Denial Can Endanger Your Health

  • Denial of reality: refusal to accept reality because it is too threatening; or arguing against an anxiety-provoking stimulus by claiming it does not exist; or refusing to acknowledge unpleasant reality; example: escaping anxiety about COVID by claiming it is a hoax.
  • Distortion of reality: gross alteration of reality according to one’s own needs to protect their highly vulnerable self-esteem.
  • Conversion: conflict within the person becomes expressed as a physical symptom.
  • Splitting: segregating internal realities that are in conflict so that only one of the conflicting realities is in awareness at any time thereby keeping internal conflict our of awareness.
  • Concrete thinking: black-and-white (all good vs. all bad; safe vs dangerous) thinking avoids anxiety caused if unable to tolerate ambiguity.
  • Devaluation: seeing others as inferior and unworthy (even as having no right to exist) while elevating one’s own self as superior and entitled.
  • Denial with delusional projection: the belief that they are being persecuted by people who assert the reality they deny. Here is a recent example of denial combined with paranoid projection. On Monday, it was revealed that Bill Crews, one of Fauci’s aides ran an anti-Fauci web site and blog. The Daily Beast says Crews believed Fauci is part of an anti-Trump conspiracy and called Fauci an “attention-grubbing and media-whoring . . . mask nazi.” The Daily Beast quotes a Crews blog as stating “I think we’re at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by ‘experts’ who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed. If there were justice, we’d send and [sic] few dozen of these fascists to the gallows and gibbet their tarred bodies in chains until they fall apart.” Crews has resigned.
  • Fantasy: retreat into fantasy as the solution to a conflict or use of a fantasied relation to alleviate loneliness.
  • Projection: disowning feeling and attributing it to another person; example: “I hate him becomes he hates me.”
  • Introjection: the reverse of projection; taking ownership of another person’s attributes
  • Passive aggression: indirect expression of hostility.
  • Acting out: behavior driving by emotion the person is unaware of.
  • Projective identification: behaving in a way that causes another person to experience a disowned feeling or urge.
  • Wishful thinking/magical thinking/illusion of control: avoiding anxiety through belief that superstition, magic, or religious faith will produce the desired outcome.
  • Withdrawal: avoidance as a way to escape anxiety.
  • Intellectualization: distancing from the emotional factors when making a decision.
  • Reaction formation: believing the opposite because what is true causes anxiety; covering up an attitude that is unacceptable by doing the opposite.
  • Dissociation: disconnecting emotional interest.
  • Displacement: redirecting aggressive behavior to a safer target.
  • Somatization: like conversion, escaping anxiety by transforming it into a physical symptom.
  • Repression: making desire unconscious.
  • Obsessive control: having to be in control of every situation to avoid anxiety.
  • Rationalization: toying with reality to come up with a desirable view of reality.
  • Humor: sweetening unpleasant truths through witticism.
  • Sublimation: like displacement, except healthier because the aggression is discharged acceptably, such as in sports.
  • Suppression: consciously delaying gratification.
  • Altruism: bringing pleasure to others for personal satisfaction.
  • Anticipation: planned control of a situation to avoid anxiety.

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Capt Tom Bunn

Capt Tom Bunn

Tom Bunn is a retired airline captain and licensed therapist. He is the originator of the SOAR Fear of Flying Program.