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People keep mentioning denial, but what do they really mean?

Denial may be seen as the inability to see the problem accurately. It is the simplest and most common of the ego defense mechanisms, and inability or refusal is a protection mechanism to avoid pain or anxiety. Other common reasons to deny are ignorance, true lack of knowledge about the problem, cognitive impairment which limits the ability to think clearly about anything including the addiction, and shame. Shame will warrant a separate article, but it may be the humiliation, disgrace and stigma associated with the addiction label inconsistent with one’s current identity. In addiction, this may apply to the chemically dependent individual, or to the co-dependent.

Terrance Gorski, noted author in the addiction field, offers this list of denial.

1. AVOIDANCE “I’ll talk about anything but my real problems!”
2. ABSOLUTE DENIAL “No not me, I don’t have problems.”
3. MINIMIZING “My problems aren’t that bad.”
4. RATIONALIZING “If I can find good enough reasons for my problems, I won’t have to deal with them!”
5. BLAMING “If I can prove that my problems are not my fault, I won’t have to deal with them!”
6. COMPARING “Showing that others are worse than me proves that I don’t have serious problems.”
7. COMPLIANCE “I’ll pretend to do what you want if you’ll leave me alone.”
8. MANIPULATING “I’ll only admit that I have problems if you agree to solve them for me.”
9. FLIGHT INTO HEALTH “Feeling better means I’m cured.”
10. RECOVERY BY FEAR “Being scared of my problems will make them go away.”
11. STRATEGIC HOPELESSNESS “Since nothing works, I don’t have to try.”
12. DEMOCRATIC DISEASE STATE “I have the right to destroy myself and no one has the right to stop me!”

Have you heard these from a loved one? Have you used them yourself? None of these denial strategies work well, or work for long. Treatment helps. Learn more by watching WYNK flash videos pertinent to your situation.

by: Lois Cochrane Schlutter, Ph.D. L.P.

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