Self-Deception is the Biggest Block to Recovery

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

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According to Dr. Courtney Warren, clinical psychologist, when we deceive ourselves and others, we aren’t taking full responsibility for who we are. This can be very damaging because we are perpetuating the very aspects of ourselves that are hurting us the most instead of acting to change them. A recent study called Self-deception as a mechanism for the maintenance of drug addiction found that individuals with substance dependence exhibited higher levels of self-deception, especially through active denial, selective amnesia, projection, and confabulation. These are several ways that people deceive themselves and others, as explained by the researchers mentioned above:

  • Active denial: Blatantly stating and believing that one does not suffer from an addiction or the addiction does not cause problems to one’s life
  • Selective amnesia: Making recurring mistakes due to selective memory
  • Projection: Attributing defects of oneself that one does not recognize within themselves to someone else; this is a form of wishful thinking that helps someone stay in their own “reality” for their own convenience
  • Confabulation: A disturbance of the memory; fabricating elements of a memory about oneself to deceive others

Cognitive dissonance theory, coined by Leon Festinger, poses that psychological discomfort happens when we have thoughts and behaviors that are conflicting in nature. In psychology and addiction discussions, this theory suggests that if individuals act in ways that contradict their beliefs, they may change their beliefs and thoughts to align with their actions. In this instance, a person who is making choices towards addiction may change their thought patterns to believe that there is nothing wrong with their decision – helping them to ease the unsettling feeling of their currently reality.

When we attempt to deceive ourselves and/or others, we are ignoring the reality of the situation and are holding ourselves back from overcoming our obstacles. The study on self-deception mentions that recognizing our reality can sometimes make us uncomfortable, and most of us do not want to feel that way. Although it may be unsettling to admit to our decisions that have negatively affected ours and others’ lives, there comes a sense of respect and responsibility for taking control over the situation and actively taking a stand against it. Treatment is available for drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and mental illness – the choice is ours to make. By choosing to admit to ourselves and our loved ones that we need help, we are taking back control over our lives and can make more informed decisions that lead us towards a happier, healthier life.


When you’re making a decision to change your life, you need a program you can trust. Avalon Malibu provides trusted results. Offering both primary mental health and substance use treatment, our full continuum of care seeks to heal mind, body, and spirit. For a confidential assessment and more information, call us today: 888-958-7511

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