Denial (also called abnegation) is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence. The subject may use:
- simple denial – deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether
- minimization – admit the fact but deny its seriousness (a combination of denial and rationalization)
- projection – admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility.
Denial of responsibility
This form of denial involves avoiding personal responsibility by:
- blaming – a direct statement shifting culpability and may overlap with denial of fact
- minimizing – an attempt to make the effects or results of an action appear to be less harmful than they may actually be, or
- justifying – when someone makes a choice and attempts to make that choice look okay due to their perception of what is “right” in a situation.
Someone using denial of responsibility is usually attempting to avoid potential harm or pain by shifting attention away from themselves. For example:
Troy breaks up with his girlfriend because he is unable to control his anger, and then blames her for everything that ever happened.