So you don’t think that you are an alcoholic. Chances are that you are not, but this is the thought that many who are unknowingly addicted to alcohol or other mind-altering agents. This denial barrier is the first of many hurdles to overcome when they are identified as having an addiction disorder. Although all denial isn’t bad most of the time, addicts are often the last to recognize their disease, pursuing their addictions into mental illness, the degeneration of health, and ultimately death. This paper will explain the concept of denial, its consequences, and the implications it has for nursing care.
Review of Literature and Knowledge Base
What is denial? Dr. Hilary Knatz, the author of Getting On, states that “Denial, is a way of coping with unpleasant realities” (Knatz, 1999). She then goes on to explain that:
Denial, in the psychological/psychiatric vernacular, is a defensive strategy to minimize anxiety. It is defined and conceptualized in a number of ways, which differ according to theory. In classical Freudian terms, denial is a defense mechanism invoked by a person when there is a danger that he or she will become aware of or act on unconscious primitive impulses that are unacceptable. We defend against such impulses, it is said, by unconsciously limiting our awareness of them, or perhaps attributing them to others. A murderous rage, for example, may be repressed or obscured from our awareness, or it may be attributed to others (p. 2).
The Oxford English Dictionary defines denial to be “the asserting (of anything) to be untrue or invalid; also, the denying of the existence or reality of a thing” (Simpson & Weiner, 1989).
Sometimes denial can be constructive and adaptive, according to R. Davidhizar, V...
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... Individual and political dysfunction in the Thomas-Hill hearings. Journal of Psychohistory, 19, 269-279.
Davidhizar, R., Poole, V., Giger, J. N., & Henderson, M. (1998). When your patient uses denial. Journal of Practical Nursing, 48, 10-14.
McCracken, A. L. (1998). Healthy People 2000: Aging and alcohol. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 24, 37-43.
Simpson, J. A. & Weiner, E. S. C. (1989). Denial. In The Oxford English Dictionary (Vol. 4, p. 456). Taunton, MS: Clarendon Press.
Knatz, H. (1999). Getting On. [On-line]. Available: http://www.awa.com/w2/getting_on/go-3.9.html.
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1994). Signs of effectiveness 2: Preventing alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use: A risk factor / resiliency-based approach (DHHS Publication No. 94-2098, p 93-94). Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Publications.
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