RUSH: I meant to talk about this yesterday, didn’t get to it. It’s this story about denial that was in the New York Times: ‘Denial Makes the World Go Round.’ This has political applications. This is why I’m going to spend a little time on it here. ‘For years she hid the credit card bills from her husband: The $2,500 embroidered coat from Neiman Marcus. The $900 beaded scarf from Blake in Chicago. A $600 pair of Dries van Noten boots. All beautiful items, and all perfectly affordable if she had been a hedge fund manager or a Google executive. Friends at first dropped hints to go easy or rechannel her creative instincts. Her mother grew concerned enough to ask pointed questions. But sales clerks kept calling with early tips on the coming season’s fashions, and the seasons kept changing. ‘It got so bad I would sit up suddenly at night and wonder if I was going to slip up and this whole thing would explode,’ said the secretive shopper, Katharine Farrington, 46, a freelance film writer living in Washington, who is now free of debt. ‘I don’t know how I could have been in denial about it for so long. I guess I was optimistic I could pay, and that I wasn’t hurting anyone. Well, of course that wasn’t true.’
‘Everyone is in denial about something; just try denying it and watch friends make a list. For Freud, denial was a defense against external realities that threaten the ego, and many psychologists today would argue that it can be a protective defense in the face of unbearable news, like a cancer diagnosis. In the modern vernacular, to say someone is ‘in denial’ is to deliver a savage combination punch: one shot to the belly for the cheating or drinking or bad behavior, and another slap to the head for the cowardly self-deception of pretending it’s not a problem. Yet recent studies from fields as diverse as psychology and anthropology suggest that the ability to look the other way, while potentially destructive, is also critically important to forming and nourishing close relationships. The psychological tricks that people use to ignore a festering problem in their own households are the same ones that they need to live with everyday human dishonesty and betrayal, their own and others’. And it is these highly evolved abilities, research suggests, that provide the foundation for that most disarming of all human invitations, forgiveness.
‘In this emerging view, social scientists see denial on a broader spectrum — from benign inattention to passive acknowledgment to full-blown, willful blindness — on the part of couples, social groups and organizations, as well as individuals. Seeing denial in this way, some scientists argue, helps clarify when it is wise to manage a difficult person or personal situation, and when it threatens to become a kind of infectious silent trance that can make hypocrites of otherwise forthright people. ‘The closer you look, the more clearly you see that denial is part of the uneasy bargain we strike to be social creatures,’ said Michael McCullough, a psychologist at the University of Miami and the author of the coming book Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct. ‘We really do want to be moral people, but the fact is that we cut corners to get individual advantage, and we rely on the room that denial gives us to get by, to wiggle out of speeding tickets, and to forgive others for doing the same.’
‘The capacity for denial appears to have evolved in part to offset early humans’ hypersensitivity to violations of trust. In small kin groups, identifying liars and two-faced cheats was a matter of survival. A few bad rumors could mean a loss of status or even expulsion from the group, a death sentence. In a series of recent studies, a team of researchers led by Peter H. Kim of the University of Southern California and Donald L. Ferrin of the University of Buffalo, now at Singapore Management University, had groups of business students rate the trustworthiness of a job applicant after learning that the person had committed an infraction at a previous job. Participants watched a film of a job interview in which the applicant was confronted with the problem and either denied or apologized for it. If the infraction was described as a mistake and the applicant apologized, viewers gave him the benefit of the doubt and said they would trust him with job responsibilities. But if the infraction was described as fraud and the person apologized, viewers’ trust evaporated — and even having evidence that he had been cleared of misconduct did not entirely restore that trust.’
This story goes on and on. ‘Nowhere do people use denial skills to greater effect than with a spouse or partner. In a series of studies, Sandra Murray of the University of Buffalo and John Holmes of the University of Waterloo in Ontario have shown that people often idealize their partners, overestimating their strengths and playing down their flaws.’ Really? If that’s the case, how come we still have such a high divorce rate? ‘This typically involves a blend of denial and touch-up work … But the studies have found that partners who idealize each other in this way are more likely to stay together and to report being satisfied in the relationship than those who do not.’ Now, what does all this add up to? This is kind of like in the nineties, when Clinton was out there lying through his teeth each and every day, we’d get stories about how white lies are good; they save relationships; they spare feelings. Now we’re getting the same thing here presented in the psychological context about denial, that if your husband or wife is cheating on you and you know it, it’s just easier to try to ignore it, just deny it because you’ll keep the relationship together, and if you mention it, it could cause friction.
Now, is there a couple out there that might benefit from this kind of news in the New York Times? I ask you that question pointedly. I really actually think that this whole theory helps to explain the liberals, the Drive-Bys and the Democrats in general, because they are in denial. They do tell themselves stories, because they have no compass, they have no set belief system, no guardrail, no moral code, at least. Now, remember, liberalism is an ideology which replaces religion because they don’t like the strict codes of conduct and behavior, morality and so forth, that religion teaches. You know this as well as I do. They don’t want to be judged on the basis of their behavior. So liberalism exempts them from any standards. And as such, they are living in denial about who they are and what they think and what they say. They have no foundation to help them know right from wrong. They don’t care about right and wrong. So they hire people like George Lakoff, rhymes with, to redefine their sins so they can handle living with them.
I think this explains totally the unmitigated love fest that Drive-Bys and liberals and Democrats have for the Clintons. They lie through their teeth, everybody knows that they are a programmed pair seeking total power, that they are disingenuous, and yet they’re loved. There has to be a sense of denial about who they are, and this denial is now all of a sudden being said to be healthy, ladies and gentlemen. It’s healthy to ignore deficiencies, cheating, lying. It’s healthy to be in denial, up to a point, of course. We idealize our spouses and our partners and, of course, we idealize the Clintons. When you idealize your partner or your spouse, why, it makes denial all that much easier because when you idealize your partner, they’re incapable of doing anything wrong. Why else would you idealize them? If they do something blatantly wrong right in your face, you deny it, because you’ve idealized them, and they don’t really mean to do what they did. And you love ’em. So another excuse has been now written in the liberal Bible, the New York Times, for excusing destructive behavior.