Nicholas's Reviews > Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) by Carol Tavris
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's review
Jan 03, 09

really liked it
bookshelves: psychology
Read in January, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Book on self deception. Primer on cogdis


"How in the world can they live with themselves? The answer is: exactly the way the rest of us do."

"Cognitive dissonance is a state of tension that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions that are psychologically inconsistent."

"If a person voluntarily goes through a difficult or a painful experience in order to attain some goal or object, that goal or object becomes more attractive."

"He came to us with his elaborate call girl/kidnapping/mugging/sabotage/wiretapping scheme, and we all began to tone it down, always with a feeling that we should leave Liddy a little something."

"Every self-deception was multiplied as in a hall of distorting mirrors, becoming a repeatedly confirmed picture of a fantastical dream world which no longer bore any relationship to the grim outside world. In those mirrors I could see nothing but my own face reproduced many times over."

"Self-justification is blocking each partner from asking: Could I be wrong? Could I be making a mistake? Could I change?"

"Being criticized for who you are rather than for what you did evokes a deep sense of shame and helplessness; it makes a person want to hide, disappear."

"We don't [let go of self-justification] because, as we have seen, most of the time we aren't even aware that we need to. Self-justification purrs along automatically, just beneath consciousness, protecting us from the dissonant realization that we did anything wrong."

"Because most of us are not self-correcting and because our blind spots keep us from knowing that we need to be, external procedures must be in place to correct the errors hat human beings will inevitably make and to reduce the chances of future ones."

"A lecture just makes the victim feel more defensive."

"People can learn to see mistakes not as terrible personal failings to be denied or justified, but as inevitable aspects of life that help us grow, and grow up."

"Memoirs are our modern fairy tales, the harrowing fables of the Brothers Grimm reimagined from the perspective of the plucky child who has, against all odds, evaded the fate of being chopped up, cooked and served to the family for dinner."

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