Why Some People Can Get So Defensive | Psychology Today United Kingdom


Getting defensive can take many different forms, including verbal attacks, denial (denying what has been said), fabrication (outright lying), avoidance (not allowing any discussion on the matter), gaslighting (e.g., calling the other person “crazy” or suggesting something is wrong with the other person) and others.

At their root, all defensive behaviors have this in common: sending a message to the other person that what the person is saying is wrong or a problem. What’s more, the message is that the person is “out of line” (authoritarian punishment language) for addressing them or attempting to hold them accountable for something in the first place. The takeaway message is that such confrontation — as fair or appropriate as it may be — is unacceptable and will not be allowed.

A brief personality profile of the individual who gets easily defensive

Defensive individuals often have control and power issues, and perceive anyone confronting them or holding them accountable