Denial is an Awareness Reduction Mechanisms that the Bodily Ego uses to avoid uncomfortable confrontation with ideas, feelings, or realities. Denial is the unconscious or conscious refusal to be aware of some thought, idea, action, or event.
Other Awareness Reduction Mechanisms
Awareness Reduction Mechanisms > Avoidance, Denial, Displacement, Dissociation, Distortion, Distraction, Diversion, Gaslighting, Intellectualization, Internalization, Projection, Rationalization, Reaction Formation, Regression, Repression, Sublimation
Related LP Terms
Non-LP Related Terms
Denial, not a river in Egypt, is the simple verbal refusal to accept reality as it is. Denial is often invoked when there is an external challenge to remember otherwise repressed or suppressed materials. When somebody comes up to you and says, “Hey, do you remember being a bully in school,” your defensive response might be to deny so you do not have to admit and recall. For example, my mom beat me with a wooden spoon and leather belts when I was a child, but when I recalled these events and challenged her as an adult, she denied she ever did it, presumably to prevent feeling bad about some of her actions. Similarly, if you challenge a CEO for cheating in order to not pay taxes, that CEO may deny that they are doing that at all, as Tim Cook did when the U.S. Senate questioned him on his company’s use of offshore subsidiaries to avoid paying billions in taxes.
Denial is rooted in fear, anxiety, and pain. One denies one's actions when one is afraid of what others might do should they learn the truth (Tim Cook might go to jail for tax evasion) or when the awareness brings anxiety or emotional pain (my mother denied her abuse to avoid feeling guilt and shame). To treat, address the underlying fear, anger, guilt, or shame.
Guilt and shame may be resolved by teaching the client to change their behaviours, atone for past negative actions, and teaching them to forgive themselves in order to release guilt and shame. Note, releasing guilt and shame requires concrete behavioural changes and sincere action to atone.
- Brendan Sasso, “Apple CEO Denies Using Tax ‘Gimmicks,’” Text, TheHill, May 21, 2013, https://thehill.com/policy/technology/301043-sen-levin-upbraids-apple-ceo-tim-cook-over-tax-practices.