Denial (also called abnegation) is a defence mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence. The subject may use:

1. Simple denial: deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether.
2. Minimisation: admit the fact but deny its seriousness (a combination of denial and rationalisation).
3. Projection: admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility.

Unlike some other defence mechanisms postulated by psychoanalytic theory (for instance, repression), the general existence of denial is fairly easy to verify, even for non-specialists. On the other hand, denial is one of the most controversial defence mechanisms, since it can be easily used to create unfalsifiable theories: anything the subject says or does that appears to disprove the interpreter's theory is explained, not as evidence that the interpreter's theory is wrong, but as the subject's being "in denial".

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