We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
There is a common and normal human capacity to both know and not know something at the same time. Maybe it's politics or maybe some recent patients that got me thinking about the avoidance of reality - a maneuver which falls far short of the defence we call "denial" (which itself can also be entirely healthy at times, but often not).
I notice this in myself. For example, I noticed that I have not opened my last 2 quarterly 401-k statements. I know it's ugly inside those envelopes, but I see that I have avoided facing the facts squarely. It's avoiding the sharp pain, while tolerating the dull, nagging pain in the back of my mind. Besides the sharp pain, it's also avoiding whatever difficult or impossible decisions might or should be made.
I consider it to be a character flaw in myself - a weakness - but not a fatal one. Many of us dodge facing painful, pride-injuring, disappointing, or bias-challenging truths about ourselves or about reality and how reality works. I am in good company, but I do not approve of it.
I am not referring to an unconscious defense mechanism like repression: I am referring to a conscious and deliberate maneuver, like the suspicious wife who refuses to check to see if her husband is really at another very late business dinner. A reality-ducking means of coping.
We do not have a good term for this sort of thing in Psychiatry, although "suppression" comes close.
There is a spectrum from psychotic denial and distortion (anorectics believing they look fat), to ordinary denial (I don't have a drinking problem, or I am not doing anything wrong), to repression (my brain won't permit me to think this unpleasant thought), to seeing but not believing (It just can't be!), to the sort of avoidance I am talking about (I know what is there, but refuse to look or listen because it will upset me), to the gold standard of bravely facing and dealing with facts, problems, and the limits of reality. As I say daily, Reality is the best but harshest teacher of all.
I laughed because she's talking about 'reality', etc., and look at the comments. .... She's probably thinking 'My patients are sane.... sheesh.'
By the way, I have my portfolio online: Two clicks and I can see everything. I haven't clicked to see since the crash for exactly the reason you state. The monthly papers get tossed into my office closet, unopened.
Perhaps it is wise to avoid things about which you can do nothing. If your 401(k) has now shrunk to a 101(k), what can you do about it? If you cannot alter the situation, it matters not whether you look or don't look. John Bogel, founder of Vanguard, claimed he scarcely ever looked at his portfolio, except when he needed to rebalance his investments. For the rest of us, is there anything we can do to magically make all our investments worth what they were on January 1, 2008? There's no profit in kicking yourself for having been caught unawares with your wallet wide open. Just try not to let it happen the next time the market is headed toward a crash#@!
Interesting post. Some years ago, I was in a situation where I strongly suspected something bad (but not urgent or dangerous), and I didn't face it for some time. Ultimately I had to. Afterwards I came to believe that maybe I did this because once I faced the thing, I had to do something, and I wasn't ready. The time in between was a buffer period to brace myself subconciously. You don't usually get that luxury; I'll take it when I can get it.