The Anatomy of Self-Delusion
People often act naive, as though intellectual dishonesty is rare. (An innocent act to portray themselves as never having dreamed of being intellectually dishonest themselves?) They get incredulous when you try to tell them that narcissists and psychopaths are insincere and just showing you whatever face draws from you the reaction they want. Similarly, people often snort at the idea that narcissists can delude themselves to such a bizarre degree as they do.
I have stumbled on a detailed, documented example of that very thing. (See below.)
By way of introduction, I want to say that we all experience the temptation to play this mentally dishonest game now and then, so we can tell exactly what is going on in this example. This self-deluded person goes through stunning mental gymnastics to make-believe known lies. It is therefore a valuable look into the mind of someone deluding himself.
He begins knowing the truth. In a matter of hours, he ends suggesting that "we just stick to that line" and say nothing more, because "we can make this thought the truth" just by repeating it one billion times to shout down the facts.
This is exactly what narcissists do, and it shouldn't be so hard to believe, because people who don't have NPD do it too.
And we all know that, don't we? If we are honest with ourselves, we know that.
In this closed group (of like-minded people in this forum), our self-deluder fearlessly thinks with lies. But would he have done this if he had known that hundreds of thousands of people all over the Web would now be reading what he said? (Hugely popular blogs have linked to it.)
Surely not! This is what I mean when I say that people playact on a stage, as though they ARE the charcater they portray and as though the fiction is real ... till the house lights come up and they see an audience of outsiders looking on. An audience of outsiders who have nothing to gain from deluding themselves.
Then suddenly your little actors look like people who just discovered they are naked.
Shakespeare showed this very well in Hamlet. At the end when Fortinbras and his troops arrive, the playactors suddenly check back into their senses and stop calling Hamlet the traitor. We saw the same thing when American forces came upon the Death Camps in WWII. Suddenly the people living around them dropped the "I-see-nothing, I-hear-nothing, I-know-nothing" act. Simply because the stench alone prevented any honest person from buying it, and innocent outsiders will naturally be honest.
This is why the bystandares are so impossible. So long as they are in agreement with the majority, to hell with the truth. Only outsiders arriving to see what they are doing can shame them back into reality.
IMPORTANT: The cause this man is deluding himself about is beside the point here. (I don't associate myself with the one political comment at the top.) It could be anything. In other words, instead of being a follower of Ron Paul, this self-deluder could just as well be deluding himself about any other idol (false image) - either another candidate, or a religion/cult, or a political party (often "believed in" like a religion or cult), or any cause celebre, or any old Hollywood movie star, or the neighborhood narcissist.
Once people are invested in ANY belief, their pride usually kills their honesty, and they become obdurately resistant to knowing an unwanted truth about it.
Why? I suppose because then they would have admit they were wrong before. And they'd rather die and go to hell than do that. So they just falsify reality instead.
This phenomenon isn't rare. For example, tune-in to C-SPAN's Washington Journal program, and almost every day you will hear a caller who has warped his or her perceptions to the point that they claim that our press is "right wing." Even accusing C-SPAN of extremist conservative bias. Yes, pinch yourself, but that's what they say on whatever planet these folks are living on.
So, self-delusion is common. People should quit acting naive about it. Anyone who has lived with a malignant narcissist knows that they live 100% of the time in fantasy of their creation. And they delude themselves the same way the guy in this example does.
So, for example, if any awareness of a narcissist's neediness should surface to consciousness on him or her, they immediately delude themselves into believing that their victim is the needy one. This is exactly how narcissists become Projection Machines: whatever they are in the very act of doing to you they also are accusing you of doing to them.
All it takes is mental gymnastics.
This is a great example of such mental gymnastics in a series of posts in a forum:
of "How the Human Mind Adapts to Believing in Lies".
The posts are screen shots of those posts so that just deleting the original posts won't destroy the evidence. Because there are many screen shots of posts, the page takes a long time to load over a dial-up connection, so be patient. I think it is worth the wait to see the mental contortions this guy goes through to twist things and warp reality.
Note for foreign readers: The candidate referred to, Ron Paul, is a second-tier candidate seeking the Republican Party's nomination for president. He has very little in common with other Republican candidates, being what we often call a "libertarian" and an isolationist vehemently against the war. Polls show his support as less than 10%. The newsletters referred to have recently come to light and contain many things contrary to the image Paul projects. But I repeat, Ron Paul is beside the point here. The point is this step-by-step process people go through to delude themselves - not just about this issue, but about anything.
narcissistic personality disorder narcissism