Adelle'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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Nov 19, 2009

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bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in November, 2009

The authors' political biases came through as they used the beginning and the ending of the book to castigate then (2007) President George W. Bush, and to call Newt Gingrich a “hypocrite” for criticizing (now former) President Bill Clinton’s sexual affair…WITHOUT any allusion to Clinton’s defensive “I did not have sex with that woman…Miss Lewinski” statement.

But most of the center sections of the book--which thankfully were relatively free of politics--- I found endlessly fascinating. Oh, how tenaciously we cling to “our version” of the story, filtering the facts so that what WE did/or didn’t do is seen to be of negligible consequence or perhaps even honorable, and what THE OTHER GUY did/or didn’t do is seen to be righteously reprehensible, obviously beyond the pale.

I loved, too, the authors’ many demonstrations that the act that alienates one party or the other is not a stand-alone event. To reference Aesop, it is much more likely to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Hurts and grievances in both parties have probably been building for some time.

“Who were the victims? It depends on how many years, decades, and centuries you take into account” (206). Consider Kosovo. Consider the Crusades. As the authors describe these tragic events, IF one is not emotionally involved with one side or the other, one can see BOTH points of view.

Likewise in personal relationships. “Of all the stories that people construct to justify their lives, loves, and losses, the ones they weave to account for being the instigator or the recipient of injustice or harm are the most compelling and have the most far-reaching consequences” (191).

Tavris and Aronson continue, “We have all done something that made others angry at us, and we have all been spurred to anger by what others have done to us. We all have, intentionally or unintentionally, hurt another person who will forever regard us as the villain, the betrayer, the scoundrel. And we have all … [been:] on the receiving end” (191).

It would seem it is seldom the absolute fault of “the other guy.” But…that would mean…and humans on the whole have SUCH a vested interest in protecting their own self-image.

A interesting, engaging read.
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11/17/2009 page 78
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Baal Of Actually they did allude to Bill Clinton's lies - on page 4: "But there is a big difference between what a guilty man says to the public to convince them of something he knows is untrue ('I did not have sex with that woman', ..."

Adelle You, Baal Of, read between the lines better than I do. I have a tendency to skim too much. Odd. Now that I think back on the book I remember as enjoying it more than I did at the time. Must be those rose colored glasses.

Great title, did n't you think? I'm rather a sucker for good titles.

message 3: by Beverley (new)

Beverley Talk about seeing what you want to see? LOL!! Yep - Billie Boy's comments were right up there with Bush. Although I'll take lying about sex over lying to lead the country into a war any day.

message 4: by Beverley (new)

Beverley I can't stop laughing - Adelle is a prime example of exactly what this book is about!!

Adelle Beverley wrote: "I can't stop laughing - Adelle is a prime example of exactly what this book is about!!"

Lol, right? Right!

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