We are all in denial – some of the time at least.
Part of being human and living in a society with other humans is finding clever ways to express – and conceal – our feelings.
From the most sophisticated diplomatic language to the baldest lie – humans find ways to deceive.
Deceptions are not necessarily malign – at some level they are vital if humans are to live together with civility.
As Richard Sennett has argued: ‘In practising social civility you keep silent about things you know clearly but which you should not and do not say’.
Just as we can suppress some aspects of ourselves in our self-presentation to others so we can do the same to ourselves in acknowledging or not acknowledging what we desire.
Most of the time we spare ourselves from the torture of recognising our baser yearnings.
But when does this necessary private self-deception become harmful?
When it becomes public dogma.
In other words: when it becomes denialism.
Denialism is an expansion – an intensification of denial.
At root denial and denialism are simply a subset of the many ways humans have developed to use language to deceive others and themselves.
Denial can be as simple as refusing to accept that someone else is speaking truthfully.
Denial can be as unfathomable as the multiple ways we avoid acknowledging our weaknesses and secret desires.