This book deals with one particular problem that is with the ways and means by which the ego wards off unpleasure and anxiety, and exercises control over impulsive behavior, affects, and instinctive urges. It is a major contribution to psychoanalytic psychology.

Foreword to the 1966 Edition -- Translator’s Note -- Theory of the Mechanisms of Defense -- The Ego as the Seat of Observation -- The Application of Analytic Technique to the Study of the Psychic Institutions -- The Ego’s Defensive Operations Considered as an Object of Analysis -- The Mechanisms of Defense -- Orientation of the Processes of Defense According to the Source of Anxiety and Danger -- Examples of the Avoidance of Objective Unpleasure and Objective Danger -- Denial in Fantasy -- Denial in Word and Act -- Restriction of the Ego -- Examples of Two Types of Defense -- Identification with the Aggressor -- A Form of Altruism -- Defense Motivated by Fear of the Strength of the Instincts -- The Ego and the Id at Puberty -- Instinctual Anxiety During Puberty -- Conclusion