The Role of Defense in the Life Story

Dan P McAdams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


In modern societies, adults typically provide their lives with some sense of unity and purpose by constructing self-defining life stories that serve as their identities. Such stories are told to others and to an internalized audience or listener who serves as an ultimate judge and interpreter of the narrative. Defense mechanisms specify narrative strategies that persons use to shape how their lives are told to others and to their internalized audiences. Life events and experiences are incorporated into a life story to the extent that the internalized audience can make sense of the telling. Defenses function to make some stories more tellable than they might otherwise be and to keep other potentially storied accounts from ever reaching the status of being told.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1125-1146
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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