Poor adaptation mechanisms and emotional well-being

Sherman Hoover
Poor 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 stimuli from reality, thus producing an adjustment to it, this allows the optimal development of the subject, the performing your daily tasks and meeting your needs.

Heinz Hartmann (1939) argued that adaptation was also based on biological regulations, he stated that the Ego must solve tasks, adapt to reality and modify it, while modifying itself, since the Ego is the “directing instance of the orchestra". It 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: they are changes in the Self, that the subject experiences in their relationship with the environment. They reside in the mind and in the body because the individual is modified, they are manifested by somatic and mental responses.


  • Build your schemes and break paradigms
  • Impact bias and adaptation mechanisms
  • Victims of crime and social adaptation
    • Conclution
    • Links
    • Bibliographic references

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, in that way he 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".

Piaget's theory is also based on the biological model of adaptation, for Piaget, in said adjustment, when information is "integrated" the assimilation process occurs and when it is "reorganized" accommodation takes place.

In turn, both processes occur in cognitive schemas. What are the "schemes" that govern your life? Piaget calls the behaviors or actions that are related to the construction of knowledge "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 powerless in the face of the circumstances they face.

Do the schemes you have built contribute to your well-being and development or do they limit you and make you experience discomfort? It is possible to un-apprehend old behavior patterns that cause you emotional distress and learn healthy coping mechanisms to respond to life's challenges..

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

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

When the person uses adequate adaptation mechanisms, the ego is strengthened and the person is able to face reality without fragmenting or splitting, likewise, he can neutralize the energies coming from the id and use them optimally. Sometimes, it is necessary to stop the impulses of the id and other times it is better to facilitate its discharge.

The ego does so by de-detecting the representations charged with sexual or aggressive energy, coming from the drives and by using these cattexes (energies) for sublimatory purposes, using other mature defense mechanisms such as suppression, which helps to focus on the present task. altruism and humor, which when 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 are the owner of your own energy or that existence resembles the cards that others are shuffling? All emotions are necessary, denying them, repressing them or masking them in another way is usually counterproductive for the biopisicosocial well-being of the individual.

Recognizing your emotions represents a fantastic adaptation mechanism, learning to manage emotions and use the energy that comes 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 turn into an adaptive achievement" (Bleichmar).

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: uses primitive defense mechanisms such as denial and repression, as well as inconvenient adaptation mechanisms.
  2. Psychotic: when there is distortion of reality.
  3. Neurotic: uses primitive defense mechanisms, against stress, fears and anxiety. A very well adjusted person may have this trait.

Impact bias and adaptation mechanisms

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

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


Employing primitive defense mechanisms and not transcending them, such as denial and repression.Use mature defense mechanisms such as altruism, sublimation, suppression and humor within their own contexts, respecting others.
Decreased feelings of self-efficacy.Appreciate your own personal skills and talents.
Negative cognitive evaluation, labeling oneself with stereotypes and prejudices, destructively self-criticism affecting personal worth.Self-observe the aspects that can be improved and move towards it.
Perfectionism or setting disproportionate goals, mental rigidity, falling into excess stress for a long time.Get out of the comfort zone and use optimal stress levels to improve performance, seek balance and flexibility as much as possible. Change your goals if they are sources of excessive suffering.
Worrying to the degree of pathological anxiety.Take care of 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 wishful thinking.Concentrate on the present, on the construction of personal projects and more purposeful schemes according to your resources.
Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD): Excessive daytime daydreaming.Use the imaginative and creative resource at will.
Poor tolerance for frustration, punishing yourself verbally, physically or mentally when things get out of control or don't go as expected.Tolerance of frustration and a lot of patience with yourself, especially if you are going through a difficult process.
Employing avoidance and flight strategies when they are not relevant or do not provide solutions, such as emotional and social isolation.Show resilience and face fears, if you need help you can count on psychological assistance and strengthen your support networks.
Procrastinate or "leave for tomorrow what you can do today".Plan your activities in a balanced way and considering all your needs, especially the basic ones.
Outbursts of anger, violence, aggressive outbursts, or tantrums.Strategies for managing stress, anxiety or anger. It is suggested to seek psychological support.
Lability, frailty, and lack of emotional regulation.Equanimity, seek balance and emotional regulation, if you do not achieve it alone, you may require psychological help.
Suppressing emotions that culture stigmatizes.Manage emotions in ways that contribute to your well-being.
Maladaptive attribution style.Adaptive attribution style.

Victims of crime and social adaptation

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

Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) was developed to be used with victims of rape and crimes, it facilitates the expression of affect and the adaptation of the traumatic event to the individual's schemes and their reality (Resick and Schnicke , 1993), it can also be very effective for victims of violence, abuse, sexual abuse in childhood and other transgressions.

Systematic desensitization helps improve social adjustment 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 with post-traumatic stress disorder, those who were victims of violent crime, and those with other anxiety disorders 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 post-traumatic stress that appears in childhood..

What are some measurement instruments used by psychologists to assess the patient's social adaptability? To determine the disturbance caused by the conflict, the Adaptation Scale represents a good choice (Echeburúa and Corral, 1987, in Borda and Echeburúa, 1991). To evaluate the level of social-behavioral and emotional adjustment, the SAS-SR (Social Adaptation-Self-Report Scale) is found, 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 that we build, these paradigms are influenced by social learning. Healthy adaptation mechanisms are focused on problem solving, while those that are inconvenient for the individual, attack the well-being and biopsychosocial development of the subject. It is possible to modify the adaptation mechanisms used.


  • http://paul-parin.info/wp-content/uploads/texte/castellano/1998r.pdf

Bibliographic references

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

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