Why Do We Turn To Denial As A Defense Mechanism?

Last updated by Katie M.

Sometimes when leads us down tough paths or when we aren’t ready to bear the brutality of a situation, our brains activate their defense systems which causes us to block out certain realities and truths. This process is commonly known as denial, and although it may preserve our feelings and emotions for a certain amount of time; is this really a good solution to dealing with things? Discover the explanations of this phenomenon here.

Why Do We Turn To Denial As A Defense Mechanism?

Being in denial is a common phrase, but what does it really mean? It relates to a phase our brains resort to in order to try and hide harmful information so that we will no longer have access to it for a given period of time. This mechanism plunges us into a scenario where we unconsciously wait for reality to catch up with us when we’re in a better mind frame to accept it. In the meantime, we typically continue the course of our lives as if nothing had happened and do what’s known as bury our heads in the sand.

Denial is a two-way street

Denial is one of our brain's most common defense responses, and we all use it without even realizing it. This phase helps us feel better, yet it can be difficult to even realize we’re going through it. For example, if you question someone going through it, they may not even see what it's all about because they feel so out of the loop.

🧠 It’s a totally unconscious defense device, which serves to refute reality by making information completely inaccessible. The state of denial makes it possible to overcome the insurmountable and to compartmentalize the horrible facts and situations that you are faced with. Here’s when it is often used:

  • To block out words you don't want to hear: The death of a loved one, illness...
  • Situations that you do not want to acknowledge: Addiction, breakups, psychological or physical violence (domestic violence, sexual abuse, etc.), harassment, burn-outs, etc.

➡ Denial is the refusal to acknowledge the reality of a traumatic event. It’s the inability to accept what is happening in our real life, which directs us to a second path on the basis that everything is fine and that nothing bad has happened. It’s perhaps a necessary protection in the management of our emotions, which temporarily shields us from psychological pain.

>>> Discover our tips to loving yourself.

What are the downsides to being in denial?

Although it looks great, this form of defense has its flaws because it is only temporary. During this period of blocking out the reality, a person will use their energy to take the courses of their life without taking into account the reality of the situation. No matter how much time passed, the hurtful facts have been locked away, yet the key used to lock them away will suddenly appear and confront them with what they have been running from.

So, does this phase help us, or, on the contrary, does it encourage us to run from the truth and the consequences? In the moment, denial will reduce tension and anxiety of difficult situations, but it is also important to know that even if it’s unconscious, this state is not without risk because it can have the opposite effect and create neuroses, phobias and obsessions.

The denial mechanism can take on such an overwhelming proportion that we only perceive this reality and ignore everything surrounding us. This is a lure that protects us in the face of a difficult reality, but to what extent and at what cost? Denial in the context of pathologies such as alcoholism, for example. This syndrome allows the alcoholic to ignore their condition while maintaining good self-esteem, but it continues to put their health at risk. In the case of pregnancy denial, both the child and the mother suffer from appropriate medical care, not to mention the psychological shock of the announcement and the resulting anxiety.

>>> Read what you shouldn't do after a breakup.

What’s the solution to dealing with this? Awareness is required to move forward...

A person going through this experience will not be able to solve their issues as long as they are immersed in this unreal world, this is why it is very difficult to get out of it. This process is unconscious, so neither family nor close friends can successfully convince someone to come out of it.

Only the person concerned can get themselves out of this phase, but they will need to take things at their own pace and avoid being rushed. It is this awareness that will allow us to treat the pain, to analyze it and to heal it.

Editor’s opinion: Don't hesitate to consult

When you become aware that something is not going to cause unexplained discomfort, you should not hesitate to consult a therapist. Taking up sophrology can allow you to begin reconstruction work through breathing and relaxation exercises. Working on the "here and now" will allow to work on the harmony of body and mind.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!


Check out the following articles:

Article presented by Katie M.

Discover the world through my eyes.

Read our latest articles here:

Why Do We Feel Better In The Evening When We Have Depression?

If there’s one symptom that can be observed in any type of depression, it’s fatigue. Intense fatigue that sticks to the skin and holds us back like a ball and chain. The problem with this fatigue is that it occurs mainly in the morning, which is one of the reasons why, in the case of depression, we feel better in the evening than in the morning.

Pay Transparency: Why Is Talking About Your Salary So Taboo?

If there’s a world where taboos abound, it’s the world of work. Avoiding opening up, avoiding emotions, avoiding closeness, avoiding anything personal, but above all, the opaque mystery of salaries! The ban is there, never stated, never established, but its scent floats around the subject of salaries. But why is talking about your salary so taboo?

What Job Can Reconcile Your Professional And Home Life?

As the saying goes, ‘we can’t have it all’, but is that really true? Establishing balance in your life is never exactly an easy challenge, but it is the secret to creating happiness is finding the sacred line between your job and your family. That’s right, it's essential to ask yourself how you organize your life, so you can make the most of every moment. So, what job will allow you to reconcile both aspects of your life?

How Does A Narcissist React When They Can’t Control You?

You probably know by now that narcissists only ever look for one thing and one thing only; and that’s control! Whether in their personal or professional life, folks with this personality disorder need to be in the driving seat and the one calling the shots, otherwise all hell breaks loose. Although their cunning and manipulative nature means they are often hard to escape, it is still possible to turn the tables on them and take the upper hand. Yet, you’ll need a thick skin to do so because when they feel their power slipping away, they become even more dangerous and abusive; here’s how they react when that happens.

10 Signs The Narcissist Discarding Phase Has Been Activated

The most important thing to understand when dealing with a narcissist is that their reign of terror won't last forever. Now, whilst their torment underway, it will no doubt be one of the most harrowing things you can mentally go through. However, when the abuser decides they've had enough of you, they'll halt their horrific abuse in a heartbeat and look for someone else. People with narcissistic personality disorders are constantly on the lookout for new prey and when they find someone who fills their criteria, they'll move into the discarding phase of their plan. After all, they aren't very eco-friendly, their motto is out with the old, in with the new!

What Does A Narcissist Hate?

Narcissists are experts in the field of duping and manipulating their victims, yes, that’s right they are true chameleons, which explains why many of them often go undetected. Their behavior is definitely dangerous and means we definitely need to figure out what makes them tick and, in this particular case, what they hate. Understanding what these entitled personalities dislike is one of the keys to best exposing them and freeing their victims from their grip. Now, we all get angry for one reason or another, but people with this personality disorder have different triggers related to the things they despise.

10 Reasons Why Your Ex Slept With Someone Else After Your Breakup

We are all unique individuals, and we, therefore, go about handling breakups and the other obstacles life throws our way, differently. Now, when it comes to breakups, there are those of us that almost become celibate and decide that they can't stand the idea of getting to know anyone ever again. Then, on the other hand, there are those that fill their phones with dating apps and jump from one one-night stand to the next. This second scenario may seem harmless, but once we dig a little deeper into the repercussions of it, we soon realize that sleeping with other people so freshly out of a relationship masks troubling sentiments of unhappiness and uneasiness.

What Is Gaslighting And Why Is It So Dangerous?

Gaslighting is one of the most destabilizing and covert forms of manipulation out there, and often makes victims feel completely lost and broken. This scary scenario essentially involves brainwashing via deception and is frequently characterized by blatant denial and emotional blackmail. ‘No, darling, I would never lie to you. I love you too much for that. Remember, it was you who stained my collar with lipstick... you forget everything.’ This is a classic example of this type of abuse, and trust me, I should know because I’ve been through it...

Can A Narcissist Be Faithful?

Narcissists often get bad press, and although many of us try to see the best in most people, in their case, it can be extremely difficult to find. The truth is, folks with this personality disorder don’t exactly have many redeeming qualities that could potentially help to excuse and explain their borderline evil behavior. Plus, when it comes to love, their lack of empathy means they have next to no loyalty, which means many of them often end up cheating on their partners. Ladies, if you are in a relationship with a narcissist, the alarm bells ought to be truly deafening.

Help, Why Do I Attract Narcissists?

After a succession of dating disasters, I decided that it was time I took a step back to analyze the root of my consistent heartbreak. Being on the dating scene is tough, and meeting new people just isn’t as easy as they make it out to be. Although, that being said, meeting toxic monsters seems to be a lot less complicated, well at least for me, it seems that way, that’s right, I have a real talent for it. So, after deleting all of my apps and going on a dating hiatus for several months, I finally understand why I attract people with narcissistic personality disorders, who do nothing but break me down and subject me to narcissistic abuse.

Wengood's favorite tunes 🎵

Wengood's playlist


  1. Only LoveBen Howard
  2. Let It BE - Beatles Awaken2Now (See Thru Oppositional 2’s)
  3. Fix YouColdplay
  4. Beautiful DayU2
  5. Thinking out LoudEd Sheeran
  6. White FlagDido
  7. Lay Me DownSam Smith
  8. Nine Million BicyclesKatie Melua
  9. Put Your Records OnCorinne Bailey Rae
  10. Summertime SadnessLana Del Rey
  11. Imagine - Remastered 2010John Lennon
  12. Shake It OutFlorence + The Machine
  13. Space Oddity - Love You Til Tuesday versionDavid Bowie
  14. What A Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong
  15. With Or Without YouU2
  16. HelloAdele
  17. Don't Stop Me NowQueen
  18. Skinny LoveBirdy
  19. WingsBirdy
  20. Californian SoilLondon Grammar

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." 

- Oscar Wilde

How to detect a narcissist

How to detect a narcissist

How to soothe an anxiety attack

How to soothe an anxiety attack