Roots of Denial

In a recent discussion on TV after Mamata’s triumph in the municipal elections, the Trinamool spokesman Deerk O’Brien kept on saying to several points the CPM spokesman raised that the communist were living in denial. We see denial every time when seemingly intelligent people refuse to see the truth. The latest scientific studies suggest that denial has its origins in power play and emotions.

1. Most denialists deny anything that they cannot see. Their vested interest survive because of this denial. For example, the society has denied global warming (as long as it did not see it directly),keeps denying evolution and earlier denied harmful effects of smoking. These denials serve to perpetuate the old mindsets preserving established interests.

2. Most denials are based on emotions and anecdotal evidence. So there is no rational study or assessment of evidence but the mere occurrence of event is touted as causality. Human beings also tend to react to emotions and thus it is fertile ground to deny the truth if it happens to elicit the right emotions. We also tend to feel safe in the stability of regular thinking.

3. Most denialists also suffer from ‘paranoid personality disorders’ with anger, intolerance and a sense of disproportionate self-importance. Their distorted sense of reality brooks no opposition.
However denials in the face of evidence extract terrible prices. Bengal is a classic example where the party doctrines have not changed and a once proud and prosperous state has gone into serious decline blighting the lives of millions. The denial of the hazards of smoking destroyed millions of lives again. It was first proved in 1951 that smoking can cause cancer and only in the 1990s, it became part of the mainstream thought.

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