Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Denial (Defense Mechanism)

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1373-1


By denial individuals cope with stressors by not acknowledging their reality and/or their consequences. This can range from common resistance to accept consequences of certain events to psychotic denial, in which even denial of physical aspects of immediate surroundings can happen. In a broader sense, denial may include negation, constructing fantasies to replace the stressor, minimizing the stressor, and maximizing what could make one dismiss the stressor; this led some to propose that denial may be more a class of defenses than a single defense mechanism (Baumeister et al. 1998).


Denial as a defense mechanism was originally conceptualized by Freud as the refusal to acknowledge disturbing aspects of external reality, as well as the existence of disturbing psychological (internal) events, such as thoughts, memories, or feelings (Freud 1924/1961, 1925/1961). In fact, it has been argued that denial and repression are sometimes difficult to distinguish, especially...


Prefrontal Cortex Defense Mechanism Personality Disorder External Reality Nonclinical Sample 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WJCR – William James Center for ResearchISPA – Instituto UniversitárioLisbonPortugal

Section editors and affiliations

  • Simon Boag
    • 1
  1. 1.Macquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia