From something as innocent as convincing yourself that you are the best at what
you do, to the immediate response of the unsuspecting person finding evidence of
unfaithfulness within their relationship, it seems almost natural to dismiss or excuse what
is known in order to cope or shield ourselves from the hurtful truth. Self-deception or
delusion is not only something we all participate in, some more than others, but some
believe it is actually necessary and beneficial to one’s mental and physical well-being.
Or is it?
Some would argue the happiest most productive people are the very same people
that have successfully convinced themselves of things that just may not be realistic, or
essentially the truth. Take for example, the overconfident male, out at a bar or club.
He may be physically overweight, have boring mundane job, maybe even bad smelling
breath, unattractive and certainly annoyingly overconfident. As he makes his way to the
beautiful unsuspecting woman across the bar, he has told himself not only that he could
be a good match for her, but believes he could engage her in stimulating conversation,
possibly more. While you can’t blame a guy for trying, I’m sure for some men,
regardless of looks, hygiene, etc., this works some of the time. And when it doesn’t pan
out, it doesn’t seem to affect them because they have convinced themselves of their
otherwise charming personality and delusional regarding their appearance.
These examples of self-deceptions that are not potentially too harmful in my opinion, and
for some can be productive and even rewarding at times.
This sort of “gift “ of being able to mask our vulnerabilities with alternate realities and the evidence of it being beneficial to a happy lifestyle is
apparent even through experimentation.
In the 1970’s Psychiatrists Harold Sackeim and Ruben Gur came up with a self-
deception questionnaire which they took to local bars. There they asked rather private,
embarrassing or hard to answer questions ( like do you enjoy your own bowel
movements, or have you ever thought about committing suicide to get back at someone) ,
to see how people answer truthfully. How these questions were answered spoke to how
honest these people were within themselves. The most revealing part of the questionnaire
was the conclusion that the people who did not answer as honest as others, were
the same people who were the happiest and most productive.
The same outcome came when competitive swimmers took this same
questionnaire. All were at the same skill level and physical aptitude, yet they found that
those swimmers that tested low on the questionnaire all were the same swimmers who
consistently won and competed with better results, at higher levels. It is with these
examples that one could concluded that at some level self-deception can indeed be a good
Philosopher Nietzche would go so far as to say it is actually necessary for people to lie to
themselves in order to be happy.
In the case of the over confident male, the other alternative would be for the same,
said male to not even go out, become hopelessly unconfident, meet no one, and
potentially be lonely depressed and miserable.
I must admit, I slightly envy those who have the ability to be so overly
confident and blissfully unaware, but is ignorance really bliss as the saying goes? Is
honesty really the best policy when it comes to what you convince yourself of?
I would argue that there is a fine line between self-deception and seeing the world how it
really is through a veil of untruth.
Most people know of, or may have even once been someone who has been in a
relationship where the other person was unfaithful or even abusive. Despite actual
evidence of unfaithfulness or abuse, it is this very same...