Denial, Negation, and the Forces of the Negative

Freud, Hegel, Lacan, Spitz, and Sophocles

By Wilfried Ver Eecke

Subjects: Psychoanalysis
Series: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies
Paperback : 9780791466001, 200 pages, June 2006
Hardcover : 9780791465998, 200 pages, December 2005

Table of contents


1. The Complex Phenomenon of Denial
2. The Epistemological Problem of Self-description in Freudian Psychoanalysis
3. Denial and Hegel’s Philosophical Anthropology
4. Denial and Hegel’s Theory of the Will
5. A Child’s No-Saying: A Step towards Independence
6. Oedipus, the King: How and How not to Undo a Denial
7. Denial, Metaphor, the Symbolic, and Freedom: The Ontological Dimensions of Denial


A comprehensive account of denial viewed not only psychoanalytically but also philosophically.


Finalist for the 2006 Goethe Award for Psychoanalytic Scholarship presented by the Section on Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Psychology of the Canadian Psychological Association

It is often the case that painful truths emerge first in the form of denial; one needs to create distance from what is painful. In Denial, Negation, and the Forces of the Negative Wilfried Ver Eecke constructs a comprehensive, lucid account of denial's psychological and philosophical dimensions while using Freud, Hegel, Lacan, Spitz, and Sophocles to help us understand this unavoidable aspect of human existence.

Ver Eecke acknowledges Hegel's claim that the road to truth is not a path of doubt, but a highway of despair, and argues, via Hegel's ontology of the person, that denial can be understood as a desiring being's defense against despair. By examining the role of no-saying in children, Freud's claims about freedom of the will and its necessary prerequisites, and Sophocles' Oedipus, Ver Eecke demonstrates the idea that denial is connected with situations in which the self-image of a person is threatened. He concludes with a colleague's autobiography to highlight the deep, tragic experiences that denial covers, and the enormous psychic work required to overcome profound denial, with the ultimate reward of experiencing oneself as the fulfillment of the promise of life.

At Georgetown University, Wilfried Ver Eecke is Professor of Philosophy and also teaches courses in psychology and psychoanalysis. He is the coauthor (with Alphonse De Waelhens) of Phenomenology and Lacan on Schizophrenia, after the Decade of the Brain and Saying "No":Its Meaning in Child Development, Psychoanalysis, Linguistics, and Hegel.