaillant's glossary of defenses. Perry's Defense Mechanism Rating Scale. Ego Defense Mechanisms Manual (Jacobson et al.). Bond's Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ). Vaillant's modification of the Haan Q-sort.

This book is at once thorough, creative, and enticing. . . This book is quite an important offering. Clinicians can benefit from the wisdom imparted in the chapter on clinical management of immature defenses, researchers from the summaries of the empirical studies, and educators from the whole work as a guide to thinking about patients in a most humane and empirically supported way.—American Journal of Psychiatry

Dr. George Vaillant is, in the tradition of Anna Freud and Elvin Semrad, an international authority in empirical research on the nature of defense mechanisms and their elaboration into personality traits.—Hospital and Community Psychiatry

In this clearly conceptualized, useful, and well-written book, George Vaillant discusses defense mechanisms from both a clinical and a research perspective.—Social Work: Journal of the National Association of Social Workers

After the underlying theory of defenses had been developed by Sigmund Freud, his daughter Anna elaborated the notion of specific mechanisms of defense and their importance to clinical work. In this book George Vaillant and his colleagues take the next step, moving from the accepted clinical wisdom of the field to the development of a strategy and methodology for systematic scientific study. . . the book combines methodologic sophistication with clinical relevance, in an all too rare, but immensely appealing integration.—Robert Michels, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College

Dr. Vaillant has once again pioneered on this subject and offered cutting-edge information in this very relevant clinical area. This book presents new perspectives and insights, making it of significant value to clinicians, educators, and researchers.—Pedro Ruiz, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Related Products

Become an APA Member
Join Now