Monday, September 18, 2006


I am sure that there will be many who are delighted to hear this news from the Toronto Film Festival (hat tip: OBH):
"Death of a President," which stirred controversy in the days ahead of the festival, took home the Fipresci prize, which is chosen by international critics. The film, a fictional documentary showing the assassination of President Bush, was noted by the jury "for the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth."

This is a rather amazing assessment of a film in which a sitting president of the U.S. is shown assassinated, if you think about it.

Where to begin? How about with "audacious", a term that can mean adventurous, daring, bold, or original?

How adventurous, daring, bold, or original is it these days to hate, despise, revile, and generally compete with each other to denounce the U.S. President and everything he does or doesn't do in order to publicly demonstrate your BDS bona fides?

Yeah, yeah. Every Hollywood star worth his or her salt has the delightful fantasy that they will imminently be imprisoned, tortured, and/or oppressed in some vile manner because they have the audacity to criticize Bush...but come on! It has been 5 years and I am not aware that any have yet to be locked up for their audacity. But still they continue to think of themselves as heroic and brave standing up to a democratically elected president.


Might I suggest that original, bold, and even daring behavior would be creating a movie that breaks out of the breathtaking conformity of thought that has dulled the brains of Hollywood elites? Now, that would be audacious. Not to mention unbelievable.

In what universe to these leftist suck-ups live, pray tell?

Now, let's get to the good part: "distorting reality to reveal a larger truth".

Here's why I get paid the big bucks in psychiatry.

When people "distort reality" and have the delusion that by doing so they are revealing a "larger truth"--we tend to refer to them as mentally ill; and, in general do not give them awards for such behavior, but do our best to help them return to a modicum of functioning in the real world.

Now, I wouldn't dream of calling the makers of this film and the lunatics who made the award assessment mentally ill--primarily because most of the mentally ill people I deal with have far more sense. But I have no compunction whatsoever in discussing the self-absorbed (i.e., narcissistic) paranoia and denial that is clearly interfering with their ability to cope with reality and truth.

Denial is a complex psychological process where, while there may be some conscious knowledge or awareness of an event in the world, a person fails to feel the emotional impact, or to see the logical consequences of that event.

It is an attempt to reject unacceptable feelings, needs, thoughts, wishes; or to reject a painful external reality that might force us to alter the perception of ourselves or the world. As a psychological defense mechanism, denial protects us temporarily from:

-Knowledge (things we don’t want to know)
-Insight or awareness that threatens our self-esteem; or our mental or physical health; or our security (things we don't want to think about)
-Unacceptable Feelings (things we don’t want to feel or are ashamed of feeling)

Denial, as one of the most primitive and basic psychological defense mechansims can also be thought of as the "root cause"-- to use phrase popular on the left-- of most of the other psychologicaldefenses. All have an element of basic denial, or the avoidance of reality, for the purpose of blocking out something unpleasant for the individual using them. For example, denial can go to college (intellectualization); it can make the person experiencing it feel virtuous by transforming the denier into the object or victim of the unacceptable feelings--instead of its subject (projection and in extreme cases, paranoia). It can grossly distort the reality to serve some internal need (distortion); It can even completely ignore causality, and the real issue and displace all that intense affect onto something or someone much less threatening (displacement).

Denial, in other words, allows an individual to distort reality for a very specific purpose. And that purpose has little to do with larger truths and everything to do with avoiding truth.

At the center of all psychological denial is a hidden agenda. That agenda is usually not completely conscious--meaning that the denier has not thought through the issues surrounding his denial; and may not even be aware of what his motivation is in asserting something is true when it isn't; or false when it isn't.

The hidden agenda or underlying motivation behind the denial is very frequently related to the potential adverse consequences that could ensue if the denial were eliminated and reality acknowledged. That is where the unnacceptable feelings, needs, and thoughts come in. The denier (or part of him) has made an unconscious decision that awareness of certain feelings, needs, or thoughts is more threatening to his sense of self than the act of denial.

You could actually say that the larger truth which does gets obscured by the process of psychological denial is something fundamental about the denier that they don't want to look at.

Let's give an example. Say a person who thinks of himself as a caring, compassionate individual really really hates his father. Usually, such knowledge must be audaciously distorted and disguised by the psyche so that the individual can go on thinking of himself as caring, compassionate and loving since it goes without saying that caring, compassionate, and loving people do not experience hate. Or, if they did, the experience might actually make said person reflect a bit on his motivations and assumptions about self.

The psyche is very creative and bold in such situations. Using projection, the individual may come to think that his father hates him (much more acceptable because then he is the victim of father's hate, and not vice versa); or using fantasy, he might imagine himself boldly killing and evil man or a monster. He might even (gasp) act out by making a movie about a heroic man who kills his father and saves the world from the father's evil!

The options are virtually limitless if one wants to avoid dealing with the evil and rot residing within, you see. If one wants to avoid looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for one's own anger, rage, hatred and murderous impulses.

Psychological insight is a precious commodity in this world. The power or act of seeing into a situation and apprehending the inner nature or motivation of one's self--especially the why--can be extremely liberating, allowing a person to gain control over their own behavior.

But insight can also be devastating and can generate deserved guilt and shame; which in turn may be the motivators that initiate a change in behavior for the good.

While it is painful to acknowledge horrible truths--but truths nonetheless-- about one's self, such understanding is essential for personal growth and normal personality development.

Those who audaciously distort and deny reality--even when they win prestigious awards from other delusional people for their efforts; or when they bask in the sunlight of popularity polls--cannot forever evade the larger truth that there is something very rotten and sick within their own souls. They seek to avoid it, but that is wishful thinking on their part.

Both reality and truth have a rather nasty habit of not going away.

UPDATE: Oh, by the way, this fellow is one of many who are presently audaciously distorting reality to reveal a larger truth. Unbeknownst to them, however, the "larger truth" that is being exposed by their antics is not the one they happen to be promoting.

UPDATE II: While I'm on the subject of the insanity overrunning the Islamic world because they are unable to face truth -- particularly the reality of their own religion SC&A has this to say
Much of the Islamic world has painted itself into a corner. The vicious hate that has been brought to the fore cannot be hidden away at will and pulled out when necessary, to be used as a tool to intimidate, as it was during the cartoon riots.

Vicious hate is the key phrase here; and if there is any psychological insight at play or ownership of feelings--either within those who want to assassinate the Pope or the loving leftists who would rather assassinate Bush--then this psychiatrist is unable to see it.

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