Denial is a psychological defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it. Denial, in ordinary English usage, is asserting that a statement or allegation is not true. It is used as a psychological defense when a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence. Denial also could mean denying the happening of an event or the reliability of information, which can lead to a feeling of aloofness and to the ignoring of possibly beneficial information.
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- Man ... wants to be great, and he sees himself small. He wants to be happy, and he sees himself miserable. He wants to be perfect, and he sees himself full of imperfections. He wants to be the object of love and esteem among men, and he sees that his faults merit only their hatred and contempt. This embarrassment in which he finds himself produces in him the most unrighteous and criminal passion that can be imagined; for he conceives a mortal enmity against that truth which reproves him and which convinces him of his faults. He would annihilate it, but, unable to destroy it in its essence, he destroys it as far as possible in his own knowledge and in that of others; that is to say, he devotes all his attention to hiding his faults both from others and from himself, and he cannot endure either that others should point them out to him, or that they should see them.
- Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #100, W. F. Trotter, trans. (New York: 1958)
- If insistence on them tends to unsettle established systems, … self-evident truths are by most people silently passed over; or else there is a tacit refusal to draw from them the most obvious inferences.
- Herbert Spencer, Ethics (New York:1915), § 68, p. 187