Denial involves an individual refusing to see, believe or understand that a situation is bad, or occurring at all. Repression pushes disturbing memories and thoughts into the subconscious, making the individual unaware of the situation. Projection is when a person puts his or her own unwanted or unacceptable thought or motives onto another person.
Displacement is where a substitute is used to satisfy a desire, such as someone might punch their spouse when they want to punch their boss. Regression is the psychological movement into an earlier time when the present stress did not exist.
These defense mechanisms can prevent a person from fully engaging with the world and reality. In the case of denial and others, a person’s defense mechanisms can aid in the perpetuation of a stressful, unhealthy or abusive situation.