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Understanding The Concept Of Denial

In our daily lives, we tend to refuse, accept and acknowledge many things. For instance, when our room is messy and suddenly mom asks who did this? Our first reaction most probably would be to deny the act and blame it on someone else. This refusal to accept things is called denial that we do on daily basis. Sometimes, a denial is too painful and stress-oriented that the individual might not want to discuss it with someone.  

Denial is a psychological defense mechanism in which we tend to deny things that make us anxious. Have you ever experienced this? Especially when you ask your friend about something traumatic in their life like business loss, rejection, or exam failure. Their possible answer often would be that they don’t want to talk about it. Thus, we tend to deny things that hold unpleasant emotions for us. 

How can we Spot/detect denial? 

There are few indications through which we can presume that the other person might be in a state of denial. These few common indications are: 

• Refusal to discuss the issue. 

• Making excuses to explain actions. 

• Attribute the problem to other individuals or external forces. 

• Despite unfavorable outcomes, continues to engage in similar behavior. 

• Stating that he/she will handle the issue in the future. 

• Trying to avoid thinking about the issue. 

Types of Denial  

Denial of fact: When a person lies to avoid a fact, this is known as the ‘denial of fact’. This lying might take the form of direct deception, missing out key elements to shape a tale  (omission), or fraudulently agreeing to something or someone.  Someone who is in the ‘denial of fact’ would usually tell lies to avoid facts that they believe might be hurtful to themselves or others.

Denial of responsibility: This type of denial involves blaming, minimizing, or justifying one’s culpability. Blaming is a straightforward remark that shifts blame and might be confused with ‘denial of reality’. Minimizing is a strategy for making an action’s consequences or effects appear to be less detrimental than they are. Justifying is often used when someone plans and then tries to justify it based on their opinion of what is “right” in their context.  

Denial of impact: ‘Denial of impact’ happens when a person avoids thinking about or recognizing the consequences of their actions. This allows the individual to avoid feeling guilty and prevents them from feeling remorse or empathetic towards others. ‘Denial of impact’ lessens or removes the feeling of pain and injury caused by incorrect choices/decisions. 

Denial of awareness: The notion of state-dependent learning clarifies this form of denial.  By claiming to be in a different level of awareness, people use this form of denial to avoid suffering from harm (such as use of alcohol or drug intoxication or on occasion their mental health-related). ‘Denial of accountability’ frequently occurs alongside this form of denial. 

Denial in Addictive Behaviors 

Denial is highly widespread, especially among individuals who are battling with addictive behaviors.  In our society, no one wants to confess that they have a problem with alcohol, drugs, or gambling because their denial helps them to disguise the truth. A person in denial may engage in a variety of actions, including: 

Minimization. In minimization, the individual will say others are blowing things out of proportion about their condition. For Instance, in case of alcohol abuse or any other addiction;  the individual will say I don’t consume as much as compared to the others. They may also say, “It’s not that  horrible,” or “others do a lot more than I do.” 

Rationalization: People with addiction will make excuses to justify their behavior.  They may claim that they were stressed out and needed a little help to get through the day, or that they have earned it as a reward for their hard work. 

Self-deception: It is a powerful denial technique in which an individual convince themselves that things aren’t as horrible or as serious as they might appear to be. People in addiction frequently do not recognize their own addictive behaviors; such as causing problems for them and their family members or loved ones. Addicts in deception also ignore the evidence that they are problematic. Failure of self-knowledge increases the likelihood of their problematic behavior.

How IZR helps in the management of Denial?  

Innovative Zone Rehabilitation provides psychotherapy, psychoeducation, support groups, and counseling services which are beneficial to overcome denial patterns. 

In psychotherapy, our professionals help the client to learn, recognize and identify human defense mechanisms. It helps an individual to increase self-awareness and understanding about their behavior to identify denial. Then they are also encouraged to learn coping strategies. 

In psychoeducation, the client is taught self-awareness about addiction along with the psychological techniques, and skills to helps the client to cope better with their condition. Family psychoeducation is also provided to overcome the stigma and to increase their awareness regarding addiction.

People can share their personal experiences in addiction support groups at IZR. When cravings strikes, addiction support groups can offer emotional counselling and support. Some of the advantages of participating in an addiction support group is to meet with new people who desire to live a sober lifestyle. 

Counseling for addiction is a scientifically valid treatment method that helps a person to recognize and modify their problematic ideas, feelings, and actions. Sharing emotions and experiences in a safe space and therapeutic setting can help a person to communicate and to cope with stress better. Counselling in addiction also aids in the development of goals and coping strategies. For the treatment of substance abuse, cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectic behavioral therapy are considered highly beneficial. In Cognitive behavioral therapy at IZR certain things are taught which are helpful to overcome denial:

• Considering why you’re frightened to confront the issue. 

• Thinking about the repercussions of not addressing the issue. 

• Speaking to a close friend. 

• Cost-benefit analysis (Advantages and disadvantages of a denial pattern).

• Distorted thinking is identified and modified which breaks the chain of denial and allows rational thinking.

Written By: Sohaib Khan

To read article this in Urdu; download the pdf file attached below:

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