It’s so important to see through our psychological defenses if we want to become emotionally strong and escape from suffering. Through our defenses, we lie to ourselves in much the way that parents lie to children to protect them from life’s harsher realities.
Some experts believe that psychological defense mechanisms serve a good purpose. One expert, writing at the Psychology Today website, said, “Psychological defenses are forms of self-deception we employ to avoid unbearable pain.”
“They also protect you,” said another writer at the same website, “from the anxiety of confronting your weaknesses and foibles.”
“They work as shock absorbers and help a person deal with pain,” according to another website.
Wow! Thank goodness for these defenses. Without them, we’d apparently be bouncing and rattling down the road in spasms of pain.
Wait a minute! What is this “unbearable pain” that we’re protecting ourselves from? Wouldn’t it be better if we were to see it clearly? Wouldn’t that give us a better chance to heal or resolve it? Our defenses, it seems, are preventing us from seeing ourselves more objectively. Well, what is it we don’t want to see? What reality or pain is so dangerous or threatening that we must navigate life’s highways in a truth-proof armored vehicle with jolt-free shock-absorbers?
One of the above writers provides the following answer. She says that (in a situation in which the defense of denial is being used to cover up a person’s substance abuse) “you protect your self-esteem” by refusing to acknowledge the harmful behavior. But this doesn’t make any sense. What kind of self-esteem is that? It sounds awfully fragile. [Read more…]