Addictions: Vital Lies, Simple Truths

Essay by morch76University, Master'sA+, April 2005

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Self-deception is a matter of perception. For some self-deception is a way of coping with an unreal and unfair reality. For others, self-deception can lead to an act of heroism. Self-deception is an act of selection. The question however remains, "Why do we practice self-deception?" There are many reasons why individuals choose consciously and unconsciously to practice self-deception.

Self deception is defined as "the act of deceiving oneself or the state of being deceived by oneself." Self-deception is the process of misleading ourselves to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid. Self-deception, in short, is a way we justify false beliefs to ourselves. Often when psychologists discuss self-deception, they usually focus on unconscious motivations and intentions. They also usually consider self-deception as a bad thing or something to guard against. To explain how self-deception works, they focus on self-interest, prejudice, desire, insecurity, and other psychological factors unconsciously affecting in a negative way the will to believe.

Self-deception may be understandable in purely cognitive terms without any reference to unconscious motivations or irrationality. The self-deception may be neither a moral nor an intellectual flaw. It may be the inevitable existential outcome of a basically honest and intelligent person. It is not necessary to know whether self-deception is due to unconscious motivations or not in order to know that there are certain situations where self-deception is so common that we must systematically take steps to avoid it. Such is the case with belief in paranormal or occult phenomena such as extrasensory perception, prophetic dreams, therapeutic touch, or facilitated communication.

Many people believe, however, that as long as they guard themselves against "wishful thinking" they are unlikely to deceive themselves. Actually, if one believes that all one must be on guard against is wishful thinking, then one...