Denial as a Coping Mechanism

Our childhood circumstances might be such that we preserve our self-integrity by filtering out certain things from our environment or daily influences at that time. May be it was the difficult financial circumstances, parents constantly fighting over things, and then divorcing, or they not being around because they we too busy with work or a whole host of other things.

While the reasons may vary, one thing the child might do to cope with the circumstances is to block out the stimuli, in an attempt to avoid the fear and pain. A small child, tender and vulnerable as he/she is, may find it very difficult to tolerate. This may serve the child very well and help the organism survive. You could call it an evolutionary imperative.

However, the flip side of this is that this behavior can get ingrained as a mental pattern and carry into adulthood. As an adult, this denial can mask itself as ‘optimism’ or ‘viewing the glass as half full’ or looking at things with rose-tinted glasses. While this pattern is likely to be helpful in maintaining a positive outlook in some difficult situations, it is also likely to do significant damage in many parts of ones life. In fact, some of the difficult situations might have been brought about because of this distorted outlook.

The pattern of denial becomes a blind spot for us and in not seeing circumstances and facts ‘as they are’, we are distorting our observation and may be breeding disorder in our lives, unbeknown to us.

That brings up the deeper question of what really are the facts of a given situation in our lives and who is the psychological entity that is attempting to ascertain the facts.