In fact, denial works--at least for a while--and that is why it is so often resorted to in extremus.
Some of the positive consequences of psychological denial include:
• In the short-term, psychological denial can help a person maintain their sanity--which would be threatened by awareness of a painful truth or reality
• In the short-term, denial can help a person function day to day
• In the short-term, denial can prevent a person from having to acknowledge painful thoughts, feelings or behavior and help them maintain their worldview from unacceptable reality
The operative word in all of the above is "in the short-term." In the short-term, even the unhealthiest of defenses--such as denial, projection, paranoia-- may be creative, healthy, comforting, and coping. And, while they may strike observers as downright peculiar at times, in the short-term, they may be transiently adaptative.
In fact, psychological denial is a way to integrate one's experience by providing a variety of filters for pain and mechanisms for self-deception. It creatively rearranges the sources of conflict the individual faces so that the conflict becomes manageable.
But let us now consider some of the negative consequences of psychological denial:
• In the longer-term, denial requires a continued compromises with reality to maintain the pretense that "Everything is fine!" or "If only X would happen, everything would be fine!" Eventually, delusional thinking, along with paranoia and its inevitable conspiracy theories begin to take the place of rational thought in those who deny reality for long periods of time. (see all the 9/11 conspiracy theorists for examples in our own country; or the more recent comments of former President Clinton--once considered a "moderate" democrat, who now fully adheres to the model that the Republicans have manufactured a culture of fear in order to fool the American public into thinking we are at war (read the transcript linked below). See here and here for common examples in the muslim world which is rife with conspiracies and which could not exist as a cohesive society without them).
• The denier must then place the blame for the unacceptable reality on someone else and that leads to increased conflict between deniers and non-deniers. Efforts to maintain their denial consumes them and will lead them to escalate their anger and rage as their denial becomes untenable and ever more obvious.
• The denier will begin distort language and logic to rationalize and justify their behavior(examples of this are too numerous to mention, but I have discussed it here , here and here) . Eventually, cognitive strategies and rational argument will be abandoned altogether by the denier, because those strategies are not sustainable and are unable to convince others; at which point the person in denial will simply refer to his feelings or emotions as the sole justification.
• The denier will feel justified in acting out against those who threaten the peacefulness of their fantasy (check out the "peacefulness" and "reasonable" slogans chanted at most antiwar rallies these days).
• Problem solving and decision making will deteriorate as the entire focus of energy becomes the maintenance of the denial. In place of rational alternatives, excessive emotionality in general; and specifically anger and rage escalate toward those who are "blamed" for the reality that does not conform to the denier's worldview. (consider the lack of any specific ideas in the Democratic party's agenda; or it's reflex negativity toward any substantive postition or any compromise offered to them. The recent stats on voting for the detainee treatment bill in Congress should suffice to convince you that these people are not serious about the GWOT. They simply want to be able to mouth useless platitudes about American "values" and how Bush is destroying the country).
• In the end, interactions with those in denial are characterized by the denier's frequent smugness; sense of superiority; arrogance; belittlement of alternative views; and undiluted hatred toward anyone or any idea that questions their worldview.
The left's current concensus view on terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terror and Freedom is flatly wrong and cannot be justified or supported by the facts that are available. Their rhetoric is designed to obfuscate and deny objective reality --which they don't even believe in to begin with (or, they believe in it until it become threatening then they seek refuge behind postmodern political rhetoric). The motivation for their continual Bush/Republican bashing is simple: Bush is the current symbol of their demise--the fly in their utopian ointment; the light shining in their darkness; or, to be more precise, the symbol of the end of their ideology.
How do I know this? Since Bush's election at the millennium, things have been going very badly for the left. As the real world presses in on them, their voices have become more shrill and hysterical; their rage is escalating out of control. No longer do most of them even bother to argue their points logically; they simply loudly denounce any idea or person who threatens their worldview; or deliberately and with the ruthless finesse of all tyrants and thugs, simply attempt to supress all dissenting opinions.
9/11 did not wake them up; rather it forced them to openly move toward what they have supported surreptitiously all along--the elimination of free speech in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism; a dictatorship where the pseudo-intellectual, politically correct priesthood rule; and complete control over the lives of others (for their own good, of course!). Since their objectives dovetail nicely with those of the Islamic terrorists, they have made common cause with them and have not lost many opportunities to enable and encourage them, even as they denounce America and the principles of freedom and democracy out of one side of their mouth, while remaining convinced that their actions are patriotic and are representative of "true" American values. I listened in disbelief yesterday as Democrat after Democrat denounced the compromise bill that defines for detainees what torture is and isn't. To a person, they paid lip-service to being against torture (whatever it might be); and to a person it was obvious that the detainees "rights" were paramount. How strange that they don't give individual's in our own society the same "rights" to express their religion as they would like in public; or that they denounce opinions with which they differ with such passion. How nice it would be to see them behave consistently for a change....but it isn't going to happen because they just don't see it.
That's what denial is all about. It allows the most blatant contradictions in thinking, and the individual does not ever have to account for those contradictions because they don't perceive them. Facts, schmacts.
They pretend their actions are motivated from love and peace and patriotism; but this is only how they rationalize it to themselves. Their self-deception and denial is simply stunning in its sweeping grandiosity and self-righteousness betrayal of the good.
Careful observation and analysis of behavior is what I do for a living. I am very good at it. My patients tend to get well for the most part. I am not always correct and I have a great tolerance for ambiguity and doubt. I can be convinced that I am incorrect because I accept my own humanity and its limitations. But if you want to convince me, you will have to give me some compelling argument that is rational and which conforms to what I observe in the real world. Calling me names and threatening me (try reading my email for a week) just will not do it; and, quite frankly, only confirms my premises.
If you can look in the mirror and truly know yourself, including all those hidden motives and agendas and unresolved issues in life which we all must grapple with; you can gain some control over your own life; make choices and attack problems based on a clear view of reality. Yes, people may still make the wrong choices, or screw up in dealing with the problems even when they are aware of their own unconscious conflicts. Human beings are not perfect.
But when denial distorts or obscures reality, people are far more likely to make the wrong choices and ignore the serious problems (I'm sorry, but I just can't get behind Gay Marriage as being the most 'serious' problem our country faces right now. News alert: We happen to be at war with savages who want to kill everyone who doesn't submit to their religious beliefs) . Their energy becomes solely focused on maintaining and nurturing the denial as they get angrier and more out of touch with reality all the time. Granting terrorists constitutional rights and the privileges of American citizenship; wasting time on attacking the Bush Adminsitration for defending us agains bloodthirsty savages, who signed no Geneva Convention, and who have zero--zero--respect for human rights is the height of self-delusion and psycholgoical denial.
What in God's name are these people thinking of, you might ask? I maintain that they are thinking of themselves. Their particular brand of denial comes from the smug, self-righteousness of a distorted sense of moral superiority that would be downright laughable, if it wasn't so dangerous to me, my family, and my fellow citizens.
As long as the left continues to live in the world of denial and play their rhetorical games and use their non-logic to justify the unjustifiable; to tolerate the intolerable; and support the unsupportable; then I will continue to blog and expose their motives and hidden agendas; and do everything I can to prevent them from regaining political power.
This means that no matter how badly I think of the current crop of Republicans--and I do think very badly of them--when the alternative is the Party of Denial--better known as the Democrats and the loud lunatic fringe that they cater to--then the Republicans are going to get my vote every time. Where once I had the luxury of voting for third party candidates (e.g. libertarian), the stakes are far too crucial now to waste my votes.
As one of the commenters on a previous thread put it:
"Because reality and truth matter-- terribly."
The next most important thing pales to insignificance by comparison. This is why the MSM, the left, the Islamics, and all who are at war with reality must distort, misdirect, deflect, cast blame falsely, deny, and otherwise attempt to confuse. In the long run they can only lose the war. The only question is how much the rest of us will lose in the meantime.
How much will the rest of us lose? The loss in lives and destruction could be incalculable.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin wonders how liberal sleep at night--and has some interesting data. (hat tip: EE)