It is common among my friends and family to shake our heads in disbelief about the attitudes and beliefs of those who seem to be in denial about the scientific facts of the corvid-19 virus, climate changes, fluoride in water, and much more.
At first glance it would appear that those with opposing views that deny the scientific facts being presented are stupid, uneducated, or simply the result of false information. But our beliefs are based on much more than just facts. How we comprehend facts, see life, and interact as communities are based on a series of influences in our life.
The world, the reality of life is distorted by self-interest, peer sways, prejudice, fear, and favoritism ad nauseum. Most of us are not aware of the influences our motives have on our factual understanding of the evidence for our conclusions. We tend to prefer explanations that corroborate our favored view of things and life. We seek explanations and opinions that confirm our prejudices. We will shun, ignore, and avoid any information that does not align with our prejudices and ideology of our group. Most of us even routinely assure ourselves that we are more objective than our philosophical rivals’.
We maintain our selected state of belief by selective attention to the aspects of facts that fit our view of life. When we are in a state of denial, we are in a state of self-deception about the real causes of our beliefs. As a country we seem to be living more and more in states of differing realities. The partisan displayed in our politics is playing out in our communities and groups. The justifications we offer for our philosophical stances on scientific data are infused with our unconscious biases. The larger realm of the collective unconscious is playing out in our individual consciousness. The biases, the need to belong to our group (often groups within groups) is leading down a road of ethical, and political destruction. The terrorist within each of us is winning the war. Objectivity, reality, Truth is being lost in a pool of self-interest.
The environment of polarization, prejudice, bias, and willful self-deception is toxic for any kind of real discourse on the needs of the whole on matters of fact. This is stymying actions that are needed globally, locally, and personally for survival of all kinds. Denial concerns all of us both as victim or perpetrator. My goal is to help us better understand the unconscious biases and self-deception running amuck in our personal lives, communities, and national scenario.
The study of the unconscious mind should not be limited to philosophers, psychologist, or politicians wanting to sway our views. It is a study for all of us to understand our choices and why we behave and think as we do. This is not a study to tell anyone what is wrong or right, but to help the individual become aware, self-aware of our actions, reactions, and beliefs and the results in our life.
The word denial can suggest a disbelief rather than an affirmation. But it can do both, for instance I am not an alcoholic, (even if the evidences say I get drunk regularly and suffer many negative consequences) or affirmatively, I can stop any time. Both are based on an unrealistic view of the realty of the situation. Our tendency is to deny uncomfortable truths. Denial is grounded on how our thinking is motivated. Our motivated cognition is based on our unconscious inclination to process information in the manner that suits our end goals. Many times, we use a kind of overt rationalization of beliefs that retroactively invent defensive justification for our actions and allegiances.
In the next few days I am going to be talking more about denial and the unconscious mind and the impulses we are faced with in today’s atmosphere.
© Suzanne Deakins 2020 Straight Thinking, Translating the Unconscious Mind