Some would say that denial is not just a river in Egypt; it is part of the addict and their addiction. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It is a common process or stage in change, loss and grieving. In the 5 Stages of Grief, written in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying,” Denial is the first stage. Then it is followed by anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. Since then, grief experts have added a sixth stage called transcendence. We can also see these stages in the 12 steps, a model of recovery for addicts. This entry will focus on Denial.
Merriam-Webster has defined denial as 1) a refusal to grant a request, 2) a refusal to admit the truth or reality, or 3) a refusal to accept or believe in something. Denial is both internal and external lies sex addicts use, and they will defend them until no end, despite how ridiculous and pitiful the lie is. Denial can take many shapes and forms. Here are just a few:
- Plain Denial: an absolute refusal to admit despite all evidence to the contrary. (“Wasn’t me”).
- Minimizations: Trying to make behavior or consequences seem smaller or less important than they are. (“it’s just porn; it’s not like I was with anyone.” Or “at least I am not like those guys”)
- Entitlement: See themselves as deserving or having a right to something. (“I work really hard, so sometimes I need just to blow off steam”)
- Martyrdom: See self as the victim to other people or fate. (“I have lived in a sexless marriage for years” or “my wife/husband and I are like roommates; I just stay for the kids, so…”)
- Justification/Rationalization: Using excuses to make the behavior ok. (“All men do it,” “I just have a really high sex drive,” or “as long as my wife/husband don’t know, it won’t hurt them”)
- Blame: You hold other people responsible for your behavior. “If you would do the things I want sexually or try to be sexy every once in a while, I wouldn’t have to go somewhere else.” “They came onto me; I couldn’t resist.”
Addicts believe their own lies when the denial escalates, making it even more challenging to see the connection between their sexually compulsive behaviors and the consequences. This makes them immune to the cries of concern and complaints of family and friends. It usually takes a significant event that shakes the addicts’ world that breaks through the denial. That big event is usually of their own doing or boundaries of society’s or loved ones.