Introjection, Internalization, Identification, Oh My: Answer and Rationale

By Heidi Tobe on February 13, 2018

Yesterday we explored the differences between the defense mechanisms introjection/internalization and identification. These can be difficult ones to distinguish, so if you haven’t already, we encourage you to check out yesterday’s blog post! Today we have a discussion of the answer and rationale for yesterday’s practice question.



A young married couple presents for counseling due to ongoing disagreements about roles within their marriage. The wife explains that she “never signed up to be his mom” and resents being expected to do all of the cooking and cleaning. The husband states, “I’m not asking for anything different than what my parents had. As the head of the house, I expect to be respected like my mother respected my father.” What defense mechanism is the husband using?

  1. Introjection
  2. Intellectualization
  3. Identification
  4. Reaction Formation

The correct answer is C, identification.

  • Introjection (A) occurs when a person internalizes an idea or voice of another person-often an authority figure. So if it said the husband just internalized his father's idea that "women do the housework" this would be introjection. While this has occurred, more than this has occurred. Remember, introjection and identification are very similar and on a continuum; introjection often leads to identification (as has happened in this scenario).
  • Intellectualization (B) is when a person removes themselves emotionally from something stressful by focusing on reasoning/thinking to avoid feeling. This is not occuring in the scenario above.
  • Identification (C) occurs when a person not only takes on a belief or voice of another person, but also begins to identify with that individual. In this case, the husband has not merely taken on the idea that women should do the housework; rather, he sees himself as the head of his household, like his father. He is identifying with his father. Because of this identification, he expects to be treated like his father, with his wife respecting him and treating him as his mom treated his dad.
  • Reaction formation (D) is when a person acts opposite to their unacceptable thoughts and emotions. We do not see the husband acting opposite to his thoughts or emotions in this scenario.

Were you able to correctly identify the defense mechanism in this scenario? If so, you are on the right track to passing your LCSW or LMSW exam! If you didn’t, know that we are here to help get you ready to PASS your exam! We have coaches here ready to answer your questions and support you throughout your studying journey.

Still haven’t signed up for an exam preparation program? Our structured, straightforward approach will provide you with exactly what you need! We look forward to helping you PASS your exam with confidence! 




Commenter Name
February 24, 2018

A consult with supervisor

Commenter Name
August 31, 2018

Can you please provide another example of these defense mechanisms? Thank you.

Commenter Name
September 1, 2018

Hi Lara, We have more examples of these in our quick studies and quizzes in our program!

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