Self-deceptionThe dynamics of the flow of information, both intra and inter-individuals, accuses a particularly human pathology: In order to avoid trouble, the person blocks key parts of its consciousness, which means create blind spots.

According to Goleman, this diagnosis applies to self-deception as well as shared deception. It also mentions that the pathology is not in any way novel: the monk Buddhaghosa, in the fifth century AD, wrote a Hindu text on psychology describing exactly the same distortion as moha, or “illusion”.

Buddhagosa defines illusion as “a mental fog that induces a mis-perception of the object of consciousness”, a characterization that coincides fairly closely with the data of modern cognitive psychology.

From their point of view, the illusion hides the true essence of things. Considered an “unintelligent attention”, the illusion leading to distorted vision, to a distorted interpretation of reality. Is, as stated by the monk, the root of all unhealthy states of mind.

The fascinating thing about Buddhagosa’s assessment of that human condition, in addition to its compatibility with modern views, is the antidote he prescribes. The cure for illusion, says Buddhaghosa, is the panna or discernment, to see things as they are. “

With this, I conclude that self-deception is one of the facets inherent in the human condition. One facet simple at the beginning, but gives exceptional stability to become social animals. I gather that both men and women have managed to turn self-deception in a fictitious source of stability.

It is important to begin to not allow self-deception: no person will modify (change) it he/she doesn’t want. Many people live in constant hope that they will succeed in changing one or the other. Don’t be fooled, nobody changes unless you want to do it yourself, but such self-deception keeps the bonds of love, hope and illusion.

This is one of the great paradoxes of the human condition, another aspect that, I infer, makes us extremely efficient compared to other animal species, because, despite all of the above, some people keeps in self-deception for the good, according to them, of mankind and its future generations. In fact, men and women, I gather, comes to conscious deception, but the animal lives in unconscious ignorance, which, although less reprehensible and more honest, it’s much more dangerous for the animal.

Unconscious Ignorance

It consists in not realizing that you’re ignoring danger or a reality. Animals are often ignorant of threats on them, so it’s easy to fool them with any hook to place them in a cage. Unconscious ignorance is dangerous; it provides peace of mind because it implies that it is alien and foreign to reality.

Another form of unconscious self-deception is when people do not realize what happens to them, but almost always have a coherent explanation of his suffering, a script that justifies everything that happens, but that really has nothing to do with his real pain. How could anyone help me or understand me, if I myself am confused, confused about what hurts or what I need?

Conscious Ignorance

Furthermore, conscious delusion is a symptom of intelligence. It consists of a voluntary deception to keep things running, but if the worst happens, we’ll see; while it does not happen, the system will hold, and, after all, for that matter, that what is about, for the system to hold. So is also life. Hemingway said,  “We live this life as if we carry another one in our suitcase.”  Pure self-deception, to tiptoe through life itself without caring too much if it was lived or wasted.

With this, self-deception is one of the facets inherent in the human condition. A simple facet at the beginning, but it gives an exceptional stability to become social animals. I gather that both men and women have managed to turn self-deception in a fictitious source of stability.

The person, I infer, is deluding itself deliberately. Sometimes because of fear and insecurity, low self-esteem and feelings of low self worth. In some cases, it is easier to lie to yourself and choose an easy road to face the fears. Self-deception is the path of least resistance and the least action required. In addition, it is easier to avoid a situation denying, justifying, hiding and avoiding conflict than confronting it.

As Freud said: These processes concern the pursuit of pleasure and the psychic activity retracts from behaviors that can engender displeasure. Then, the person through repression (defense mechanism) avoids anything unpleasant that may be retreating from any act that may engender displeasure. As a consequence and even for a while, it prefers to be deceived, before going through the pain of clearing self-deception. How is this done? You might ask. Very simple: In a relationship, a person reacts to a difficult situation of mistrust saying: ” I prefer not to ask to my partner if he is with someone else, because if he tells me the truth then I will have to take action on the matter”.  Thus “Out of sight, out of mind”. It is the same self-deception, because that person perceives that something is wrong.

It seems that some people are used to avoid conflict since infants. They prefer to take a passive approach and avoid situations that take an assertive attitude and begin to oppose them, and resolve conflicts directly as quickly and efficiently as possible (assertively). Instead of doing this, it is preferable for many people to use the fallacy of divine justice (automatic thought) and say “better leave things as they are, there will be better times where EVERYTHING will be solved”. The situations are not fixed by magic; you have to start doing something about it.

4 Tips to start getting out of self-deception

  • Dodging a conflict with which you constantly deal with will not make it go away, it will just make it longer. Do not be an ostrich burying its head and waiting for everything to pass, it’s time for you to start using autonomy.
  • There is always more than a viable alternative to solve a conflict, find the most appropriate to your situation.
  • Get help and support on how to fix things, if you really think beyond (not for convenience or for you to sort it out), Go to someone who already has experience with these issues. There is no better advice than someone who knows what you’re going through.
  • Conscious or unconscious self-deception reduces your autonomy and self-esteem, at some point you will realize that you are lying and you do this in order for you not to act. You are feeding a cowardice that will reduce your self-confidence.
  •  Every time you want to justify or deceive, start by accepting your reality, and put your feet on the ground.


  • Laplanche, Jean and Pontalis, Jean-Bertrand (1996), Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, translation by Gimeno Fernando Cervantes. Barcelona. Paidós Editorial
  • Freud, S, (1920). Beyond the Pleasure Principle.  Buenos Aires. McGraw Hill
  • Goleman, D. (1999) The psychology of self-deception. Buenos Aires.  Atlántida