Sigmund Freud originally developed the concept of denial as a defense mechanism. Denial involves the rejection of a fact that is too painful for a person to accept.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross expanded upon Freud’s model and proposed that denial is the first stage in accepting one’s death. Denial is now widely accepted as a common stage or aspect of grief.
SIGMUND FREUD’S MODEL
Freud argued that there are three types of denial:
1. Simple denial occurs when someone denies that something unpleasant is happening. For example, a person with terminal cancer might deny that he/she is going to die.
2. Minimization occurs when a person admits an unpleasant fact while denying its seriousness. A person about to get divorced might, for example, brush the divorce off as no big deal.
3. Projection occurs when a person admits both the seriousness and reality of an unpleasant fact but blames someone else. For example, the cancer patient might insist that his or her doctor is providing inadequate care and that a different doctor could provide a different outcome.