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

By Dr. Holly Parker

Personal growth, Psychology & philosophy, Education & teaching | Paperback, eBook, Audiobook


One of the most fundamental aspects of human nature is that we seek to maximize comfort and minimize pain. Just as we wear mitts to guard against a scorching pan or don a jacket to protect from ice-cold weather, we shield ourselves against the psychological hot pots and blizzards of life. Although denial holds us back at times when we ditch the discomfort required to live a full and gratifying existence, denial is also beneficial in its own right, helping us to navigate life’s glorious yet craggy terrain. The key is how we wield it. When Reality Bites infuses science and a clinical perspective as it counters the popular notion that it’s innately unhealthy to be “in denial.” The book illuminates the dual-sided nature of denial, making the case that despite denial’s unhealthy side, it’s adaptive and serves a crucial purpose — to bolster our capacity to function, cope, and thrive.


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One of the most fundamental aspects of human nature is that we seek to maximize comfort and minimize pain. Just as we wear mitts to guard against a scorching pan or don a jacket to protect from ice-cold weather, we shield ourselves against the psychological hot pots and blizzards of life. Although denial holds us back at times when we ditch the discomfort required to live a full and gratifying existence, denial is also beneficial in its own right, helping us to navigate life’s glorious yet craggy terrain. The key is how we wield it. When Reality Bites infuses science and a clinical perspective as it counters the popular notion that it’s innately unhealthy to be “in denial.” The book illuminates the dual-sided nature of denial, making the case that despite denial’s unhealthy side, it’s adap...


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HOLLY PARKER, PH.D., is a psychology lecturer at Harvard University and an associate director of training at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital. She received her doctorate in Experimental Psychopathology from Harvard University, where she engaged in research on coping and resilience after traumatic loss, among other topics. She then respecialized in Clinical Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A recipient of several teaching awards, Holly has a reputation as a masterful and engaging teacher. She has also been quoted in articles for SELF, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, BBC, Prevention, MarketWatch, Medical Daily, the Chicago Tribune, and many other publications.


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HOLLY PARKER, PH.D., is a psychology lecturer at Harvard University and an associate director of training at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital. She received her doctorate in Experimental Psychopathology from Harvard University, where she engaged in research on coping and resilience after traumatic loss, among other topics. She then respecialized in Clinical Psychology at the Unive...


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