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14 Types of Denial in Addiction – part 1

April 20, 2010

Today’s blog and tomorrow’s  come from a fellow blogger and friend at Purifying Grace.

If you are into your recovery process, you feel like you’ve done step #1 of the 12-steps

 “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

We think we’ve got that covered and we never need to revisit it.   

When I first entered recovery, my sponsor would constantly tell me I was still in denial, and like any good addict, I denied it!  He couldn’t articulate why he thought I was in denial. He would simply say, “It just sounds like you are still in denial.”

 So I brushed it off.

When I began therapy, my counselor walked me through Patrick Carnes’s 14 Types of Denial.  I started to realize that there were many areas where I was in denial

So I wanted to share these 14 with you guys. While some of these may overlap with one another, it helps to have these 14 categories to really know what denial really is.

  1. Global Thinking: This is attempting to justify something with absolute terms like “always” or “never” or “whatsoever.” It also can be something along the lines of “every guy does this.”
  2. Rationalization: This is justifying unacceptable behavior saying things like “I don’t have a problem, I’m just sexually liberated,” or “You’re crazy,” or “I can go months without this, so I don’t have a problem.” As Rick Warren states, “Rationalize is telling yourself Rational Lies” (Twitter).
  3. Minimizing: This is trying to make behavior or consequences seem smaller or less important than they are saying things like “only a little,” or “only once in a while,” or “it’s no big deal,” or simply telling the story in a better light than it really should be.
  4. Comparison: This is shifting focus to someone else to justify behaviors such as “I’m not as bad as…”
  5. Uniqueness: This is thinking you are different or special saying things like “My situation is different,” or “I was hurt more,” or “That’s fine for you, but I’m too busy.” This one can also be considered Entitlement.
  6. Distraction (Carnes, Avoiding by creating an uproar or distraction): This is being a clown and getting everyone laughing, having angry outbursts meant to frighten or intimidate others, threats and posturing, and doing shocking behavior that may even be sexual. This can be when we simply blow up upon being confronted hoping that our explosion will draw attention rather than the actual issue.
  7. Avoiding by Omission: This is trying to change the subject, ignore the subject, or manipulate the conversation to avoid talking about something. It is also leaving out important bits of information like the fact that the lover is underage, or the person is a close friend of your spouse, or revealing enough information while keeping back the most “dangerous” information that will get you in more trouble.

On tomorrow’s blog, @purifyinggrace will share the rest of the list of ways we are in denial. 

14 Types of Denial in Addiction – Part 1
14 Types of Denial in Addiction – Part 2


@purifyinggrace is a fellow Christian blogger who is still in the recovery process.  He blogs at and his wife (@unfoldinggrace) writes at as they both talk openly and honestly about their struggles through @purifyinggrace‘s porn addiction.




One Comment
  1. April 20, 2010 12:14 pm

    Great post.

    You (or the originator rather) identify some of the sneaky ways our self-deception lodges its way in our thinking processes.

    No wonder recovery is such a long process. We can only identify and work on so many things at once.

    The thrilling part becomes when a light comes on for a particular habitual pattern of thought that deceives us that is so familiar, we barely know we are doing it. It takes a maturing person to be able to face these revelations and address them, rather than recoil from the pain of the realization thus hiding in denial yet again.

    No wonder Jeremiah 17:9 tell us that the heart is wickedly deceitful and that no man can know his own heart on his own. We simply cannot spot self-deception on our own.



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