Anesthesia – Denial mechanism

What you do not know and do not feel, you cannot change. One would say that some things around us are so obvious, that it is impossible not to see them. Still, it is possible. Abusing of the denial mechanism allows this. I say „abuse“ because, as with other mechanisms, each sometimes comes in handy. When reality becomes painful, psychological anesthesia is there to save and help us. Not to see and/or feel. Just like the physicalanesthesia. It helps us endure the inevitable and prepare for what is to come.

However, if we allow ourselves to enter anesthesia at every sign of pain, we are no longer in the process of healing, but in the process of creating a new problem. Imagine going into anesthesia every time we have a headache or a toothache because it is „unbearable.“ We would become all time non-conscious beings. This is exactly what is happening.

Getting into your own game

Eventually, little by little, almost imperceptibly, like a true addict, a man becomes less aware of himself and the world around him. Anesthesia becomes a natural state, so much that reality becomes oblivion, without us even noticing.

Just like when you are put under anesthesia, you count slowly10, 9, 8… and with each number you are further away from yourself. And poof – it’s over, you don’t know or feel whatever is happening. Gone is the pain, gone is the responsibility, because someone else is deciding about your life, and gone is the freedom to interfere. This is great for the surgery, because we wouldn’t have much to contribute to the surgeon, but when it comes to your life, meaning, decisions, relationships – would you really leave it to someone else, no matter how painful – to live for you?

Even if that was your therapist.

So, I took a small digression. As we can see once again, the therapists are not there to „perform“ your surgical work, but to transfer the „craft“ to you, so that you can do it yourself later, whenever there is another pain.

But let’s go back, the patient is under anesthesia, but this psychological one is not so obvious. We can see very little pain and there are hardly any conscious beings. What a way to live.

Fog all around us „Magla svuda oko nas“

The question is what that inner world of denial might look like. – Foggy, empty, full of vague feelings and relationships, elusive and undefined fears.

The gap is getting deeper „Sve je dublji jaz“

We are more distant from ourselves, the world, and it is lessclear why this is so. When we do not know something or we are not aware, we cannot influence it. We don’t know what it is, or whose „fault“ it is, not even what to do with „that something“.

The non-awareness of the causal connections and the feeling of not not having control over oneself becomes greater, the more intense the feeling. Ignorance frees from responsibility, but italso puts life in prison.

Once you start, you’ll just ask for more

Between admitting that he consciously cripples his life and the pain due to that fact, the man chooses to deny, which clearly requires more anesthesia.

Even then, there remains the one that did not allow itself to pass out, to be deceived – that is life. Even when we deny, (as we say in the OLI method: „we lie to ourselves“), we cannot do it in front of life. Anesthetics can’t do anything to it. Life does not acknowledge that we told ourselves it was not up to us, so it does not give us what it gives to others who consciously take responsibility. Life does not recognize excuses, but deeds.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

When we abuse what is there to help us, we create even more of the very pain that led us to this particular thing. What a vicious circle.

It is natural to strive for pleasure, but if denying any inconvenience becomes common, we are further and further away from it.

Just because we want something not to be true doesn’t mean it will. Our desire does not have that kind of power.

The part we anesthetize is usually the most important thing to see. As we reject this, the consequences are greater.

It is difficult to see that some goal is slipping out of your hands, to feel some physical symptoms that should be checked, that your child is behaving differently, that someone you love is lying to you, that problems are accumulating…

But the caution signs are there and the longer you ignore them,the bigger the problem will become. It is equally proportional. The math is clear. Do not enter additional variables and formulas. Not for panic, nor for disregard.

„What I don’t see doesn’t exist“ and the „Maybe after all“method

All these truths are here somewhere, we choose not to notice them because it suits us better (or at least that’s what we think). Did that ever work? Has life ever said:

„Okay, since you don’t really want this, let’s delete it.“ It has not. Nor it will. Life is a different authority than the ones we may have had or we think we wish we had. The reality of life will sting you (with symptoms) no matter how much you run away from it or fight. You can pretend that what you see is not there or acknowledge but soften it. Life certainly says: „What you don’t admit, only gets worse.“ I believe you know this, thanks to some example of yours, so it is good not to deny it (unless it isurgent).

Anesthesia leading to the death of authenticity

I would add to this personification with life, that denial leadingto increasing pain is not the only problem, you may somehow endure it until the new circle, but there are also authentic needsin question. While you are distracted by these mechanisms, your authentic goals are waiting for you to complete these manipulative games with yourself and others. They are sitting in a corner, for who knows how long, hoping that chances for what really is important to you won’t come to pass. For life, peace, love, reciprocity, self-esteem, work, creativity… You keep the best players in a basement. Don’t let them stay there. Because the meaning worth living is the one in which they are on the field.

Give authentic goals a chance to live. If nothing else, it is a shame not to.

Ivana Paunovic


Integrative psychodynamic psychological counselor,

psychotherapist and educator- OLI Center