“To err is human. To cover it up is weasel.” (Scott Adams).
A therapist friend recommended a new book called “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Tavris and Aronson. I read a couple chapters and then skimmed through the rest. It reminded me of books by Malcolm Gladwell and the “Nudge” guys who are friends of Obama. Simple premise and lots of interesting examples. The premise in “Mistakes” is that people use a lot of self justification to defend bad decisions or hurtful behavior. Another phrase for this is “cognitive dissonance”. Cognitive dissonance is the “state of tension that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions) that are psychologically inconsistent, such as their example: “Smoking is a dumb thing to do because it will kill me” and “I smoke two packs a day.” (Not sure this is the best example as tobacco is addictive so there’s a reason it’s hard to stop the dumb thing.) They also use the example of trying to make sense out of contradictory ideas such as Albert Camus’ idea that humans spend their lives trying “to convince ourselves that our existence is not absurd”. This causes anxiety in most humans , they say.
It hit me that these psychologists must not be Jungians. Carl Jung embraced contradictions and was not cowed by them. The whole concept of the shadow aka our dark side is based on humans being born hardwired in a certain way but through the software of life that includes families, friends, and work, we begin to experience our opposites; the contradictions in life. If we learn and grow and accept these opposites/ contradictions, we are healthy. If we just can’t see our “dark side”, we don’t know that we live in a place called Weaseltown. Continue reading