30 | CR Book X, Chapter 2

anxiety. We know that it is nothing we want, and yet we are as frightened
of the abyss of nothingness, as we are fascinated by it. (2) One believes
that one is one self, when one is a conglomeration of a great number of
"selves", private and public, which originate from complexes, identifica-
tions and impersonations, participation in the collective unconscious,
attitudes acquired in certain situations or formed in response to social
requirements. Our personality is like a kaleidoscope, where a jumble of
coloured fragments forms ever new patterns as we turn the mirrors.
(3) The self sees and treats itself as isolated when it is not. (4) The self
rejects and disowns many of its contents. It is apt to rationalise instincts,
failures, and convictions. It rejects and disowns, represses, pushes out of
sight, and hides from itself those of its experiences which are subjects to
a mental conflict. The greater part of the personality, and also its
essential depth, are covered up by the pretences of (respectable and
reasonable) rationalisations and camouflage (group mendacity). Ugly
facts, sordid, discreditable, unpleasant experiences which might wound
narcissistic self-love, dirty and disreputable impulses, objects which
shock and frighten, are not taken at their full weight, blotted out com-
pletely, minimised, passed over, exaggerated, or prettified. One easily
overemphasises the importance of ideal interests and unselfish motives,
and the influence of high principles on one's own conduct. Awkward
facts are disguised behind emotional curtains, like euphemisms, and, in
the case of social life and its tragic reality, they are effaced by ceremonial
pomp, stately buildings, high talk and ideals, romance, legends, hero
worship, and political pretences. All this vast tissue of lies, which makes
most things appear as different, and often as the very opposite of what
they are, is not due to ignorance, but to unwillingness to see oneself. At
the back of it there is the desire to protect the personality from ideas
which might threaten its integrity, and its precarious sense of security,
through magical contagion, and identification, which is often reinforced
by a sense of guilt. The result is a split between what we do, and what
we think we do, privately and collectively.

What is it that makes this kind of self-deception possible? Self-
deception and duplicity are rendered semi-unconscious and effortless by
a split in the personality. The hypocrite rarely knows that he is one. Few
people have enough insight or motive to look through themselves. The
self could not deceive itself about itself if it were, as it were, all of one
piece. Duality, and dual control, of the personality easily leads to
duplicity. This can be seen clearest of all, in hysteria, and in its rather
half hearted , playful and acted beliefs, or delusions which are backed
up only by a part of the self, moon about in a half-light somewhere
between believing and not believing, make a show of what is not there,
and suggest that the power of autosuggestion (of imaginary disabilities
and perfections) is almost unlimited.

Self-deception is vitally necessary, and its renunciation requires
great instinctual sacrifices. There is nothing that is not tainted by self-
deception, which is bound up with all our basic instincts. There is far less
driving power behind reason and honesty. Covered up with a comfortable
cloak of rationalisations, one appears to live up tolerably well to a pleasing
image of oneself. Our delusions obscure the real self, and throw up some
more or less pleasing image of ourselves. But why do we insist so much
on maintaining our self-respect, and the appearance of consistency?