“Understanding Denial as a Defense Mechanism” Comments, Page 1

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9 Comments (One Discussion Thread) on “Understanding Denial as a Defense Mechanism”

  1. Dr. Simon,
    I agree completely…..I often think bully’s just have an attention need “disorder” negative attention is welcomed. That negative attention of the norm often falls short on providing a solution for changing the behavior….of the bully. Even making them pay for the crime which the offender did doesn’t seem to rise the”bully” to better functioning.

    Denial is definately a misunderstood term. Thanks for the fine line interpretation.


  2. Dr. Simon,

    This is an excellent discussion of the misuse of a common psychological term, and how denial can be a manipulative tactic.

    I look forward to reading more about the other commonly misused terms in mental health.

  3. I’ve really enjoyed everyone’s comments. Unfortunately, “denial” is not the only overused or misused term in mental health. In a few weeks, I’ll be posting a series on the top-ten misused terms. Some of the terms have become so commonly misused that they’ve almost completely lost their original meaning.

    The main point of the current post is that a lot of the behaviors that can be appropriately conceptualized as unconscious defense mechanisms in neurotic personalities are better conceptualized as tactics of impression management, manipulation, and responsibility-avoidance when we’re talking about individuals with character disturbance. “Denial” is just one of those behaviors.

  4. I’m also looking forward to the five top misused terms! Denial, indeed, is a dangerously slippery concept that stretches from actually not hearing something very important which is being said to you to choosing and pretending to not hear it.

    I am finding all your posts very interesting George – in fact so interesting that rather than becoming embroiled in discussion about them (no time!) I have been not commenting at all! “In denial” (sic) about the comments facility :-)

  5. I had to confront a bullying teacher at my child’s school just recently. She used every trick in the book. I heard such excuses as ‘Well that teacher over there does the same thing, have you talked to him?’

    That derailed the conversation for five minutes as we discussed the ‘other’ teacher.

    Then it was …

    “I can’t believe you have been holding on to this offense for so long” Meaning I was the one with the problem not her.

    Then, came the classic

    “I have no recollection of saying that”

    There is no real answer to that, except maybe the one I wish I had used at the time……”Don’t confuse a clear conscience with a bad memory”

    But the real doozie was…

    “I can’t believe I would have said something like that, I am just not that sort of person”.

    So after spending over an hour excusing her behaviour, she then announces to everyone in the room that she couldn’t have done what we say she did, because she is a good person.

    Interestingly, I had already read a great deal on covert-aggressive tactics (from ‘Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing’) so was ready for the tricks she tried. Finallly when I simply refused to accept any more of her excuses and asked her to make an apology, she just glared at me with this horrible death stare. My husband said later it just chilled his blood. We still haven’t had an apology, but this woman is in no doubt as to what we think of her. She no longer teaches our children, but is still at the school. The school’s excuse for this teacher was ‘well, she’s not as bad as she used to be’. Oh, and the excuse we got before we finally confronted the teacher was ‘You are the only ones who have complained about her’…meaning, that we are the ones with the problem, not her. The fact is, she has bullied everyone into submission and everyone else is too scared to confront her or complain including the school administration.

    So, thankyou for all the ammunition Dr. Simon, it has helped my husband and I, and our children to deal with character disordered individuals everywhere. And there seem to be alot of them around don’t you think?

    1. Way to go, Blackbeard! I’m glad you had the ammo and the moxie to use it well. Yes, unfortunately, disturbances and disorders of character are much more common these days, certainly much more common than the pathological levels of neurosis that prompted the foundations of classical psychological paradigms. Only recently has a psychology become available for understanding and dealing with these sorts of persons and that’s why I began my special work years ago. My upcoming book, due out in late spring will take a close look at the cultural roots of the character crisis so prevalent in the world today.

  6. Hi,
    I really enjoyed your articles. I have just realized there are so many people in my life like this-wolves in sheeps clothing. Wow.
    I thought I was sharp when I noticed the passive aggressives right away.

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