Regression is a form of ego defense described as a reversion to a younger state, aiming to go back to the past when a person felt safer than in the current situation. This ego defense occurs due to a stressful event that most likely happened in early life.
Regression is an immature ego defense. Immature ego defenses help to reduce anxiety and distress from uncomfortable situations but are detrimental over the long-term in psychosocial development. This leads to the inability of a person to cope effectively.
Regression happens in an involuntary way. The person does not necessarily want to bring about this immature ego defense but he/she does not have a better way to cope with the stress.
Regression usually occurs due to a stressful situation. An example of regression is when a child is bedwetting again after successfully being toilet-trained. Another example is when a child sucks his/her finger again after seemingly growing past it. New stressors in life can cause regression.
Regression is the opposite of another immature ego defense, fixation. Fixation can be described as someone being "stuck" in development. An example of fixation is a physician that throws a tantrum because a patient is late.
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