Denial is an unconscious defence mechanism.

April 18th, 2010

How painful would you imagine it is for a father to recognise that his drinking has taken precedence over his love for his children and his own self preservation?

For a daughter to realise just how badly she’s hurt her parents and siblings and effectively squandered their hard earned money on her drug addiction as well as blown her schooling career?

Possibly the most dangerous effect of being addicted to alcohol or other drugs is the unconscious defence mechanism of denial. Once addicted the mental obsession and physical compulsion to use is powerful that the mind finds ways to rationalise the ongoing drinking/using and the consequences thereof. Once addicted, people can drastically underestimate the quantity of drink and drugs they take, just how much it effects their lives, and the amount of control they have over their drink or drug use.

Denial is an unconscious defence mechanism. Minimizing amounts and behaviours engaged in to get and use and find ways and means of getting more, as well as and rationalising the ongoing addiction is less painful than acknowledging that the drug or alcohol use is uncontrollable with perilous consequences for yourself and your loved ones. A common definition provided by family and friends of people addicted to alcohol or other drugs, including gambling, eating disorders and sex addictions, is that people with an addictive disorder, when confronted with the existence of those disorders, deny that they have a substance abuse problem and/or have lost control of it. This is denial in its simplest form and may very well have been experienced by friends and family of addicted people. What’s more interesting about addictive disorders, and requires professional treatment, is the unconscious defence mechanism of denial.

It’s not just addicted people that experience denial either; people diagnosed with a serious illness may also go through a period of Denial around their illness. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified denial as one of the 5 stages of Grief and being in Denial is a natural defence mechanism that’s in place to protect us from a reality that just too painful to acknowledge.

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