Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research


Kelsie M. O'Bryan






In the early 1900's, Sigmund Freud theorized the three parts of a person's personality: the id, the ego, and the superego. The ego controls the id's desires because they may have consequences or not be socially acceptable. A person experiences defense mechanisms to protect his or her ego. Although psychologists view defense mechanisms as a typically healthy way to deal with a problem, the aviation industry sees them as dangers to the safety of flights. Many aircraft accidents have occurred because the pilot had a strong ego, and was unconsciously defending it. Crew members must learn to recognize defense mechanisms in themselves and in their crew. Once recognized, an antidote should be applied. Usually, following prescribed procedures by the Federal Aviation Administration or the airline can help counter the effects of a strong ego. This can make for a safer cockpit.

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