Gary's Guidance: Just A Little Fooling Thyself or Is It Self-Deception

February 2013

Just a Little Fooling Thyself or Is It Self-Deception 

The subject of self-deception is a very complex phenomenon, and since this text is limited to 250 words, self-deception will be simply addressed.  I recently listened to a person state they eat a healthy diet while evidence suggested the contrary.  This evidence was based on their obesity and my witnessing the types of food they routinely consumed.  This person was actually convinced that they only consume healthy foods and never consumed junk food such as candy, sugared sodas, etc.  This person was on a path to having more serious medical problems.

Psychologically speaking, most of us have participated in some form of denial and rationalization, and both are involved in forming self-deception.  Most people have emotional attachments to beliefs or “wishful thinking,” such as the gambler who is self-deceived in believing that their gambling is under control, or the control freak that is self-deceived in believing that they no longer micro-manage others.  As with these examples, a person can become self-destructive or even harmful to others if they are enabled, and untreated for making changes. On the other hand, self-deception can be useful in coping since denying, avoiding the truth, or confabulating may be necessary in protecting oneself.  A person sometimes is not emotionally ready to hear the truth let alone knowing what to do in dealing with it.

Deconstructing self-deception can be difficult because it requires a longer process of using therapeutic confrontation, redirection, reassurance, education, and positive reinforcement.  Interventions not only take time, but also involve the degree in which someone is motivated to change.  In closing, think about ways you may be fooling yourself.

Gary Kozick, LCSW

(215) 510-8901