Bad adaptation mechanisms and emotional well-being

Bad adaptation mechanisms and emotional well-being

The adaptation mechanisms represent those coping strategies and processes through which the person builds cognitive and behavioral modifications or adjustments to respond to the stimuli coming from reality, thus producing an adjustment to itThis allows the optimal development of the subject, the performance of their daily tasks and the satisfaction of their needs.

Heinz Hartmann (1939) argued that adaptation was also based on biological regulations, affirmed that the “I” must solve tasks, adapt to reality and modify it, while modifying itself, since the “I” is the “directing instance of the orchestra". He said that adaptation refers to a balance between:

  1. Alloplastic: they are actions directed towards the external environment, they represent changes in the environment.
  2. Autoplastic: are changes in the I, which the subject experiences in its relationship with the environment. They reside in the mind and in the body by modifying the individual, they are manifested by somatic and mental responses.


  • 1 Build your schemes and break paradigms
  • 2 Impact bias and adaptation mechanisms
  • 3 Victims of crime and social adaptation

Build your schemes and break paradigms

Hartmann considered reality as external to the subject, but at the same time as something that the person constructs, that way it gives meaning and meaning, as well as a nuance of subjectivity and individuality to each person. "The pleasure principle hinders adaptation to reality and the reality principle facilitates it."

The Piaget's theory it also has its base in the biological adaptation model, for PiagetIn this adjustment, when the information is “integrated” the assimilation process occurs and when it is “reorganized” the accommodation takes place.

In turn, both processes occur in cognitive schemes. What are the "schemes" that govern your life? To the behaviors or actions that are related to the construction of knowledge Piaget calls them "schemes", many of them are acquired through social learning. When there is a situation of constant abuse, learned helplessness can occur, in which the person feels helpless in the circumstances they face.

You may be interested: Jean Piaget's Theory of Learning, main ideas

Do the schemes you have built contribute to your well-being and development or limit you and make you experience discomfort? It is possible to detach old patterns of behavior that cause you emotional suffering and learn healthy adaptation mechanisms to respond to life's challenges.

The brain plasticity, the ability to create new pathways as supercarriers of information, finding new ways to solve problems are mechanisms of adaptation of the organism for survival, can be appreciated when there is a brain injury in a specific region.

What are some similarities between defense and adaptation mechanisms? The self defense mechanisms, are unconscious strategies; both protect the self from the constant intrapsychic conflict between personality structures. For Anna Freud, the adaptation mechanisms have the objective of facing the situations that are presented to a large extent by the social environment.

When the person uses appropriate adaptation mechanisms, the self becomes stronger and the person is able to face reality without fragmenting or splitting, and can neutralize the energies from it and use them optimally. Sometimes it is necessary to stop the impulses of the id and many others it is better to facilitate its download.

The ego does so by disinfecting the representations charged with sexual or aggressive energy, coming from the drives and by using those latexes (energies) for sublimation purposes, using other mature defense mechanisms such as suppression, which helps focus on the present task, the altruism and the humor, that when they are in the right context,are healthy coping strategies in situations of stress and anxiety.

"Waking up every morning carries a high risk of uncertainty"Franz Kafka

In the "process" called life, do you consider that you own your own energy or that existence resembles the cards that others shuffle? All emotions are necessary, deny them, repress them or mask them otherwise it is usually counterproductive for the biopysicosocial well-being of the individual.

Recognize your emotions It represents a fantastic mechanism of adaptation to learn to manage emotions and use energy from all of them for the good of the person, including anger, sadness, fear and aversion that are often stigmatized, so they tend to be more repressed. "A narcissistic motivation can become an adaptive achievement" (Bleichmar).

You may be interested: The lack of emotional regulation

The adaptive characteristics of a person can be:

  1. Mature: using adaptive coping strategies and “mature” defense mechanisms such as sublimation, altruism and suppression, for example.
  1. Immature: use primitive defense mechanisms such as negation and the repression, as well as inconvenient adaptation mechanisms.
  2. Psychotic: when there is distortion of reality.
  3. Neurotics: employs primitive defense mechanisms, in the face of stress, fears and anxiety. A very well adapted person can have this trait.

It may interest you: Difference between Psychosis and Neurosis

Impact bias and adaptation mechanisms

The impact bias as an inconvenient adaptation mechanism, it occurs when the person overestimates the effects that events can produce, could generate fear, excessive worry, excessive anticipatory anxiety and catastrophic thoughts.

It is natural that there are certain difficulties, more when we use an inconvenient adaptation mechanism can increase them. Instead, developing tolerance to frustration and resilience can give you the opportunity to modify your limiting schemes and paradigms, be more flexible and loving with yourself and others.


Employ primitive defense mechanisms and not transcend them, such as negation and the repression.Use mature defense mechanisms such as altruism, the sublimation, suppression Y humor within their own contexts, respecting others.
Decreased feelings of self-efficacy.Value your own skills and talents personal
Cognitive evaluation negative, labeling with stereotypes and prejudices, self-criticizing destructively affecting personal worth.Self-observe the aspects that can be improved and aimed at it.
Perfectionism or set disproportionate goals, mental stiffness, fall into excessive stress for a long time.Get out of the comfort zone and employ optimal stress levels to improve performance, seek balance and flexibility as much as possible. Change your goals if they are sources of excessive suffering.
Worry you to the degree of reaching pathological anxiety.Take care in modifying the schemes that you consider necessary for your development and health, understood as a biopsychosocial element.
Too many flashbacks or flashbacks and rumination of deiderative thoughts.Concentrate on the present, on the construction of personal projects and more proactive schemes according to your resources.
Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD): Excessive Dreaming daytimeUse the imaginative and creative resource at will.
Poor frustration tolerance, punish you verbally, physically or mentally when things get out of control or do not go as expected.Tolerance to frustration and a lot of patience with yourself, especially if you are going through a difficult process.
Use avoidance and escape strategies when they are not relevant or do not give solutions, such as affective isolation And social.To show resilience and face fears, if you need help you can count on psychological assistance and strengthen your support networks.
To procrastinate or "leave for tomorrow what you can do today."To plan your activities in a balanced way and considering all your needs, especially the basic ones.
Outbursts of anger, violence, starts of aggressiveness or tantrums.Strategies for managing stress, anxiety or anger. It is suggested to seek psychological support.
Lability, fragility and lack of emotional regulation.Equanimity, seeking balance and emotional regulation, if you do not achieve it alone, you may require psychological help.
Suppress the emotions that stigmatizes culture.Manage emotions in ways that contribute to your well-being.
Misfit attribution style.Adaptive Attribution Style

Victims of crime and social adaptation

There are certain variables that hinder resilience in crime victims, such as: mental health status when the event occurs, degree of violence, intensity of trauma and weak social support networks.

The cognitive processing therapy (TPC) It was developed to be used with the victims of rape and crimes, it facilitates the expression of affection and the adaptation of the traumatic event to the schemes of the individual and his reality (Resick and Schnicke, 1993), it can be very effective also for victims of violence, abuse, sexual abuse in childhood and other transgressions.

The systematic desensitization it helps improve social adaptation in victims of violence, abuse and rape (Frank and Stewart, 1984; Turner, 1979; Wolff, 1977) as well as in accident victims (Fairbank, DeGood and Jenkins, 1981; Muse, 1986), people who suffer PTSD, those that were victims of violent crimes and those who suffer from others anxiety disorders You can also benefit from this methodology.

"... Each adaptation is a partial death, a renunciation of a part of individuality." (Ferenczi, 1931). Dissociative disorder represents an example of the most extreme adaptation of posttraumatic stress in childhood.

What are some measuring instruments that psychologists use to assess the patient's social adaptability? To determine the disturbance caused by the conflict represents a good choice the Adaptation scale (Echeburúa and Corral, 1987, in Borda and Echeburúa, 1991). To assess the level of social behavioral and emotional adjustment, we find the SAS-SR (Social Adaptation-Self-Report Scale), developed by Weissman, Prusoff and Thompson (1978), this psychometric resource is a version of the Social Adaptation Scale evaluated by the interviewer (SAS; Weissman and Paykel, 1974).


The adaptation mechanisms are manifested through schemes we build, these paradigms are influenced by social learning. The adaptation mechanisms healthy are focused on problem solving, while those who are inconveniences for the individual, the wellbeing and biopsychosocial development of the subject. It is possible to modify the adaptation mechanisms used.

Other related articles

  • The Repression and its masks.
  • Piaget's development theory: adaptation and learning.
  • Inventory of items on vulnerability to stress.


Bibliographic references

  • Bleichmar, N. M .; Lieberman, C. and Cols. (1989).Psychoanalysis after Freud. Mexico: Eleia Editores.
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