Self Deception as a Good Thing?

30 Nov

Sorry for my lack of activity on this website. I have just had a Thanksgiving break, and now have 3 weeks of the semester left and school is getting more and more stressful, so the writing may be sparse from here on out.

In an ethics class the other day, the issue of self deception came up and made we want to talk more about it. Self deception is something that is looked at psychologically and epistemologically. This is an issue that defies logic and reason. When one comes upon a situation and that person deceives him/herself, the deception involved may defy logic and reason. This utter temporary rejection of reason and logic makes me want to think about it more. When I talk about it here I am thinking mostly about the dire situations people have in life only.

If you want to look into it beyond my ramblings about it you can go to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article about it here:  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/self-deception/

Also, there is a 20 question questionnaire to find out if you deceive yourself. I could not find the entire questionnaire, but a blog contains a few of them and discusses them. I found this blog helpful in understanding self deception:                     http://melissafiction.blogspot.com/2010/06/28-self-deception-questionnaire.html

Self deception is something that a mind does when one wants to believe something that they know is not true. Thinking of it in an example, have you ever had any hatred for either of your parents? If you say no, you are deceiving yourself. I would think there is an issue deeper below your answer of no. There are many other questions like this where if you answer no you are/have been deceiving yourself (another one, to any attractive girl do you think of them as hot/sexy/very attractive?). My thoughts on this entire matter is that people deceive themselves because they want to believe something as truth (I’m sure most see it as this in one way or another).

Go to this link to see a key example of self deception:  http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s13e05-fishsticks This is a South Park episode where Jimmy comes up with the joke “Do you like fishsticks? Yes. Do you like to put fishsticks in your mouth? Yes. What are you a gay fish?”. Cartman just happened to be present when Jimmy comes up with the joke. Cartman ends up rationalizing with self deception (as he does with everything else) that he himself came up with the joke and Jimmy had little part in it, when really Jimmy came up with the whole thing. Just watch the episode, not only will you see some examples of self deception but you will get a great laugh. Many South Park episodes involve Cartman who do these ‘mental gymnastics’ as Kyle puts it.

Self deception can go one of two ways. It can go the way where one goes about believing something untrue that they just want to believe (Cartman believing he came up with the fishsticks joke to get all the fame and to be awesome), or it can go the way that one believes something they would never really want to be true ( a man believing his wife cheats on him because of mere suppositions with little evidence of her doing this). I think also that self deception can be done subconsciously or intentionally.

First I think we should look at the truth when viewing one’s own life. Life itself is a hard thing to take, and truths of it are hard to maintain. Because of this it is my thought that self deception can be a good thing rather than bad. It can be a bad thing most of the time (especially the other way self deception goes, or twisted self deception), because logic and reason are set aside in self deception. It can be immediately understood, and it as well should be, that self deception is a bad thing because the truth should be always what is sought after. For the most part truth is what we all try to find. When looking at other things besides aspects of science, history, philosophy and other disciplines, such as one’s life and the problems it has, truth might not be the best thing for a person.

Truth of one’s life is a hard thing to keep depending on the situation. Keeping one’s sanity may be at stake when looking at the truth. The truth is painful and can often do more harm than good in certain specific situations. It is because of this that I think that regular and regulated (rather I have no idea how) self deception is not a bad thing.

Self deception pushing the truth away I think should only be temporary. One’s truth needs to be confronted and accepted at some point because in the end I think truth is the most important thing one keeps, even if it is held off for short or long periods of time.

I keep talking about one pushing the truth away, and that one should confront and accept the truth at a certain point. This is more difficult than immediately said.  I have heard this in more places than in just my thoughts. To even be thinking about self deception of oneself, that person must ask him/herself “Have I been deceiving myself? and if so where?” If this is answered by the person honestly, one’s self deceptions can be unpacked and evaluated for the real truth about one’s life to come out.

I have done this once all of problems and issues in life have receded, and it is really a good thing to view the truths one has denied.

This was just a simple bunch of thoughts I had on the subject of self deception, and my apologies if it was too random and mis concentrated.

I like to think of self deception (not the twisted self deception) as white lies we tell ourselves for the good of ours and others’ lives.

If you feel differently please say so on Twitter, email, or comment below.

Thanks for the support.

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