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The Danger of Denial: How Pretending Everything is Normal Can Lead to Mental Disorders

In the vast expanse of human emotions, there exists a silent but potent enemy: denial.

It's a defence mechanism that many of us employ, often subconsciously, to shield ourselves from painful realities. The quote, "One of the easiest ways to fall into the trap of mental disorder is to be in a state of denial and pretending everything is normal," sheds light on this perilous path. Let's delve deeper into the implications of this statement and understand why denial can be so detrimental to our mental well-being.

The Nature of Denial

Denial is a psychological mechanism that helps us reject or ignore distressing facts or emotions. It's like wearing rose-tinted glasses, where we choose to see only what we want, even if reality paints a different picture. While it might offer temporary relief, it's a short-term solution with long-term consequences.

Why Do We Resort to Denial?

Humans are wired to seek comfort. When faced with situations that challenge our sense of security or self-worth, our instinct is to retreat to a safer mental space. Denial serves as a protective bubble, shielding us from the harshness of reality. Whether it's a traumatic event, a personal failure, or even a global crisis, pretending it doesn't exist can seem like the easiest way out.

Denying the Bigger Picture: How We Turn a Blind Eye to Global Realities

In an interconnected world, where information is at our fingertips, it's paradoxical to think that many of us often deny the truth of situations, especially when they pertain to global matters. This isn't just about personal denial; it's about collective denial, a phenomenon deeply rooted in psychology. Let's explore this from a psychological perspective:

Cognitive Dissonance: This is a psychological theory that explains the discomfort people feel when confronted with conflicting beliefs or realities. To resolve this dissonance, individuals might downplay the crisis or dismiss scientific evidence.

The Bystander Effect: On a global scale, when issues seem too vast or complex, individuals often believe that someone else will address them. This diffusion of responsibility, known as the bystander effect, can lead to inaction and denial. If everyone assumes someone else will take the lead, collective denial ensues.

Normalcy Bias: This cognitive bias causes people to underestimate the possibility of a disaster and its potential adverse effects. Even when faced with stark evidence, individuals believe that things will always function the way they normally have. This bias can lead to a lack of preparedness and denial of impending crises.

Psychological Distance: Global issues, especially those not immediately affecting an individual, can seem distant and abstract. This psychological distance makes it easier to detach and deny. For instance, a famine in a far-off country might not resonate as much as a local issue, leading to indifference and denial.

Recognizing these psychological underpinnings is crucial. Only by understanding the reasons behind our collective denial can we hope to address global challenges effectively. It's essential to foster a culture of awareness, critical thinking, and empathy, ensuring that we not only acknowledge global realities but also actively participate in finding solutions.

The Link Between Denial and Mental Disorders

Prolonged denial can lead to a range of mental health issues. Here's how:

Suppressed Emotions: By denying our feelings, we push them deep down, letting them fester. Over time, this can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

Distorted Reality: Continuously ignoring the truth can warp our perception of reality. This distorted worldview can result in conditions like paranoia or delusional disorders.

Desensitization to Violence:  We see a lot of violence on TV, in movies, and in the news these days. Because we're exposed to it so often, it's starting to feel "normal" to us. Sometimes, when real violent events happen, we aren't as shocked or upset because we're so used to seeing it in the media. This constant exposure can make us care less about others and might even lead some to act more aggressively. It's important for us to remember that real-life violence has serious consequences and isn't just a story.

Stress and Physical Health: Denial can lead to chronic stress as the body remains in a constant state of alertness. This not only affects mental health but can also lead to physical ailments like hypertension and heart disease.

Breaking Free from Denial

Recognizing and accepting our state of denial is the first step towards healing. Here are some ways to break free:

Self-awareness: Regular introspection can help us identify patterns of denial. Journaling or meditative practices can be beneficial in this regard.

Seek Professional Help: Therapists and counselors are trained to help individuals confront and deal with their denials. They provide a safe space to express and process suppressed emotions.

Open Communication: Talking to trusted friends or family members about our feelings can be therapeutic. They can offer a fresh perspective and help us face our realities.

Educate Yourself: Understanding the implications of denial on mental health can motivate us to address it. Reading articles, attending workshops, or joining support groups can be enlightening.

While denial might seem like a comforting ally in tough times, it's a wolf in sheep's clothing. By pretending everything is normal, we set ourselves up for a cascade of mental health issues. It's essential to recognize the signs, confront our denials, and seek help when needed. After all, true strength lies not in ignoring our vulnerabilities but in facing them head-on.


© Shamala Tan 2023

Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have regarding the work that I do via email [email protected]

Shamala Tan is an author, spiritual entrepreneur, and healer. She strives to transform the lives of others on spiritual, emotional, mental, and earthly levels. Shamala's clients include small business owners, holistic practitioners, and individuals seeking greater meaning and value in life. She offers personalized laser coaching to clients in both individual and group settings, both online and offline.


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