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Self-deception and changing roles

Vol. 7, No. 9 / September 2008

Another way of thinking about self-deception as noted by Dr. Henry Nasrallah in his editorial “Self-deception: A double-edged trait,” (From the Editor, Current Psychiatry, July 2008) relates to the psychology of personal constructs. Dr. George Kelly, a psychologist at Ohio State University, stated that each of us has several selves—child to our parents, parent to our children, mate, friend, citizen, professional, etc.—and it is important to keep it all straight and be the appropriate self in various settings. In Behavior in Public Places, sociologist Dr. Erving Goffman noted that nobody changes behavior more rapidly than a waiter—out in the dining room obsequiously fawning over the diner, and then in a few steps through the doors in the kitchen fighting for his food. Goffman asks, which is the real waiter?

It makes sense that there is not one self to deceive but many, and to be a highly functional person one must keep the cast of characters straight.

David C. Tinling, MD
Kingsboro Psychiatric Center
Brooklyn, NY

To comment on articles in this issue or other topics, send letters in care of Erica Vonderheid, Current Psychiatry, 110 Summit Avenue, Montvale, NJ 07645, or click here.

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