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Denial: Benefits and Dangers of Emotional Blindness

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

Man in denial with head in the sand


Benefits and Danger of Emotional Blindness

Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert

Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine

Denial is characterized by the refusal to acknowledge or accept painful truths, distressing thoughts, and uncomfortable feelings despite overwhelming evidence that the reality exists.

Denial is not always a bad thing. It is normal to engage in small amounts from time to time and we all use it. It can be a beneficial mechanism that absorbs emotional shock and protects our psychological health. It helps us temporarily cope with tough situations such as grieving, disasters, or trauma that might otherwise interfere with our ability to function. It gives us time to adjust to traumatic changes that occur in our lives.

When used to cope with life for short, critical periods of time, denial is healthy and beneficial. It only becomes a problem when we use it for extended periods of time to avoid accepting a truth and working through our issues, and when we become stuck in an emotionally blind mindset that prevents us from moving forward.

Freud theorized that defense mechanisms such as denial are strategies used by the unconscious mind to manipulate, deny, or distort reality in order to defend against feelings of anxiety and unacceptable impulses. He breaks the use of denial into ten categories: Rejection, Repression, Suppression, Displacement, Sublimation, Projection, Intellectualization, Rationalization, Regression, and Reaction Formation.