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Hide and Seek Non fiction books have a certain notoriety for stating the obvious but dispelling that myth Dr Neel Burton's Hide Seek The Psychology of Self Deception provides information that is not only useful and enlightening but also formatted in a clear concise manner I received this book from Goodreads in a First Reads giveaway and can say that I am satisfied with it Explaining the various ways deception manifests itself in our behaviors this book offers a comprehensive list of actions that raises our awareness on this field of psychologyWhat I appreciate most in Burton's book is its organization Each topic is divided among several parts which in turn have their own collection of chapters While I initially believed this book would be a guide on how to resolve behaviors of self deception I began to realize there is no one way of handling them However Burton explains in great detail the traits of each idea providing examples to prove his point From these examples it is apparent he is well read which allows us not only to gain insight on the primary topic psychology but on various other subjects like literature religion philosophy etc As a whole this book is both interesting and educational and the language is easy to understand a characteristic I find vital in any non fiction workI really feel like I walked away from this book with some useful information even if I do not intend on going into the field of psychology For anyone interested in a uick enlightening read check out Neel Burton's Hide Seek I'm not sure how to characterize this It's the author's slightly clinical but very readable take on a lot of human emotions our opinions and the ego essentially It does not attempt or claim to provide solutions It's not self help But it may help bring new perspective for some about their ego I've been hyper self aware at times so there weren't any aha's for me But I bet it's opened a lot of reader's minds to some degree either for themselves or howwhy others behave This might be best for those that want to be challenged about their behavior or feelings or just want to potentially know themselves a little none of that is guaranteed of courseI really appreciate the copy for review Profound wise and very interestingWriting from a Freudian perspective with insights from evolutionary psychology Greek philosophy the Bhagavad Gita Buddhism and everyday life psychiatristphilosopher Neel Burton makes it clear that self deception is and has always been the norm in human behaviorDr Burton organizes ego defenses into four basic categories abstraction transformation or distortion evasion and projectionAbstraction includes denial repression anger intellectualization depression and some others Transformation recalls reaction formation a term I haven't heard in years minimization etc Evasion is about being vague or inauthentic or maybe regressing or daydreaming or telling jokes Projection is basically tagging others with your own failures or shortcomingsThis all may sound somewhat abstract but Burton's straightforward and uncluttered prose makes this book a surprisingly easy read Some of that is due to the vivid examples from history and literature that Burton provides to support his elaborate taxonomy I very much liked Burton's defense of depression especially in light of the overmedication we are getting from the psychiatric profession these days Burton writes The time and space and solitude that the adoption of the depressive position affords prevents us from making rash decisions allows us to see the bigger picture and to reassess our social relationships p 60 I would add that seasonal depression at least may well be adaptive in that staying put depressed persons typically don't want to do anything or go anywhere when the weather is not good may help to avoid danger and prolong life Burton's near celebration of the honesty and courage of people in the depressive position that ends the chapter may be a bit overdone for some people You might want read it for yourself on pages 62 and 63 For me this is an example of the intelligence and creativity that Burton brings to the subject of ego defensesBurton classifies some defense mechanisms as mature and others as immature or what we might call adaptive and productive verses unadaptive and destructive He contends that one of the purposes of daydreaming is to relax and recuperate; and perhaps even to find creative inspiration p 138 In writing about regression perhaps as a means of relating to children Burton explains how ego defenses can in general be positive If regression or indeed any other process that is used for ego defence is consciously employed whether for ego defence or any other purpose such as empathy enjoyment play humour inspiration creativity and even survival then it stops being our unthinking master and turns into our good and faithful servant p 143In the chapter on asceticism Burton reminds us of these words from Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita There has never been a time when you and I have not existed nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist p 164 On the next page Burton uotes Wittgenstein in what amounts to an interpretation of Krishna's words If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present This idea is further explored in my book Yoga Sacred and Profane Beyond Hatha YogaWhile Burton includes altruism as an ego defense he notes There can be no such thing as an `altruistic' act that does not involve some element of self interest no such thing for example as an altruistic act that does not lead to some degree no matter how small of pride or self satisfaction p 179I think Burton is correct in this and indeed in his overall assessment of the meaning and purpose of self deceptions Where I would differ slightly is by saying that ego defenses or self deceptions are in general either adaptive or maladaptive in the Darwinian sense and should be seen as attempts to maintain psychological homeostasis For on this see my book The World Is Not as We Think It IsOne of the things that makes this book much interesting than might be expected is the way Burton recalls apt historical examples or incidents in the news to illustrate his points Noting that the so called Stockholm Syndrome may partially underlie the ego defense reaction formation Burton recalls the famous Patty Heart case from the 1970s after pointing to the syndrome's christening by psychiatrist Nils Bejerot after a robbery and hostage situation at a Stockholm bank in 1973 See pages 85 87In Chapter 17 Burton sees inauthenticity basically what I would call faking it as a means to minimize or put off the existential anxiety associated with choice and responsibility p 115 In this context he recalls Freud and Erich Fromm who wrote The Fear of Freedom titled Escape from Freedom in the US and other works on our existential fear of real freedom Burton uotes Freud from Civilization and Its Discontents Most people do not really want freedom because freedom involves responsibility and most people are frightened of responsibilityPerhaps the most profound statement in the book is this from page 108 one could go so far as to argue that the self is nothing but the sum total of our ego defences and that it is therefore tantamount to one gigantic ego defence namely the ego itselfI want to close this rather long review with three uotes from the book that I think illustrate Burton's deep understanding of human psychologyIn talking about what is the right thing to do such as perhaps leaving your estate to some worthy cause Burton writes this goes to the very heart of ancient virtue which can be defined as the perfection of our nature through the triumph of reason over passion The truly altruistic act is the virtuous act and the virtuous act is always the rational act p 179In lamenting the relative absence of Plato and Aristotle in higher education today Burton writes the best education is not that which enables a person to make a living nor even that which enables him to make a social contribution but that which inspires and enables him on the path of freedom and individuation and which in the longer term leads to the fullest living and the greatest social contribution p183Finally there is this from Burton's Final Words it is not just that ego defences may or may not provide us with one or several advantages but also that they define our human nature and thereby frame the human experience p 218There is so much that I could say about this deeply wise and most stimulating book Perhaps the best thing I can do is to suggest that you get a copy and read it for yourself Dennis Littrell author of “The World Is Not as We Think It Is” I guess I was deceived by this bookI've heard about a few of the ego defenses in passing before so the overall concept was not new to me It was by no means advanced knowledge not even intermediate so I expected to deepen my understanding and gain new insights Unfortunately I came away empty handedThe book covered the general idea very briefly and then went on to enumerate and categorize various ego defenses illustrating each with examples from literature and history There was not much beyond that On the bright side this overview was well organized accessible and easy to readIn the end it felt like a reference you'd pull up when you need to check something rather than an insightful and coherent set of ideas helping you form new perspectives and mental models What we believe to be the motives of our conduct are usually but the pretexts for it – Miguel de UnamunoHow and why do we deceive ourselves How does this impact on us and those around us And what if anything can we do about it This book is a stand alone seuel and companion piece to 'The Art of Failure' which explores what it means to be successful and how if at all true success can be achieved I find this subject most interesting Learning about self is amazing Eye opening stuff A good short explanation of defensive mechanisms of the Ego that you are probably familiar with at least some concepts and adding a little scientific flair to it I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway This book is well organized and Dr Burton does an excellent job at explaining the ego defenses he explores by providing real life examples of each on It was nice to have him distinguish the differences between some of the ego defenses that are extremely similar to one another An interesting read Know Thyself said SocratesIf you know yourself you don't have to resort to self deception A person who is true to himself is not restricted in his thoughts and emotions therefore he develops his full potentialThe book is well written so it is easy to understandHighly recommended

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