Self-deception, Self- Delusion And Self-denial.

 I’ve been thinking lately about how those of us in sexless marriages are subject to denial , delusion and self-deceit.   Our spouses often excel in these areas – and we are not immune to them either.  The following is heavily summarised from an article on the Net called: Self-Deception, Self- Delusion and Self-Denial.

How is it possible for a highly intelligent person to have 'undeniable' evidence that nothing is changing and yet not take effective action to do anything about it?   The answer? self-deception, delusion and denial (self-DDD for short)
We can all apply this statement to our “refuser spouses”.  They have the “undeniable evidence” that we are miserable, yet they fail to take effective action.  And many of us have also self-DDD too!  I know that I stayed in a marriage of 20 years, with 13 years completely sexless (and 5 years prior to that of only 2-3 times a year) simply because I was in this state.   We (the ‘sex’ people) need to recognise how we have allowed this situation to occur in our lives too.  Paradoxically, the cause seems to be the same for both parties in the marriage . . . .

[Beginning of summary]
What is self-DDD?

When we deceive, delude or deny to our self, we mislead our self, we misrepresent or disown what we know to be true, we lie to our self, we refuse to acknowledge that which we know. In Vital Lies, Simple Truths, Daniel Goleman notes that we do not see what it is that we do not see, because:
The mind can protect itself against anxiety by diminishing awareness. This mechanism produces a blind spot: a zone of blocked attention and self-deception. Such blind spots occur at each major level of behaviour from the psychological to the social. (p. 22)

Psychological blind spots create a not-knowing about something. However, in order for a system to recognise what to avoid, deny or mislead, it has to maintain knowledge of what it knows to be true. In other words, deceiving our self requires that we both know and not-know something. This apparent paradox is one of the keys to understanding how self-DDD operates.

Stanley Cohen's book highlights that States of Denial are equally as evident with nations as with individuals:
People, organizations, governments or whole societies are presented with information that is too disturbing, threatening or anomalous to be fully absorbed or openly acknowledged. The information is therefore somehow repressed, disavowed, pushed aside or reinterpreted. Or else the information 'registers' well enough, but its implications -- cognitive, emotional or moral -- are evaded, neutralized or rationalized away. (p. 1)

Cohen goes on to explain how the ability to repress, disavow, push aside or reinterpret is often helpful, even necessary, in the development of our species and of civilisation. For example:
The inhabitants of Beirut, Bogota or Belfast cannot live in a permanent state of heightened awareness that a car bomb may go off at any minute. Some switching off is necessary to get through the round of everyday life. (p. 15)

Some people develop the capacity to switch off, turn a blind eye or fool themselves to such an extent that it limits their well-being and further growth. . . .. (Highlighted by Enna)   In less dramatic ways self-DDD features in everyone’s' life. Being able to deceive and delude ourselves is both natural and something that to some extent we all engage in. With a typical conflict or dilemma, we acknowledge both sides and that we don't know how to resolve it -- we do not deny there is a conflict.

While it is usual to think we self-DDD the unpleasant and troubling experiences of life, it is equally possible to deceive ourselves about pleasant experiences. . . . . (Highlighted by Enna)   The good news is, the paradoxical and contradictory nature of self-DDD patterns can be a doorway to the next level of personal development.

At the base of self-DDD are two contradictory representations or knowings. One is what we know to be true. The other is a misleading representation. At a higher, more complex level, we fool ourselves, temporarily, into thinking that 'what we know to be true' is not true and the misleading representation is true -- a double delusion.   

Our modelling shows that people have to employ a variety of methods to successfully self-DDD -- one is never enough.  We start from the premise that self-DDD has evolutionary adaptive value and in many situations is necessary for healthy functioning.   To self-DDD, that which is denied must also be maintained. This is for two reasons:
(i) if we were to completely forget, delete or distort the original knowing, we would no longer need to deceive our self (a person who tells a falsehood but who believes it to be true is not lying); and
(ii) we need to maintain a knowledge of what has to be denied in order to know what not to say and do.

To successfully self-DDD we have to maintain the delusion in the face of contradictory evidence and feedback that accumulates over time. This requires the system to learn a variety of ways to detect and neutralise potential threats which would reveal the self-DDDing process. However this cannot cope with every eventuality. Now and then inconsistencies and doubts surface in awareness. The result is an inner conflict and cognitive dissonance, which is itself highly unpleasant and therefore subject to more self-DDD. Eventually we learn to live what Jean Baudrillard calls a "simulation" of the truth.

Using an organic metaphor, the self-DDD process takes on a life of its own, and self-preservation becomes its purpose for existence.  Even when the deceiving process is noticed or pointed out, its very nature is to negate that information. (Highlighted by Enna)  Furthermore, to break out of this cycle we not only have to start living in accordance with what we know to be true, we have to admit to ourselves and others that we deceived. What makes this more difficult is that the longer we deceive; usually the harder it is to admit it. Hence the way out of self-deception is itself bound.

From this perspective, a person is not bad, resistant or weak-willed; they are doubly bound by their own patterns of thinking and feeling. They are in a self-created maze within which all exits appear to be sealed.  (Highlighted by Enna)

But, and it is a very big BUT, we cannot maintain the pretence of the simulation all the time. The configuration of self-DDD contains the seeds of its own transformation. By preserving what we know to be true we always have the potential to fully acknowledge what we have denied and to accept our capacity to deceive ourselves. As long as we recognise that we can fool ourselves, we can continue to live in accordance with this higher-level
truth.  [End of summary]

It is this “higher-level truth” that I believe is espoused by TahoeBaby.  It is essential in living life to our fullest capacity – but it is not always easy.  For many of us it is a long and difficult road - but is such a worthwhile one to take.  We have to start living in accordance with what we know to be true . . .  Good luck on your personal journey.

enna30 enna30
56-60, F
15 Responses Jul 28, 2010

Excellent post.<br />
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Only 16 comments here - I would love to see this re-posted so more can benefit from the information!

Because of the previous post by Flyingstone, I just now became aware of your post Enna,<br />
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All I can say, because you presented a lot of information, is that the point that seemed tp be significant to me was the following:<br />
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How we over inflate the happier moments or pleasant times. i guess it is a way of telling us things are not so bad, or are not so bad always.<br />
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Bottom line , We play mind games with ourselves.It is bad enough that our non sexual partners play mind games with us , but now you throw in our little tricks of the mind.<br />
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Well we are doomed. We are not even aware that we are doing it, let alone able to control the game, or even think about a way or a startegy to win.<br />
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The way I see it, it's game over, and the game hasn't even bugun, at least as far as the game goes of getting out. It's just too high of a goal post to ever get over and there are just too many blocks in front of me to get around.<br />
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Enna30<br />
"For many of us there comes a time when, even if our Refuser spouses offer to have sex with us, we no longer can. . . This is largely because we have stuffed down our sexual responses to them for so long that we have effectively "killed" our own ability to desire them and respond to them sexually"<br />
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thanks for vocalozing what I could not articulate. Its a downward spiral, and it doesnt acutomatically become better because he's offering mercy sex. I had a big bust-up last night with him because it seems there's no way out. Now, he accuses me of also having a 'problem'!!!! as you concluded Enna30, "even though our spouses may agree to have sex with us, wee perceive that they don't really WANT to . . . It is usually just to keep us from leaving them. It is hard to feel passionate and to desire someone if you feel they are only tolerating sex with you"

TB, great post - thanks!!!

Johnwozzle, if you care to read my stories on my profile you will find out all you need to know about me.<br />
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This post is not designed to replace sex (???) or for any reason other than to explain a psychological process that occurs in sexless marriages. Feel free to ignore it if you wish.

Wow, that was a long post. I think you need to stop thinking about sex so much and start having it. I can't even tell - are you male or female? (In all honesty, I agree with everything you're saying - especially about it being indicative of larger issues in the marriage.) However, I've found the best way to deal with it - is to take immediate action. Start banging someone - anyone. Then relentlessly pursue your spouse, don't listen to what they say, stop treating them like a human, you only want to get sex from them - the other stuff will work it's way out. Turn off your mind - and turn on your genitals. It works.

Scooter, perhaps you should read my stories before you decide you know all about me.

Great read, thanks for sharing that. You're right, both parties are engaging in self DDD.<br />

summing it up quickly, you don't wanna admit that your dude isn't into you so you create this fantasy world of reasons. it's not science people. if he aint shaggin you on a regular basis, you don't need a book or a talk to tell you to get the f8k out and find one who does luv ya. Men count on women to wade thru this crap rather than be decisive and leave. 20 years is way too long to spend pondering the condition.

Thank you all for your comments. I'm glad this article resonated with you as it did with me.<br />
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Mag, I truly understand your dilemma. And I hope you know that it is quite a common one here on ILIASM. For many of us there comes a time when, even if our Refuser spouses offer to have sex with us, we no longer can. . . This is largely because we have stuffed down our sexual responses to them for so long that we have effectively "killed" our own ability to desire them and respond to them sexually, IMO.<br />
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It can also be because, with clarity and understandfing, we come to realise that what we thought was "just sexlessness" as the problem in our marriages, is actually much more than that. Sexlessness is such a huge problem that it tends to mask others in the relationship. If you can put it aside, you might also realise that there are other reasons (sometimes directly related to sexlessness, sometimes not) that make you feel reluctant to be this person's lover. . . . . <br />
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And I think too, that even though our spouses may agree to have sex with us, wee perceive that they don't really WANT to . . . It is usually just to keep us from leaving them. It is hard to feel passionate and to desire someone if you feel they are only tolerating sex with you . . . . <br />
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I hope you can find the answers you need to make sense of your life Mag. Good luck.

Wow. Thanks Enna!

This is wonderful ..... so much to these words .... and I relate .. unfortunately ... I do ..<br />
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The willingness to accept and not to deceive ourselves and allow ourselves to feel the pain before the pleasure .... the fear ... will be overcome .... the will needs to be strong ...<br />
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Bless you for always giving so much to us here ....

Reinterpretation, wow Enna that just goes to show how much our minds can placate us with the use of that one word. You are fabulous. Find this post so very truthfully disturbing. Thanks

Once again enna, wise words and well written.<br />
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I am glad I know the truth now, it took a while mind you.<br />
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I deluded myself. No more. I am happy to pronounce this publicly now.<br />
The ability to recognise and admit this is freedom indeed.<br />
Also the ability to recognise self delusion enhances ones life outside of the relationships we live with in this group.<br />
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Thanks for the post enna, I hope others will benefit from it too.

We deceive ourselves that our spouse still loves us, even as he/she subjects us to emotional abuse. It's just a really tough fact to accept. <br />
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ILIASM member HardToBear posted a great story about this on April 9, 2010<br />
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<a href="" target="ep_blank">EP Link</a>