A denial, is asserting that a statement or allegation is not true. It was postulated by Sigmund Freud; denial is when a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it, insisting that it is not true despite overwhelming evidence.
It may be:
- simple denial: deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether
- minimization: admit the fact but deny its seriousness (a combination of denial and rationalization)
- projection: admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility by blaming somebody or something else.
The concept of denial is particularly acute in the field of addiction. The theory of denial was first researched by Anna Freud. She classified denial as a mechanism of an immature mind, conflicts with the ability in learning from and coping with reality.
Denial to the mature minds occurs and often associated with death, dying and rape.
Understanding denial and its purpose
Denial is the psychological process where a painful truth is pushed out of an individual's consciousness. We use denial as a defense mechanism, to protect ourselves from the force of a truth; we imagine will be too shattering for us to cope with. When someone we love dies suddenly, for example, for many months we may keep expecting them to come home as usual. We 'deny' their death, because we can't cope with the loss.
Some of the feelings behind your denial may be:
- Fear of getting worse
- Fear of losing control.
- Anger at being ill or in pain.
- Anger at you or others for not understanding what it means to be sick.
- Anger to medical personnel for seeming insensitive or indifferent.
- Frustrated by mixed feelings about reaching out to others.
Humans are chronically attached to the past. We don't like separation from what's familiar: it makes us feel deeply insecure. From the moment of birth when we had to leave the womb, or the time of weaning when we had to leave the breast. Courage and psychological strength are needed to face an unknown future - especially when the future seems to be governed by forces beyond our control. But also we don't want to change our pattern of living because we high-consumers have been having a pretty good time. We like our 'modern' high-tech lifestyles, full of gadgets and glitter.
Refusing to acknowledge that something's wrong is a way of coping with emotional conflict, stress, painful thoughts, threatening information and anxiety.
When you're in denial, you:
- Refuse to acknowledge a stressful problem or situation
- Avoid facing the facts of the situation
- Minimize the consequences of the situation
In its strictest sense, denial is an unconscious process. You don't generally decide to be in denial about something. But some research suggests that denial might have a conscious component — on some level, you might choose to be in denial.
You can be in denial about anything that makes you feel vulnerable or threatens your sense of control, such as:
- A chronic or terminal illness
- Depression or other mental health conditions
- Financial problems
- Job difficulties
- Relationship conflicts
- Traumatic events
You can be in denial about something happening to you or to someone else.
Situations in which denial can be helpful
Refusing to face facts might seem blatantly unhealthy. Sometimes, though, a short period of denial can be helpful. Being in denial gives your mind the opportunity to unconsciously absorb shocking or distressing information at a pace that won't send you into a psychological tailspin.
After a traumatic event, you might need several days or weeks to fully process what's happened and come to grips with the challenges ahead. Imagine what might happen if you find a lump in your throat. You might feel a rush of fear and adrenaline as you imagine its cancer. So you decide to ignore the lump, hoping it'll go away on its own. But when the lump is still there a week later, you consult your doctor.
This type of denial is a helpful response to stressful information. You initially denied the distressing problem. As your mind absorbed it, however, you came to approach it more rationally and took action by seeking help.
Situations in which denial can be harmful
But what if you had continued to be in denial and tried to forget about it entirely? What if you never sought help? If denial persists and prevents you from taking appropriate action, it's a harmful response.
Consider these examples of unhealthy denial:
- A college student witnesses a violent shooting but claims not to be affected by it.
- The partner of an older man in the end stage of life refuses to discuss health care directives and wills, insisting that he's getting better.
- An administrator periodically misses a morning meeting after drinking excessively the night before, but insists there's no problem because the work is still getting done.
- A couple are ringing up so much credit card debt that they toss the bills aside because they can't bear to open them.
- The parents of a young daughter with drug addiction keep giving her "clothing" money.
In situations such as these, denial might prevent you or your loved one from getting help, such as treatment or counseling, or dealing with problems that can spiral out of control — all with potentially devastating long-term consequences.
14 types of denial
1. Global Thinking
Attempting to justify something with terms like “always” or “never” or “whatsoever”. It also can be something along the lines of “every guy does this”.
Justifying unacceptable behavior saying things like “I don’t have a problem, I’m just sexually liberated”, or “You’re crazy”, or “I can go months without this, so I don’t have a problem”. Rationalization is telling yourself Rational Lies.
Trying to make behavior or consequences seem smaller or less important than they are saying things like “only a little”, or “only once in a while”, or “it’s no big deal”, or simply telling the story in a better light than it really should be.
Shifting focus to someone else to justify behaviors such as “I’m not as bad as…”
Thinking you are different or special saying things like “My situation is different” or “I was hurt more” or “That’s fine for you, but I’m too busy”. This one can also be considered Entitlement.
6. Distraction (Avoiding by creating an uproar or distraction)
Being a clown and getting everyone laughing, having angry outbursts meant to frighten or intimidate others, threats and posturing, and doing shocking behavior that may even be sexual. When we simply blow up upon being confronted hoping that our explosion will draw attention rather than the actual issue.
7. Avoiding by Omission
This is trying to change the subject, ignore the subject, or manipulate the conversation to avoid talking about something. It is also leaving out important bits of information like the fact that the lover is underage, or the person is a close friend of your spouse, or revealing enough information while keeping back the most “dangerous” information that will get you in more trouble.
Shifting the blame and responsibility from yourself to another person, and is done unconsciously since we really don’t want to be held responsible for something. This includes, “Well, you would cruise all night, too, if you had my job”, or “If my spouse weren’t so cold…” or “I can’t help it, the baby cries day and night and makes me nervous”.
Avoiding feelings and responsibility by thinking or by asking why. Trying to explain everything but getting lost in detail, a rabbit trails, and/or a tall storytelling. This often includes pretending superior intellect and using intelligence as a weapon.
10. Victim Mentality (Hopelessness/Helplessness)
This is where a person says, “I’m a victim”, or “I can’t help it”, or “There is nothing I can do to get better” or “I’m the worst”.
11. Manipulative behavior
This usually involves some distortion of reality including the use of power, lies, secrets, or guilt to exploit others.
This is something that almost every addict does. This is separating your life into compartments in which you do things that you keep separate from other parts of your life. This is like a Jekyll and Hyde or a separation of Public and Private life to the point where it is unhealthy driven by thoughts of “If they only knew, then…”
13. Crazy making
This occurs when we are confronted by others who DO have a correct perception… we simply tell them that they are totally wrong. We act indignantly toward them attempting to make them feel crazy by simply positing that they cannot trust their own perceptions.
The use of charm, humor, good looks, or helpfulness to gain sexual access and cover up insincerity.
Moving past denial
Denial acts as a buffer, giving us time to absorb the full impact of an upsetting experience or shock. It is helpful at first, but not if it continues.
You can ask yourself if any of the following signs of denial are present in yourself:
- You feel as though you are in a daze, are easily distracted, and do not fully perceive things around you.
- You are going through the motions with little awareness of those around you.
- You are concocting fantasies to explain what has happened. You are misinterpreting what others are saying or doing.
- You are less efficient, and small tasks appear very complicated. You are obsessing about minor details and avoiding larger responsibilities.
- Your emotions are blocked. You feel mechanical or you may explode easily, taking you and others by surprise.
- You feel a variety of aches and pains which are unexplained. These are signals.
- You avoid situations that bring you into contact with a reality you want to avoid.
It isn't always easy to tell if denial is holding you back. If you feel stuck or if someone you trust suggests that you're in denial state. However, you might try these strategies:
- Honestly ask yourself what you fear.
- Think about the potential negative consequences of not taking action.
- Allow yourself to express your fears and emotions.
- Try to identify irrational beliefs about your situation.
- Journal about your experience.
- Open up to a trusted friend or loved one.
- Participate in a support group.
To confront your denial means you must feel, understand, and express the emotions behind the denial.http://www.throughtheflame.org/forum/general-discussion/2447.htm
Excerpt and extracts taken from with many thanks :
Excerpt and extracts taken from with many thanks :