Addiction A-Z

Denial

According to Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, denial is a defense mechanism used when people are faced with information that is too uncomfortable to accept. Instead, they reject the fact and insist that it is not true, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. There are three main types of denial: simple denial, which entails disclaiming the existence of the fact in its entirety; minimization, which means admitting the fact but denying that it is serious; and projection, which involves admitting that the fact exists and is serious but disclaiming responsibility for the situation.

When dealing with addiction, denial is an important concept to understand. Denial enables addicts to continue their unhealthy use or behavior despite objectively overwhelming evidence that a problem exists. Many addiction professionals refuse to force a person into treatment, believing that denial will often remain and sabotage treatment, even after the person enters rehab. An effective intervention, on the other hand, acknowledges denial and works to reduce or eliminate it so that the person can enter treatment with a more open mind. Overcoming denial also plays a major part in self-help and 12-step programs.

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