Denial is a natural and justifiable and default response in many situations, for example; when we are accused of something or when we need time to consider an offer, the first reaction is to reject the prospect as a defence mechanism that buys time to consider the options. At times we also have to deny negative ideas about ourselves to simply maintain a foothold on aspects of our personality like self-worth or self-esteem.
In day-to-day life, we frequently encounter denial as a retort to something that is not true, does not exist, did not happen, or is not allowed. Though we may ask why it is denied and further challenge it, we more often tend towards tagging denial as valid or faulty against our own belief system.
This casual approach means that we do not lend much thought to the deeper psychological functions of denial.
When we do ask people why they deny something that is blatantly obvious, they usually offer superficial excuses or divert to conceal the discrepancy. The frequency and repetitive nature of this can lead us to ignore hazy denials without further thought. We are so irritated by the lack of common sense and reasoning that we shun meaningful discussion about the subject of denial.
In modern life, enquiries about incidents which are denied can reveal important facts, but we usually only look for tangible facts. Delving into deep mental issues is not a practical option when building a case against someone. We present denial as a plain and simple malicious effort to conceal the truth and we choose to ignore any deeper foundation for it.
We are so conditioned by frequent encounters with denial, that we become inured to it. On top of that, we do not have the professional knowledge, and often lack the time, to properly deal with the complexities of emotional disturbances that lead to instances of false denial.
In psychotherapy, denial is afforded the significance and deeper analysis that it deserves. It is a proven fact that denial is a common response among victims of substance abuse. It ranges from an outright refusal to admit the problem, to partial acceptance and delusional promises of self-control.
Examples of denial
There are different forms of denial. The most common examples are:
- Refusal to comply with or satisfy a request.
- Refusal to admit the truth or reality of unpleasant things.
- Refusal to admit the truth or reality of positive things.
- The assertion that a statement, allegation or proposal is false.
- Refusal of things needed, requested, demanded, desired.
- Rejection of things needed, demanded, requested, desired.
- Reducing what is needed, demanded, requested, and desired.
- A belief created and exists in the imagination only.
- Reluctance to accept that something unpleasant is true.
- Unconsciously disallowing intolerable thoughts and realities.
Professional help with denial in treating substance use disorder patients
Denial is the most common defence used by substance use disorder patients. It may seem like a simple defence to overcome, but when you talk to trained mental professionals, you realise that it is far more complex than you think. If it were easy, it would not be such a big issue for ordinary people who want to help people with mental health issues. They battle it for years, and sometimes they never conquer it.
People who try to help, find that normal attempts to persuade abusers end in unresolved arguments. After a while, people get tired of the fighting. They give up and desert the abuser, but people close to the abuser retain the scars because they did not obtain closure.
If an intervener calls on a professional, experienced substance use disorder therapist for help, they can avoid an unnecessarily long and anguished, hit-and-miss process. In South Africa, we are blessed with highly competent therapists and rehabilitation centres where this issue is treated on a daily basis.
Trying to use common sense, logic, random advice and other self-help efforts rarely succeed. The best option is to contact a therapist in person. When you consider all the emotional and material consequences of a drawn-out DIY process, there is no other option.
Please Note: Self-diagnosis and recuperation techniques based on help and advice gathered from the web can be confusing or inaccurate. If you believe you might be struggling with a related issue, always get in touch with a certified therapist for individual insights specific to your circumstances.
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