From ArticleWorld

Denial is a psychological defense mechanism that is used at times when events are too painful or difficult to accept even when the facts are indisputable. It is used commonly when faced with news of a death or an impending one. The first reaction is one of denial and this has come to form the first step of the five stages a dying patient goes through formulated by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The use of this mechanization in this situation is considered understandable and acceptable.

However, it is not considered a mature response when used to avoid coping with reality and learning from life. Anna Freud, who was the first to look into denial seriously, termed it a mechanism of the immature mind. There are three stages of denial: it can be complete which has been termed ‘simple denial’, ‘minimisation’ occurs when the fact is admitted to be true but the severity of it is not and ‘transference’ means that the fact and severity are acknowledged but responsibility is denied.

Denial and addiction

Addicts use denial in each of its three forms and their inability to acknowledge the consequences of their behaviour, or even to see it, is what enables them to continue down their destructive path. Of the twelve steps in the rehabilitation programme, five are centred on accepting rather than denying the addiction and its consequences.

Denial and medicine

Denial is also the reason many people do not seek preventative treatment that may save their lives. Fear of cancer, for example, means that those most at risk of it delay tests and the American Heart Association states that more heart attacks could be avoided if potential victims didn’t deny the importance of the symptoms they feel and seek medical help sooner.