“Denial” has traditionally been conceptualized as an ego defense mechanism. In other words, it’s been presumed that when a person denies the reality of a situation, they do so unconsciously because the reality is simply too painful to bear. But when disturbed characters engage in denial, they’re generally not in a state of psychological unawareness prompted by a deep inner pain about who they are or what they have been doing. Rather, disordered characters more frequently use denial (i.e., an unwillingness to admit their wrongdoing) as a tactic to feign innocence, and to manage the impression of others who might otherwise have their number. If the denial is strong enough, a good neurotic might be successfully manipulated into second-guessing himself. Disordered characters often won’t admit when they’ve done something wrong, and resist looking at any role their behavior patterns have played in creating problems in their lives. They lie to themselves and others about their malevolent acts and intentions as a tactic to get others off their back. If their denial is forceful and convincing enough, others will likely be successfully manipulated.
Denial is not only an effective manipulation tactic, but it’s also a sure sign someone is not about to change his or her way of behaving. A person who won’t acknowledge their wrongs in the first place isn’t likely to feel any inclination to correct them. Habitual denial is the way many disordered characters resist internalizing the values and standards of conduct that could make them more socially responsible.
I’ve posted before on what denial is and what it isn’t. I’ve made an effort to distinguish between a true defense mechanism and a tactic of manipulation and responsibility-avoidance.
I’ve been posting on another blog about the various characteristics of individuals with disturbed characters. A more in-depth exploration of manipulation tactics, why they work, and how to best respond to them so as not to be victimized can be found in my book In Sheep’s Clothing.
5 thoughts on “Denial – Manipulation Tactic 4”
Just repeating a VERY poignant fact you made, Dr. Simon! How SO VERY true this statement IS!
“A person who won’t acknowledge their wrongs in the first place isn’t likely to feel any inclination to correct them. Habitual denial is the way many disordered characters resist internalizing the values and standards of conduct that could make them more socially responsible.”
Good grief! My head is spinning with how many ways a CD can manipulate our thinking and it’s terrifying that so far EVERYTHING I have read so far describes by husband! I asked for him to move out so we could work out our problems individually as we haven’t made any headway in 16 years but now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t get away from him completely even though I don’t believe in divorce. What to do?
What to do? Get the you know what AWAY from that energy vampire. SIXTEEN YEARS is, well, sufficient time to give someone to show and maintain their investment in a mutually beneficial partnership.
My father is your husband. I’m a “hypocrite” as I have yet to dissociate, but of course that doesn’t in any way preclude or impair my ability to know what SHOULD be and also fuels my desparation to jostle rationality in others hoping that at least SOMEONE will behave rationally and move on.
First I am glad you found this site and encourage you to keep posting. The majority of us have dealt first hand with the (CD) charactered disordered. Myself, I have dealt with several of them and am forced by certain circumstances to continue to do so. I did divorce my X and like you I didn’t believe in divorce. In retrospect it was never an honest sincere marriage. Ultimately, what you decide to do has to be your decision based on what you will tolerate and ultimately what you want.
You may find you just realized the tip of the iceberg, the problem is you don’t have any way of telling how deep and involved his CD is. If you have identified him thus far my inclination is to tell you its going to get worse. From my experience I would advise you to prepare yourself for the worst. If you feel you can keep this information to yourself and not share it with him it would give you more time to think.
I understand how devastating it is to find out the truth. The truth will set you free, it can also buy you precious time to make level headed decisions. I am thinking you need time to digest all this, I know how shaken you must feel and the real possibility of your whole world falling apart. These are painful and very important decisions to make. I can say from personal experience from dealing with these individuals once you plot a coarse of action it is best to stick with it.
I encourage you to keep reading the blog and postings, I would also suggest whatever you do, do not to tell him what you have found out. At this point you are forewarned and forearmed. Take care of yourself and be kind to you. In time more answers will appear and for me prayer was my rock.
Take care and blessings
Thank you for posting this! I googled “denial as a tactic” to confirm what I’ve noticed more and more about denial. In some cases, denial is in an emotional/psychological coping mechanism. However, more and more I’m seeing denial used as a tactic/strategy to actively and consciously deny the truth. I’ve noticed this not only in individuals, but in entire groups, organizations, societies, and even countries. I think this form of active and conscious denial is used as a tactic to advance a hidden agenda and/ or a stated agenda that would be considered socially, politically, or economically unacceptable.