Clark (1999) Safeguarding Mechanisms refers to four (4) patters of safeguarding mechanisms uses by individuals to protect themselves from social, physical or self-esteem threats: Distancing,

Hesitating, Detouring and Narrowing the Path

(1) Distancing - people who use distancing withdraw from percieved threats and challlenges in life. Doubting, indecision, withdrawal, and isolation are all ways to use the distancing safeguard. These strategies help the person feel a sense if superiority in acting aloof while seeming absolving him/her from responsibility for solving the probem at hand. An exsample of distancing is a faculty member who removes himself everytime a conflict arises in the department. He may present a holier.than-thou attitude, prefering not to bother with such immature matters. However, he may find hilself out of the decision making loop, even when matters concern him. In fact, the safeguard might be used to protect him from conflict or the stress associated with making important decisions.

(2) Hesitating - People who use the safeguard of "Hesitating" will eagerly confront the tasks of life, but will then identify reasons why they cannot complete the task. Symptoms will develop as justification for avoiding the tasks of life. Within this safeguard is the approach to life "If only I weren't so angry, I would have good relationships with my family", or "If only I weren't so sick, I would be a good father".

(3) Detouring - People who uses safeguard "Detouring" protects self from failure by focusing on other matters. Typically, these are lesser tasks that take an enormous amount of time and leave the person with little to not ime to address a larger concern. Because the more significant matter cannot be attended to, the risk of failing is minimized, at least for the short term. For example, a man who agrees to do chores around the house, but has limited aptitude for the tasks might feel anxious when his wife asks him to put up a ceiling fan on Sunday.Instead of facing embarrasment when he admits he does not know how, or experiencing failure of he tries, he sleeps late, encourages his family to go to church, takes them out to eat for lunch, goes by the park onthe way home, and then feigns exhaustion when he gets home.

(4) Narrowed Path - A person in the Narrowed path form of safeguard accepts only tasks that are easy to accomplish, thereby avoiding failure but also underachieving in the bargain. A person with an MBA who chooses to work in a bookstore as a Clerk is one example. Whe he examines this choice, he discovers it is not that he likes the bookstore as much as that he is afraid he cannot succeed as a businessman. Another expression of this safeguard mechanism is the accepting of larger tasks, but choosing to finish only pieces, never quite completing the whole tasks. By this strategy, the person can claim the larger task is a work in progress and avoid final critique of the work.


List of books: Safeguarding,Mechanisms

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