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About this book
We do not think about everything at once all the time. Various mecha nisms allow us to choose from among the themes, issues, topics, feelings, ideas, and memories that might occupy consciousness. One can focus selectively on anything deemed important; yet the methods by which this is accomplished vary greatly. We clinicians assign to these various mech anisms names that fit whatever theoretical system is central to our work-the healthy suppression of "background noise" allows us to pay attention to certain matters; the repression of unconscious conflict may assist our functioning in one moment despite its later cost; whereas denial and disavowal are used as general and fairly nonspecific terms for matters that are left out of awareness in order to avoid the noxious emotions specific to the personal significance of such awareness. Despite the attitude of scientific objectivity characterizing Freud's introduction of psychoanalysis, an aura of morality clings to certain of these mecha nisms, for we tend to judge people by their use of them. We are a society of doers, people of action and accomplishment who look with disrespect at the avoidance of any responsibility or task. Thus denial has taken on a negative connotation, and those who use this avoidance system are seen as the lesser among us.
attention coping emotion feeling identity psychoanalysis