If you don’t know whether or not you have a problem, it can be extremely difficult to find a solution. Have you ever had a situation where you were very enthusiastic and excited about achieving a desirable goal and then got in your own way? I know I have.
There are many different ways of talking about that part of ourselves that both protect us and sabotages us—sometimes at the same time. Some people call this our psychological defense system. Others call it denial, while still others call it the inner saboteur. Have you ever heard the expression “the committee in your head?” For others it’s the angle or devil on your shoulder and for still others it’s called the “monkey mind.”
The way you also can think about this protective dynamic is that it’s the combination of our thoughts, opinions, beliefs and conclusions that we have developed over our lifetime to either protect us our get our needs met. At times it has a very high positive payoff and we do obtain protection and get our needs met. Unfortunately, at other times it can become a blind spot that is actually hurting us more than helping us.
I’ve seen many people who were living with chronic pain who developed coexisting disorders but they were unaware of this happening. Some of them developed depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders that they didn’t manage very well and experienced life damaging consequences. Others also started have problems with their pain medication management and developed a substance use disorder—prescription drug abuse or even addiction—and didn’t see it.
Just as the human body has an immune system to protect it from dangerous physical organisms, the human mind has a mental immune system to protect it from overwhelming pain and problems—painful reality. That mental immune system is called a psychological defense. The purpose of this psychological defense is to protect our mind and personality.
Denial is one part of this defensive system. It is activated whenever we are asked to think or talk about a painful or overwhelming problem. There is nothing sick, pathological, or wrong about this. Denial is a normal and natural human response to severe pain and problems. Unfortunatel, there is also a down side to denial and it can and does often sabotage chronic pain management.
To learn more about denial management for better chronic pain management outcomes check out my article From Denial to Effective Chronic Pain Management that you can download for free on our Article page.
If you’d like to receive training for helping people with chronic pain and coexisting disorders, including addiction, I’m very excited to announce we are presenting my Addiction-Free Pain Management® Certification Training in Sacramento on August 5-7, 2010. To learn more about this and my other upcoming trainings you can check out our Calendar page.
You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you are working with people in chronic pain or are undergoing chronic pain management and have any resistance or denial and want to learn how to develop a plan for helping to identify and manage denial please go to our Publications page and check out my book the Denial Management Counseling for Effective Pain Management Workbook. To purchase this book please Click Here.
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