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  • Writer's pictureAlexander James

How Do We Use Denial?

When faced with a difficult issue or problem, some people go into a state of denial. This is a defence mechanism that helps the mind to cope with a distressing situation. It can serve a useful purpose, for example to protect ourselves from emotions that we are not ready to deal with, and let us function more or less normally. However, a state of denial can become a permanent coping mechanism, and this can mean that a problem that needs addressing, such as addiction, is not dealt with. If difficult emotions and memories are kept locked up and never fully dealt with, this can manifest itself in negative behaviours, and may lead to anxiety or depression. What are the signs of denial? It is not always easy to know if we or others are in denial, because by its very nature it avoids engaging with issues directly. Sometimes, a problem can be hiding in plain sight, but the people concerned can go on for years without ever really addressing it. The famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud argued that there are three different forms of denial. The first is a straightforward denial that a distressing event has happened, or is happening. For example, the sudden loss of a loved one may be too much for a person to process at once, and they go through a stage of denial. In fact, denial is identified as the first natural stage of grief by many psychologists. This may be followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance. Some people prefer to work through these stages alone, while others benefit from the help of a professional therapist. Simple denial may also be a coping method used by addicts. Another form of denial is known as ‘minimisation’. This is when a person acknowledges an issue, but plays down the seriousness of it. For example, an alcoholic may justify their drinking habits by comparing themselves to friends who drink much more, or saying that because they only drink at certain times of day, they are not addicted. A third type of denial is referred to as ‘projection’. This is when a person is able to fully acknowledge the seriousness or unpleasantness of a situation, but they put the blame or responsibility onto someone else. For example, in the case of addiction, a person might blame it on a stressful job or a demanding partner. How can you help someone in denial? If you have identified denial in yourself or others that appears to be more than a temporary coping mechanism in a difficult circumstance, then it is important to address the issue. Talking to a trusted friend or family member who can help you see the situation in a more objective light may help. Some people find it beneficial to work with a trained therapist, who can help them to seperate their thoughts, emotions, and actions. This can offer a new perspective and clarity on a situation, and lead to way to a happier and more constructive way of thinking and dealing with it. If you would like some information about Harley Street hypnotherapy, please get in touch today.

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