Defense Mode

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Defense Mode is an Ego Mode of the Bodily Ego. This mode is activated when the physical unit is under environmental, psychological, or emotional stress. When the body is under threat, Survival Mechanisms are activated that provide programmed autonomic response to environmental danger. In this mode, substantial portion of available biological energy goes towards protecting oneself from the various forms of toxicity common in our societies.

List of Ego Modes

Ego Modes > Defense Mode, Deficit Mode, Growth Mode, Repair Mode, Survival Mechanism

Related LP Terms

Defense Mode >

Non-LP Related Terms

Defense Mode >


The idea of a defense mode is intimated by Charles Dederick as part of his Synanon theorizations. "As long as he willingly accepts himself, he will continue to grow and develop his potentialities. As long as he does not accept himself, much of his energies will be used to defend rather than to explore and actualize himself."[1]

Physiological Changes

Defense Mode involves changes in the body's hormonal chemistry that lead to physiological changes in the body, which are subsequently expressed in psychological and emotional changes. Changes may be grouped into short term and long term.

Short Term Changes

  • Release of adrenalin
  • Modification of estrogen/testosterone levels
  • Modification of circulatory flow (blood to the extremities)
  • Transfer of control of the physical unit to lower brain centers to facilitate instinctual (i.e. programmed and rapid) response.

Long term changes

  • Lowering of CQ
  • Neurochemical and neuronal brain modifications

Antiquated Programming

Modern societies and modern economic systems theoretically obviate the need for survival mode. Current technologies can provide for the safety and security of all members of the human race. Thus no individual physical unit needs to experience stress or threat. In this context survival mode is an antiquated and irrelevant feature of the physical unit.

Despite being largely antiquated and unnecessary, survival mode remains a feature of the physical unit. This is because mechanisms of natural selection no longer operate and therefore programming cannot be "naturally" selected out. Note, it is possible conscientiously and willfully change survival programming. Such a task should be undertaken only when danger is eliminated, stress is minimized, and survival is no longer an issue.

Long Term Toxicity

It should be noted that the survival responses of the physical unit are functional only in the short term. Long term activation of survival mode lowers the [[Consciousness Quotient] (CQ) of the Physical Unit, causes difficult to repair changes to brain chemistry, and leads to degradation of the body's physical systems.

Survival Mode roots psychopathology. Pathological responses, toxic behavioral patterns, the presence of Defense Mechanisms, etc. is predicated on the activation of Survival Mode. Reducing pathological and toxic behavioural patterns is thus predicated on deactivation of survival mode.

Survival Mode may be contrasted with Deficit Mode and Performance Mode.


  1. Charles E. Dederick quoted in Yablonsky, Lewis. The Tunnel Back : Synanon. Baltimore : Penguin Books, 1965. p. 88