Denial is serious.
It’s a refusal to recognize truth or reality.
Oftentimes, it has advantages, but it can also be our undoing and can have life-threatening consequences.
Denial is specifically dangerous on a group level.
We see this in sub-cultures, religion, and politics.
People, families, and whole groups refute abuse, addiction, racism, genocide, corruption, and criminality.
It can mean denying something positive as well as negative.
We might also deny our rights, our power, and our abilities, which keeps us from asserting ourselves and achieving our goals.
Denial is a defense mechanism
Denial is the first and easiest psychological defense mechanism.
Generally, kids refute wrongdoing to prevent reprimand.
Adults refute wrongdoing, too, notably politicians, criminals, abusers, addicts, and adulterers.
Conscious lies are typically motivated by self-preservation and fear of punishment.
While not commendable, they are comprehensible, though less sympathetic when inspired by a pursuit for power.
What’s more problematic is our denial in believing them.
Typically, denial is unconscious.
We all do it. It can be tricky to understand something that is unconscious.
We not only fool ourselves, we forget, excuse, rationalize, and minimize.
We may be conscious of the facts, but deny or minimize the consequences, or even recognize them, but stubbornly refuse to adjust or get help.
Why we deny
Our brain is hardwired for survival, and denial provides that function.
There are numerous reasons for denial, which includes dodging of physical or emotional pain.
Denial is adaptive when it aids us to cope with challenging emotions, as in the early stages of grief following the loss of a loved one, specifically if the separation or death is abrupt.
Denial permits our body-mind to adjust to the shock more progressively.
Denial also builds cohesion, specifically between loved ones.
It’s a unifying force between spouses, and among families, groups, or political parties.
We ignore things that may trigger arguments, hurt, or separation.
One study demonstrated that folks will forgive a member of a clique four to five times more than a unknown person.
Idealization supports denial and blinds us to anything that would mar respect for a partner, family or group member, or leader.
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