On Dexter

The Dark Defenders

Freudian Defense
Mechanisms in the Minds of Miami Metro

By Chase Barrick, Wind Goodfriend, Ph.D.

“There are no secrets in life–just hidden truths, that lie beneath the surface.”

–Dexter, “Crocodile” (1-2)

Sigmund Freud is undeniably the most famous psychologist of all time. Many of Freud’s theories are known for their controversial nature, such as the Oedipus complex (the idea that all young boys want to have sex with their mothers) or penis envy (that all girls wish desperately for a penis instead of their own inferior clitoris), concepts that are almost laughable today. These fringe ideas are not the reason Freud is so famous, however. His impact on psychology endures because the vast majority of his ideas laid the foundation for modern therapeutic techniques. One of the most bedrock notions within almost all therapy perspectives is the idea that we each have a hidden self, lying in wait to surprise us. This secret self lives in our unconscious mind, as the quote above suggests.

What is the purpose of hiding our own true natures, even from ourselves? Freud believed that when reality is too traumatic, too anxiety-provoking for our conscious minds to handle, our unconscious minds take over. We twist and distort reality as much as necessary so that we can keep pretending that everything is “just fine.” Our unconscious mind plays these cognitive tricks on us all the time, so that we can fit in, go along with the crowd, avoid the crushing pressure of reality, and sleep at night. The term for these mental acrobatics is defense mechanisms. Within Dexter’s world, defense  …

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