December 1, 2020
On Denial: Internal, Relational, Social and Political Functions
Presenter: Nancy McWilliams PhD
Discussant: Kevin Kelly, M.D.
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.