When Reality Bites: How Denial Helps and What to Do When It Hurts

When Reality Bites: How Denial Helps and What to Do When It Hurts

by Holly Parker Ph.D.


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Learn how to use denial to help you when you are facing tragedy and how to recognize and move past denial when it becomes counterproductive.

Denial is often seen as an inability or unwillingness to face unpleasant or difficult realities—from financial losses, to illnesses like alcoholism, to larger social issues like climate change. In some instances, denial can be detrimental because it can keep you stuck in a cycle of destructive behaviors. However, denial can also be very useful for helping you get through hard times, allowing you to tap into your resiliency for emotional survival.

With great insight and originality, author Holly Parker shows you how to use denial as a buffer in the face of tragedy and how to know when your use of denial has become counterproductive or detrimental. Through a fresh, comforting, and clinically-based perspective, Parker takes the shame out of denial with practical and relatable solutions to uncovering, reframing, and harnessing this very normal coping technique. Hands-on exercises and compelling personal stories help you apply this information to your situation and come to accept your need for denial when it helps, and break through it to face life’s challenges with courage when it hurts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616496654
Publisher: Hazelden Publishing
Publication date: 08/30/2016
Pages: 220
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Holly Parker, PhD, is a lecturer in the department of psychology at Harvard University, and a clinical psychologist and an associate director of training at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, MA. She has won multiple awards for her teaching excellence. Find her online at www.drhollyparker.com.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 If Denial Ain't Just a River, Then What Is It? 5

2 Denial within Us 27

3 Denial at the Level of Ourselves 51

4 Denial at the Level of Our Relationships 73

5 Denial at the Level of Our Situation 95

6 Denial at the Level of Society 117

7 Denial at the Level of Life and Death 141

Epilogue 161

Resources 165

Notes 173

About the Author 201

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When Reality Bites: How Denial Helps and What to Do When It Hurts 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
GemmaDavison More than 1 year ago
As some with a long history of mental illness, I am no stranger to denial. For a long time, I denied to myself (and others) that there was a problem, denied that I was unhappy, and denied that the way I was feeling was (for a lack of a better word) normal. It seems to me that the denial was almost as destructive as the anxiety and depression itself, as it prevented me from getting the help I needed. Thanks to Dr Holly Parker's book 'When Reality Bites', I have learned when my own denial is becoming counter-productive to my recovery. There is nothing good that can come from pretending that Im okay. Dr Parker has actuall helped me to open up about my feelings, such is her comforting style of writing, and her totally logical and professional arguments. It was like cognitive therapy for denial and how to stop it destructive force, and even use it to my own advantage. I can't recommend this book high enough to anyone who suffers inside, but denies it to the outside world. It could make a really positive impact on your life.
Jay_t_Munson More than 1 year ago
Denial is often found in the face of hardened times for many people, be it from a lost love, financial problems, to even deaths in the family. The list can be continued yet, denying oneself the realization of the situation, is again denial itself. Holly Parker, Ph.D. takes the notion of denial and offers up a genuinely inventive method to deal with denial. With hands-on practices and a truly therapeutic approach to her alternative techniques to dealing with denial, your situation with denial will forever be changed on how you deal with cases. A truly remarkable book and one worth reading.
ValeryElias16 More than 1 year ago
When Reality Bites: How Denial Helps and What to do When it Hurts by Holly Parker is a comprehensive look at all aspects of denial. One night, Parker was having dinner with her husband in an elegant restaurant and didn't feel well, denied feeling unwell to herself, yet moments later fainted. This is a simple example of what most people do every day, deny reality, deny what is actually happening. Parker clearly and succinctly explains how to recognize denial, accept it, and even use it to your advantage. Written in a light and easy tone, Parker is never condescending, but rather encouraging to the reader. While denial in and of itself can lead to damaging behaviors and outcomes, the right balance of denial and acceptance, according to Parker, can lead to a better life all around. With plenty of exercises and questions for the reader to answer throughout the book, Parker has offered the reader practical solutions to manage difficult and challenging times.
Fiction__Fanatic More than 1 year ago
I found Dr. Holly Parker's book about denial absolutely fascinating. Denial is a word that often does not really have many positive associations. When I think of denial, I always think of the saying/; 'Burying your head in the sand'. But Parker's 'When Reality Bites made me realize that is such an over-simplification. Denial can lead to a cycle of destruction – like someone constantly increasing an overdraft as they don't have to pay it back. In that case, the perfectly normal coping technique has prevented proper assessment of a problem. The personal stories were such a great idea, as they really help to see how denial can be overcome, and how it can be harnessed to help with healing. Such an intelligent and compelling book, with practical solutions that anyone could implement in their lives to make a positive change.
Bookie__Wookie More than 1 year ago
When Reality Bites by Holly Parker is a self help book with a difference. Instead of telling the reader what to do, with sweeping generalisations, it investigates why you behave the way you do , and what you can do to change it. Thanks to Holly Parker, you will learn to recognise when denial is having a negative effect, and how to then stop it in its tracks. Real life case studies makes the advice relatable, seeing how it will work in practice. Additionally, you will see how you can use denial as a positive force in your life. You don't have to fear it, you can turn that negative into a positive. It's great advice delivered in a frank, but non condescending way. I highly recommend.
BiblioLove More than 1 year ago
When reading Dr. Holly Parker's book, I came to the conclusion very quickly, that denial is far more than just one of the five stages of grief. It can come into play over a huge range of issues, such as denying a loss of an opportunity, an illness, the threat of war, and true feelings towards someone. When I really thought about it, denial takes a really central part in our lives. But is this a good or bad thing? Well according to a very persuasive Dr. Parker, it is both. An individual simple needs to realize whether or not they are using denial as a reason to continue in armful behaviors, or if they are using denial to give them to time needed to build strength to get through something difficult. I found the two opposing effects of denial so interesting, and the insights in this book were so unique, I actually read much of this book a few times over. And I think I will go back to it once again if I ever find myself in a tough situation and need some comfort and advice.
MichelleG More than 1 year ago
More than a self help book. I'm not usually a reader of self help books, as many of them don't seem to have a meaningful 'lesson', sometimes coming across as a little shallow. But, an interest in human psychology drew me to Dr. Holly Parker's book 'When Reality Bites'. In it, she takes on the complex process of denial. It is a coping mechanism all of us turn to at some point in our lives, be it be it because of financial stress, relationship struggles, or loss. Dr. Parker isn't discouraging us from using denial, but helps the reader to see that sometimes it can work in your best interest. It is something that you will eventually have to work through, her techniques will help you to get to the other side. This great book gives practical strategies and actions to deal with denial, so you wont always automatically avoid difficult situations or emotions.
lynne1946 More than 1 year ago
Holly Parker, PhD, has taken a subject that many think of as psycho-babble, approachable only in the inner sanctum of the psychiatrist's office, and has taken it into the clear light of everyday conversation. The accusation "you're in denial" has been shown to describe not only a negative reaction, but just possibly a way to manage the hard times in life with a little kindness directed toward oneself. By removing ourselves from the thick of things, we can look at the situation more clearly and then decide if it's something to consider a major life trauma that must be dealt with immediately, or perhaps something we can remove ourselves from for a while, in order to take a deep breath and try to prepare for less trauma than jumping right in would have caused. She has a casual, relaxed approach in her writing, which helps the reader let go of the idea that we must fight all our battles full tilt, as they present themselves, and allow ourselves some kindness before the fray. A good book for those in relationship struggles, or even just struggles with all the problems in life that require a deep breath before approaching.
George_Elliott More than 1 year ago
Sometimes it is hard to face up to difficult situations in life, but what effect can this denial have on your life. Dr Holly Parker addresses why we go to denial in difficult times, and how harmful this denial can be if it realisation of the denial doesn't set in. 'When Reality Bites' will help anyone learn to cope with denial, and to turn it to their favour. Personal stories provide plenty of inspiration and innovative techniques from Holly Parker will give anyone the tools they need to stop being stuck in a cycle of denial. Instead you can move on to acceptance and find the courage to take the situation as it is, and resolve it.
Mells-Writing More than 1 year ago
Fiction is not the only thing that I ever read, in fact I read quite a great deal of non-fiction. I enjoy books that give help and guidance. Now, that being said I might not be the best person to review this book, because at this moment in time I am dealing with a number of things after starting my life over after 21 years of marriage, but then again that might also just make me the best person to review this book. Denial. Normally when you say the word denial, we think of the bad ways in which we use denial. The alcoholic who refuses or cant see that they are damaging themselves and/or those around them. The person who refuses to take ownership of their actions, and on and on. The thing is, denial is not always a bad thing, it just takes knowing when and how to use denial to your advantage. Author Holly Parker has a very easy, conversational tone in this book, and it reads more like she is a friend talking to you over dinner, giving you the information from her vast knowledge to help you through things you are dealing with. She doesn't overwhelm you with her knowledge and training, or make you feel that you can't understand what she is saying. She keeps it in a light and easy manner that allows everyone, no matter your educational background, to be able to understand what she is saying and feel comfortable with it. That is probably one of my favorite things, she doesn't talk over your head, or dumb it down too much that you feel like she is making fun of you. There are a number of exercises and questions that you can work through in this book to help you understand denial, when it is bad, when it is good, how to use it and how to avoid it. Because of all these exercises, this is a book that you can refer to over and over, when different things come up in your life. Of course, for me, it meant that it took me a lot longer than usual to read this book because I couldn't just skip them, I had to do the exercises and answer the questions. Of course, I still have pages marked in my book to work on again later, to go back and redo and to finish. This is definitely a great book, and I am extremely pleased that I ran across it at this point in my life, because in reality, there are a number of things going on when you begin life over, being a single parent, and responsible for everything yourself that this book will help me address. I do see myself using this book now, and again later in time.