What are the negative consequences of unresolved denial?

Co-dependents, addicts, compulsive gamblers and alcoholics are very adept at using denial. Whether consciously or habitually denial can cause real problems in communications with other people. Here is a partial list of such problems.

Unresolved denial can result in: 

  • Delusional thinking, leading to a feeling that everything is OK, even when it is not.
  • Greater conflict between the deniers and the non-deniers.
  • Fantasy or magical thinking, allowing distorted thinking to become a habit.
  • Poor problem-solving and decision-making abilities for the denier.
  • The denier totally avoiding or withdrawing from everyone who knows of the loss or problem.
  • The denier becoming a social recluse.
  • Others avoiding the denier to avoid upsetting them with their concern, questions, or reassurance.
  • Frustration for those who want to help the denier.
  • A maladaptive pattern of coping with the loss or problem for the denier.
  • Everyone involved in the life of the denier joining the denial; the problem is not confronted honestly by those who can do something about it.
  • Resentment by the denier of those who are confronting them about the problems or loss.
  • Prolonging the time before the denier must confront the pain, hurt, and suffering involved in the loss or problem.
  • The denier projecting the problem or the results of the loss onto others.
  • The denier’s use of rationalization to explain away the problem or loss.
  • Exacerbation of the very problems being denied.

Through out the 12 Step programs are many opportunities to change denial behaviour. Listening to others share their experience, strength and hope helps to dismantle denial.


Related Reading:

The Turmoil of Someone Else's Drinking
Taking Back Your Life: Women and Problem Gambling
The Cure for Alcoholism: The Medically Proven Way to Eliminate Alcohol Addiction
Denial: A Biblical Analysis of a Destructive Defence Mechanism