Need-Denying Pattern


Defends against feeling or showing needs or degree of need, even though the person is interested in being close to others and getting needs met

Sometimes acts needy but denies it

May also defend against showing pain or vulnerability 



1. Feels that needs or pain are bad, wrong, excessive, infantile, repulsive, weak

2. Denies need as a way of avoiding feeling the pain of the underlying need.

3. Could be opposite reaction to needy parent


Core Issues/Origins

Punishment for need, especially shame, or any negative consequence for showing needs

Deprivation, abandonment



I don’t need much.

I can take care of myself.


Underlying Thought

My needs (pain, vulnerability) are bad



Self: Not having many needs

Other: Judgmental towards people who have needs


Sees Others As

Judgmental towards neediness


Healthy Capacities Blocked

Need, vulnerability



Men and women tend to use this defense equally


Activating Conditions

Any conditions that may bring up needs (see needy pattern)

Also being in relationship with someone who isn’t receptive to needs or pain



The isolated pattern also defends against need but the real motivation of the isolated person is to avoid closeness. The isolated person fears being harmed if he is intimate. The need-denying person fears being shamed if his needs show.




Combinations of Need-Denying Pattern with Other Patterns

Prideful: Pretends to be above having needs and judges others who do

Codependent: Denies needs and tries to get them met by taking care of others needs

Charming: Tries to get needs met by charming people so needs don’t have to be expressed directly

Needy: Acts needy and dependent but denies it

Isolated: Has two underlying reasons for denying needs

Victim: Tries to get needs met indirectly by playing victim so he doesn’t have to admit he has them




Needy pattern doesn’t defend against needs

Isolated pattern defends even more strongly

Victim, codependent, and charming patterns can be indirect ways of getting needs met


Need-denying people may be attracted to codependent people if they can get their needs met without this being explicit

When a need-denying client lets go of this defense, he may become needy or victim

A need-denying parent could produce deprivation, abandonment, or punishment-for-need in children





Client can’t acknowledge needing anything from therapist.

Sometimes client can acknowledge adult needs but not child needs

Sometimes similar to needy pattern except the client can’t acknowledge what is happening because of shame


Countertransference of Need-Denying Therapist

Rejection or repulsion towards client’s needs because of defense against own




Forming the Alliance and Circumventing the Pattern

Don’t do anything to indicate that you think the client has excessive or childish needs


Understanding of Pattern Needed by Client

That the client has needs but doesn’t think that is OK

Realization there is nothing wrong with having needs. Even though child needs may not be appropriate in most adult relationships, they are still OK and important to explore in therapy. Inner child concept can help with this


Accessing Core Issue and Origins

The experience of being punished or shamed for needs or pain


Accessing Healthy Capacity

Feeling one’s needs


Healing Response

Appreciation for the client showing needs

Meeting needs, especially after access


Once the need-denying defense is seen through, the work is sometimes similar to the needy pattern because of the underlying emptiness core issue.