Me: I think you are in denial.
Him: Huh, what?
Me: Denial. Denial. Do you know what denial is?
Him: Yeah, a river in Eygpt.
Denial is a terrible thing.
It means you refuse to acknowledge there is a problem.
It means you cannot see that you have a problem.
This is largely due to the fact that YOU are the problem.
People who are in denial think that everyone else is the problem – that they themselves are ok.
I know someone who’s in a world of troubles but of course it’s never his fault, he’s never a contributing factor – it’s always someone else’s fault. He himself is perfect, he can do no wrong. Yup, three divorces, and a dysfunctional family and of course he has nothing to do with it.
Psychologists will define denial as “a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.”
To me, once you take away the mumbo jumbo – in this age of Twitter and witter it is important to know what the facts are – denial is simply someone sticking his head into the ground like an ostrich and refusing to face facts.
Many alcoholics are in denial, many gambling addicts are in denial, that is why programs designed to wean people off addiction start with getting the addicts to face up to their addition and to accept the fact that they need help.
In fact, step one of the 12-Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous states “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
That’s only the first step.
What is impressive about AA is that these steps are also encouraged of those who attend AA meetings:
“8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”
Also “9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
AA just about sums up how we can run away from denial – admit that we need help, and make amends to those we’ve hurt by our mistakes.
If only more people can learn from such precepts.
We don’t need to become alcoholics to know this.