Psychology and Psychiatry


Self-deception - this is the property of the psyche of self-suggestion of thoughts that do not correspond to objective reality or distort its individual elements, in other words, it is a defense mechanism of the psyche. This property of the psyche may be a situational or well-established form of psychological response.

Self-deception is the desire to present to your own perception, consciousness and memory a more attractive course of events or a series of situations, instead of the actual ones.

The concept of self-deception is widely used in humanitarian-oriented areas, depending on the scientific area of ​​its use, and acquires various nuances of interpretation.

In psychology, self-deception is often called the terms repression, denial, and illusory thinking. Among the prerequisites of self-deception are the tendency to the emergence of excessive feelings of guilt, exceeding the tolerable limits of fear, the lack of a sense of independence, a collision with psycho-traumatic situations.

What is self-deception?

This concept is quite complex, it assumes in its determination such mental mechanisms that mislead a person (unconscious mechanisms), as a result of which the person loses the ability to be an adequately perceiving and objective person regarding his own life and the events taking place. A person in a state of delusion is prone to embellishing facts (for example, self-esteem) or ignoring flaws, unpleasant events.

Self-deception in psychology is not limited to the action of defense mechanisms; in addition, it is defined as deliberate lies, repression, and a life strategy of escaping from oneself. This protective mechanism arises under certain conditions, situations in which a person does not want or is mentally unable to perceive the truth, then he begins to lie to himself, and this type of deception is harder to recognize.

It is far from always that a person can identify by speaking with the interlocutor deception in speech, but this is possible. The pace and intonation of speech at the interlocutor change, new movements and poses appear, the frequency of breathing and pulse changes - all this can be noticed, but it is sometimes an impossible task to recognize deception.

Representation of life the way a person wants to see it can plunge into a pleasant state close to happiness, when some of the presented events correspond to fantasy. If the situation unfolds on the reverse side, the collapse of fantasies, projections, defenses, and a person’s perception of the world takes place in gloomy colors, where he has to deal with what he “ran away” so long and diligently for.

In serious and global situations of self-deception, depression, mental disorders, and suicidal tendencies may eventually develop, when reality manifests itself to its fullest extent. Thus, we see that this ability of the psyche can, both save, give time for the accumulation of resources, and finally destroy the psyche, if you abuse self-deception and strongly break away from reality.

The method of self-deception is different from how deception of another person occurs. The problem of self-deception will be simplified many times, if we take it as the same problem, but in relation to ourselves. This proceeds from the fact that to deceive one’s own consciousness is a more laborious process, besides this, in the perception of each person there is a desire to deceive rather than to be deceived, which in the case of self-deception again causes certain difficulties.

There is an assumption that self-deception is not the provision of false information to oneself, but the fragmentation of consciousness in such a way that certain of its components are invisible or inaccessible for perception. The transfer of any information to the inaccessible part occurs through conscious mechanisms and is protective for the psyche.

The function of self-deception is not so much a distortion of the truth as a delay in its awareness. This enables a person to endure traumatic and difficult events of reality, the ability to move forward, forgetting failures, to remain in contact, despite the negative actions of others.

The process of self-deception can contribute to the development of many other human qualities, for example, such as self-esteem, resistance to stress, activity. Delaying awareness information helps to accumulate the necessary personal resource for coping with the problem.

Different people have different ability to create or resist to self-deception, there are cases when a person even creates false memories in order to maximize the interest of fictitious facts. The development of this mechanism is interrelated with such feature as suggestibility, exposure to the influence of the reference group, stability and strength of the mental system.

Causes of self-deception

The problem of self-deception can affect, without exception, every person. The reasons for this are a great many.

The first reason for using self-deception mechanisms is fear. Fear of recognizing and recognizing one's own part of guilt, negative manifestations of character, or committed acts that affect the level of self-esteem (these aspects prefer to push out from the conscious field of view or put opposite positive qualities in their place). This also includes the fear of own responsibility for decisions, actions, life (instead, a person distorts reality, as if the events taking place are subject to the influence of external circumstances, fate, or he was the victim of someone's influences). Also, one of the archaic mechanisms for launching self-deception — the fear of someone stronger or more dangerous (may take the form of depreciating danger or exaggerating one’s own capabilities) also belongs to the variety of causes of fear.

The next most important factor in the emergence of self-deception is an understated level of self-esteem. This is due to the fact that it is easier for a person without reliable internal supports to invent an attractive idea of ​​themselves and make them really perceived than to face lower self-esteem, which causes a lot of negative emotions. It is also worth noting that the reason for self-deception may also be inadequately inflated self-esteem, when a person looks down upon what is happening, does not listen to others, is sure of his exclusivity.

Traumatic situations, heartache, the inability to find a way out of a painful situation and then a person will choose not to notice the source of such strong emotions. Here we are talking about the action of the mechanism of psychological protection, the purpose and function of which is to save consciousness from overloads. When self-deception performs the function of psychological protection, then with its help existing ideas and views about oneself and the world are preserved, the integrity of the individual is protected under the threat of destructive information. Such a mechanism contributes to better security and adaptation of the inner world of a person, however, it has a detrimental effect on external and social adaptation, because the objectivity of external reality is precisely at this moment excluded. This defense mechanism gives a person the opportunity to survive a critically severe and destructive blow, but subsequently it is necessary to bring the hidden information into the area of ​​consciousness so that contact with reality is not completely lost. This work is almost impossible on its own, and is very common in the framework of psychotherapy.

Pessimism and optimism in their extreme forms belong to self-deception. A person seeks confirmation of his ideas, may provoke the emergence of confirming situations, and if in the case of optimism it has a positive vector, then striving to prove pessimistic ideas, a person can destroy his own life. Self-deception can cause both benefit and harm. Thus, under self-deception, a person does not notice the deficiencies in the object of love, may become ill or recover, depending on what direction the deceptive information takes.

The human psyche itself is structured in such a way that we better remember positive information about ourselves than negative information. For this, no effort is made to keep both information in a conscious field of view and negative information is simply hidden or erased, positive memories or positive memories come up in its place.

Another reason for the emergence of self-deception is the stereotype of thinking, lack of education, attachment to patterns of behavior, which does not allow to perceive the updated information and is critical to changing living conditions.

Self-deception in religion

There is a lot of controversy about self-deception in religion, their connections and root causes. According to one of the stated points of view, the postulates of religion are initially illusory and have only relative involvement in the existing reality, therefore, the person’s belief in the concepts provided is absurd and self-deception. From this point of view (religion as self-deception) is, of course, a phenomenon that in its extreme manifestations brings only negative influences and consequences for the individual. Others consider the concept of religion to be true, but nevertheless with the amendment that only the religious trend held by the person is true and true, and all others are false. In this paradigm of perception, religion is not self-deception, and is perceived as a blessing.

These two extremes cannot fully describe the mechanisms of religious influences and perceptions. Objectivity is between these models. The basis of religious trends is not only lies and self-deception or only truth, it is a combination of these factors, where self-deception often closes the truth, because of the needs of the human person.

All religions have a basis for pattern thinking, standards of behavior adopted by the reference group, and are rather cruel in their punishments for people who do not correspond to these parameters. Concepts of religion are built in such a way that they bring in a large percentage of magic, which contributes to reducing the critical perception of reality. This leads to the fact that in the future a person can inspire almost any idea, and he, in turn, relying on faith and self-deception, will complete all the necessary elements of reality so that the proposed picture becomes a reality in his perception.

Religious self-deception helps a person to remain a person, to preserve his personality and socially oriented behaviors, which generally contributes to both moral preservation and physical survival. However, acquiring extreme aspects of its manifestation, it can be as dangerous as it is life-saving. Believing in the manifestation of various miracles, a person begins to neglect adequate security measures, perform logically unjustified actions, and neuropsychiatric diseases and symptoms may occur.

As in any sphere of human existence, self-deception takes place in the religious aspects of life, the degree of its influence, and whether it is positive for a person or not, cannot be determined once and for all. This is a combination of a huge number of vital factors, personality traits, which, in their combination, predetermine the effect of self-deception.