On Denial: Internal, Relational, Social and Political Functions

December 1, 2020

On Denial: Internal, Relational, Social and Political Functions

Presenter: Nancy McWilliams PhD

Discussant: TBD

Denial will be conceptualized as a dissociative phenomenon whose evolutionarily adaptive
functions include initiating and facilitating the human capacity for mourning. After a short overview
of the psychoanalytic concept of denial, from Freud’s thinking through contemporary contributions
of attachment research and neuroscience, Dr. McWilliams will speculate on the relationship of
denial to mourning on both individual and societal levels. Some clinical, social, and political
manifestations of denial will be noted, along with some possible ways of addressing this primitive
but ubiquitous defense.