Denial and the understanding of behavior

Dr. Sanity has been posting quite a bit about narcissism and denial from a psychological point of view. Strategies for Dealing with Denial- Part II : Logical Fallacies and Rhetorical Ploys Used in Denial provides an interesting taxonomy with examples.

But the Powerline folks have also highlighted other examples from the current press. My Two Cents Worth contains observations about the discussion of David Horowitz of David’s new book, The Professors. This appears to be about the Perfectionist fallacy. Then there is Tomorrow never knows that pulls out a Causal fallacy highlighted by Mark Steyn. Why Taliban Man at Yale? highlights letters that expose a smokescreen and an appeal to feelings. Unhinged and proud of it cites a Washington Post that illustrates a number of substantive fallacies.

Finkel also appears to credit the left’s excuse for its lunacy –“powerlessness.” But, again, there’s no evidence of this level of hysteria by conservatives during the long periods when they were out of power. … Indeed, if the Daily Kos “screw em” crowd ever achieves what it considers the appropriate level of power, these folks are more likely to begin trying to impose on the objects of their hatred the psychotic fantasies they blog about (“I just want to see these [expletive] swinging from their heels in the public square”) than to behave with civility.

Dr. Sanity’s taxonomy is something that can be objectively applied but denial is not an rational behavior. By its nature it rejects objective measures in order to support its dellusion. This is why productive discussion, whether argument or debate, is rather fruitless when denial and narcissistic behaviors become paramount. The only thing you can do is what Rush Limbaugh recommends (unless you are a shrink hired by the person to engage in therapy!) which is to let them expose their behaviors and then highlight and contrast the behaviors with more sane and rational behaviors. You are not going to change those who will not engage in intellectual integrity but you can help those who are a part of the group to see what it is and to learn and to better keep themselves on a sane and rational course of behavior in order to make good decisions.

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