Living in denial

Whilst playing some online scrabble the other day, I was quite proud of a word using 5 letters and scoring me 24 points. Until some smarty pants came up with this word ‘Abnegation’ and that’s when I simply closed down the application. Which of course is the online equivalent of tipping over the board, stomping your feet and slamming the door shut.

Anyway, once I’d calmed myself down, I thought to see what this word actually meant. Surely such a word couldn’t exist. Unfortunately for me it does. It means Denial, and wikipedia gives the following definition:

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.
Which got me thinking whether or not sane, educated and intellectual people in this day and age really abnegate. I mean, its OK to think of some rednecks living in the deep South to believe in cults and that aliens will come down and save them if they commit mass-suicide. But us normal people? Never…

Well maybe not so.

Having thought on the topic, I came to a startling conclusion. Nearly every manager I’ve ever worked for abnegates. You try telling them that there’s a major risk of something going wrong and they’ll plain and simple deny that it’s a possibility (denial of fact). Until something goes wrong of course. At which point they try to shift the blame (denial of responsibility), or ignore all the warning signs that had led up to the point and claim it was an unforeseen and isolated incident (denial of cycle).


Well at least next time I go to a job interview, and the recruiting manager asks what additional skills I bring to the job, I’ll simply state that I have a masters in Abnegation. Chances are they won’t know what it means until its too late.

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