How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Michael Your Own Question
Michael, Therapist
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 456
Experience:  Master of Arts in Psychology
Type Your Health Question Here...
Michael is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Underlying causes of all adult defensive behavior are fear ...

This answer was rated:
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Underlying causes of all adult defensive behavior are fear and pain from past childhood wounds and traumas. If the person wasn''t physically abused, what causes this reaction in adults to alwyas get defensive?


I am not sure I agree with your statement regarding all adult defensive behavior.

First, even supposing that this is true, psychology tells us that memories of traumatic events are often repressed - sometimes so severely that they can never be uncovered. So even if this statement were true, can we ever say with absolute certainty that there was no trauma in child's life? I would say that every single adult has experienced some trauma during his/her childhood.

Childhood trauma could be physical and sexual abuse, but it could also be witnessing a car accident, a dead animal on the side of the road, a television character on television who gets shot and dies. Trauma does not have to be devastating or even recognized as traumatic by a parent sitting right next to the child.

Just think about your own memories from childhood. Why do certain events come to mind and others do not? Why does a sibling/parent/friend remember other events than we do? The answer is that each event a person experiences has a unique meaning for that person.

So taking your statement as true, it may just be that we cannot know the traumatic events that are causing defensive behavior in some adults.

If you would like, I can also discuss other ideas concerning why an adult may exhibit defensive behavior in the true absence of trauma or if we assume that childhood trauma does NOT cause adult defensive behavior.

Please let me know. Also, if there is a specific purpose to your question (i.e., a research paper versus a sibling/spouse/parent/child with difficult behavior) please provide me with more information so that I my answer will be the most helpful.

Dr. Michael


Michael, Therapist
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 456
Experience: Master of Arts in Psychology
Michael and 5 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Please answer this question and not dance all around it. What causes an adult to chronically, always get defensive when there is no need to assume that posture. Something is obviously being triggered in the individual to reflexively cause this response. It has to come from a person's past. So what past events trigger this response in adults, other than physical abuse. Either you know the answer or you don't. If you don't know the answer then just say so.

If you want to assume that it is from a person's past than the most common scenario is that the always-defensive adult has always felt a sense of resentment and jealousy toward others. Many individuals grow up feeling deprived, believing they deserved more than they received. Whether this is legitimate (as in a child who is raised in severe poverty) or not (as in the case of child who "has everything" but always wants what they do not have) is irrelevant. It is the belief that is important.

The atttitude that one is entitled to more than what one receives, than what life "gives" to a person tends to be a life-long attitude unfortunately.

With this attitude comes the expectation that everyone is going to deprive them of something to which they are entitled. Consequently, they become defensive based on this expectation, which they will tell you is a "fact" based on their lifelong experience. It is not necessary for anyone to actually deprive them of anything. Their defensivenes comes from their anticipation, from their certainty that they will be deprived.

In essence, people live their lives in defensive postures when their past experiences (or, more correctly, their interpretation/belief of their past experiences) has taught them that they will be deprived.

Please let me know if this answers your question.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Dr Michael~~

Thank You! I think you came real close this time with an answer. My wife was an only child after her folks had 5 miscarriages. She was raised Catholic and all girl Catholic schools K-12. Her parents were upper middle class. I know you aren't supposed to use the word always but in this case it is true. She always immediately gets defensive when I want to talk about something. That something can be as harmless as what's be going on at my job. She just immediately assumes this defensive emotional posture and it drives me nuts! I recently read where this kind of defensiveness is also manipulative. It's manipulating me into frustration! LOL Thanks again for your response.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
< Previous | Next >
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
  • I thank-you so much! It really helped to have this information and confirmation. We will watch her carefully and get her in for the examination and US right away if things do not improve. God bless you as well! Claudia Albuquerque, NM
  • Outstanding response time less than 6 minutes. Answered the question professionally and with a great deal of compassion. Kevin Beaverton, OR
  • Suggested diagnosis was what I hoped and will take this info to my doctor's appointment next week.
    I feel better already! Thank you.
    Elanor Tracy, CA
  • Thank you to the Physician who answered my question today. The answer was far more informative than what I got from the Physicians I saw in person for my problem. Julie Lockesburg, AR
  • You have been more help than you know. I seriously don't know what my sisters situation would be today if you had not gone above and beyond just answering my questions. John and Stefanie Tucson, AZ
  • I have been dealing with an extremely serious health crisis for over three years, and one your physicians asked me more questions, gave me more answers and encouragement than a dozen different doctors who have been treating me!! Janet V Phoenix, AZ

Meet The Experts:

  • Family Physician

    Family Physician

    Doctor (MD)

    Satisfied Customers:

    Emergency Medicine and Family Practice for over 26 years
< Last | Next >
  • Family Physician's Avatar

    Family Physician

    Doctor (MD)

    Satisfied Customers:

    Emergency Medicine and Family Practice for over 26 years
  • Nurse Milli, RN's Avatar

    Nurse Milli, RN

    Nurse (RN)

    Satisfied Customers:

    20 years experience in many areas of Nursing. Both Hospital and Private Practice experience.
  • Dr. Ketch's Avatar

    Dr. Ketch


    Satisfied Customers:

    Medical Degree, Former Assistant Professor at School of Medicine at Yale University
  • Dr. Arun Phophalia's Avatar

    Dr. Arun Phophalia

    Doctor (MD)

    Satisfied Customers:

    MBBS, MS (General Surgery), Fellowship in Sports Medicine
  • A. Schuyler, NP's Avatar

    A. Schuyler, NP

    Nurse Practitioner

    Satisfied Customers:

    Board Certified NP, MS, RN. Private practice & hospitalist
  • Dr. Mark's Avatar

    Dr. Mark

    Doctor (MD)

    Satisfied Customers:

    U.S. Physician/Surgeon in Neurosurgery
  • Dr. Gupta's Avatar

    Dr. Gupta

    Doctor (MD)

    Satisfied Customers:

    Vastly experienced MD Physician with 19 years of experience.

Related Health Questions