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Pronunciation: bar′ē-er


  1. An obstacle or impediment.
  2. In psychiatry, a conflictual agent that blocks behavior that could help resolve a personal struggle.
  3. In psychotherapy, anything that acts as an impediment to the insight, constructive change, healing, and growth of a patient (an unhealthy or primitive defense mechanism; secondary gain; conflicted ambivalence; unconscious motivation derived from residual conflict from an earlier developmental stage; stubbornness; lack of ability to detach, observe, or analyze).

[M.E., fr. O.Fr. barriere, fr. L.L. barraria]

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© Copyright 2018 Wolters Kluwer. All Rights Reserved. Review date: Sep 19, 2016.