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December 1958

Mechanism of Denial in Physical Disabilities

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;80(6):782-784. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340120118018

Since the first description of denial of blindness by von Monakow, in 1885, and the introduction of the term anosognosia by Babinski, in 1914, to denote denial of left hemiplegia, this phenomenon has attracted the attention of many authors. The vast majority of the reports have been concerned with brain-damaged patients; and, although there have been instances of denial of physical disability without brain damage, such as paraplegia and amputation, most authors have been concerned with the former.

Because of the emphasis on brain damage, a number of theories have arisen to localize the kind of damage which predisposes to denial of illness. The recent monograph of Weinstein and Kahn1 has questioned this approach and has pointed out that, given something to be denied, not only disordered brain function but the milieu, time, and premorbid personality are also determining factors. While Weinstein and Kahn based their studies entirely on