Externally Directed ARMs

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Caution. This article/definition is in draft form and at this time may constitute no more than rough notes, reminders for required content, or absolutely nothing at all. Content is subject to revision.

Related Terms

Defence Mechanisms, Disjuncture, Externally Directed ARMs, Internally Directed Arms


  • Compartmentalization – suppressing awareness by breaking your life and your cognitive/emotional processes into discrete spaces. When you come home at night, you block out exploitation and abuse you perpetrate at work. When you go to work in the morning, you block out violence in the home. When you go to Church, you do not think about the hypocrisies in your daily life.
  • Denial– simple refusal to accept reality “as it is.” My mom beat me with a wooden spoon and leather belts, but she denies it to this day. The equivalent external ARM is repression.
  • Distortion – reshaping reality to avoid awareness of disjunctive realities. “What doesn’t kill you leaves a scar” justifications distort our understanding of violence and abuse and provide a justification for them.
    • Humor is a form of distortion. Using humor to change the “meaning” of reality. Making sexist, racist, homophobic jokes in an attempt to render the abusive behaviours acceptable, or gain social support.
    • Intellectualization – Not a defense mechanisms by itself, but a particular form of compartmentalization, dissociation, diversion, using the powers of the intellect
  • Dissociation – detachment from reality. Disconnection, especially intellectual. Daydreaming through dissociative disorders and fugue.
  • Diversion/Distraction – engaging in other activities, behaviours that draw attention away from issues in reality. For example, getting into a running club and spending all your time away from family in order to avoid the toxicities/issues at home.
  • Rationalization – “the justification of one's behaviour and motivations by substituting "good" acceptable reasons for the actual motivations.”