Denial is one of the defense mechanisms originally discovered by Freud, the founders of psychology. During child development, denial is one of the first defenses learned. It is a way people cope with internal and external problems that are overly traumatic for the individual’s cognition to deal with. Without the ability to repress certain realities, people would not be able to function in life without having a mental breakdown. Too much denial becomes detrimental causing people to overlook the perils of various situations and behaviors that become harmful to those living in denial.
It takes many forms and levels around accepting that one has diabetes. For some, it is a matter of just not accepting that lifestyle changes need to occur. At extreme levels of denial, the person believes that the doctors are lying and cannot see the symptoms that uncontrolled diabetes is causing. In diabetes management, many tasks need to be performed to keep blood sugars in control. Some less extreme examples of denial might include not counting carbs, checking one’s blood sugars or putting off giving insulin before eating. Most all people live in some state of denial with or without diabetes.
Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.