Unsolved:Mental illness denial

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Short description: Mental illness denialism

Mental illness denial or mental disorder denial is a form of denialism in which a person denies the existence of mental disorders.[1] Both serious analysts[2][3] and pseudoscientific movements[1] question the existence of certain disorders.

In psychiatry, insight is the ability of an individual to understand their mental health condition,[4] and anosognosia is the lack of awareness of a mental health condition.[5] Certain psychological analysts argue this denialism is a coping mechanism usually fueled by narcissistic injury.[6]

A minority of professional researchers see disorders such as depression from a sociocultural perspective and argue that the solution to it is fixing a dysfunction in the society, not in the person's brain.[3]


In psychiatry, insight is the ability of an individual to understand their mental health,[4] and anosognosia is the lack of awareness of a mental health condition.[5]

According to Elyn Saks, probing patient's denial may lead to better ways to help them overcome their denial and provide insight into other issues.[6] Major reasons for denial are narcissistic injury and denialism.[6] In denialism, a person tries to deny psychologically uncomfortable truth and tries to rationalize it.[6] This urge for denialism is fueled further by narcissistic injury.[6] Narcissism gets injured when a person feels vulnerable (or weak or overwhelmed) for some reason like mental illness.[6]

Scholarly criticism of psychiatric diagnosis

Scholars have criticized mental health diagnoses as arbitrary.[7] According to Thomas Szasz, mental illness is a social construct. He views psychiatry as a social control and mechanism for political oppression.[8] Szasz wrote a book on the subject in 1961, The Myth of Mental Illness.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Novella, Steven (24 January 2018). "Mental Illness Denial". https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/mental-illness-denial/. 
  2. "'Depression' Is a Symptom, Not a Disorder" (in en). https://opmed.doximity.com/articles/depression-is-a-symptom-not-a-disorder. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Escalante, Alison. "Researchers Doubt That Certain Mental Disorders Are Disorders At All" (in en). https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisonescalante/2020/08/11/researchers-doubt-that-certain-mental-disorders-are-disorders-at-all/. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Marková, Ivana (2005). Insight in psychiatry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-511-14045-2. OCLC 63814379. https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/63814379. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Moro, Valentina; Pernigo, Simone; Zapparoli, Paola; Cordioli, Zeno; Aglioti, Salvatore M. (2011). "Phenomenology and neural correlates of implicit and emergent motor awareness in patients with anosognosia for hemiplegia" (in en). Behavioural Brain Research 225 (1): 259–269. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2011.07.010. PMID 21777624. https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0166432811005250. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Saks, Elyn R. "Some thoughts on denial of mental illness." American Journal of Psychiatry 166.9 (2009): 972-973. Web. 11 Dec. 2021
  7. Paris, Joel (2020). Overdiagnosis in psychiatry how modern psychiatry lost its way while creating a diagnosis for almost all of life's misfortunes (Second ed.). New York, NY. ISBN 978-0-19-750430-7. OCLC 1147940363. https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1147940363. 
  8. Benning, Tony (2016). "No such thing as mental illness? Critical reflections on the major ideas and legacy of Thomas Szasz". BJPsych Bulletin 40 (6): 292–295. doi:10.1192/pb.bp.115.053249. PMID 28377805. 
  9. Carey, Benedict (11 September 2012). "Dr. Thomas Szasz, Psychiatrist Who Led Movement Against His Field, Dies at 92". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/12/health/dr-thomas-szasz-psychiatrist-who-led-movement-against-his-field-dies-at-92.html.