I am blessed with some friends who do the unusual. One of them is Ashwani. He was reading Dan Brown’s Inferno and came across a number of instances of “Denial”. He pieced together a collage from that book and other sources, into a fascinating and coherent narration and sent it to me. Here it is.

“A subject that fascinates me – Denial.

The human mind has a primitive ego defense mechanism that negates all realities that produce too much stress for the brain to handle. It’s called denial.

People have heard of denial but don’t think it exists. But it’s very real. Denial is a critical part of the human coping mechanism. Without it, we would all wake up terrified every morning about all the ways we could die. Instead, our minds block out our existential fears by focusing on stresses we can handle – like getting to work on time or paying our taxes. If we have wider, existential fears, we jettison them very quickly, refocusing on simple tasks and daily trivialities.

A recent web tracking study of students at some Ivy League universities revealed that even highly intellectual users displayed an instinctual tendency towards denial. According to the study, the vast majority of university students, after clicking on a depressing news article about arctic ice melt or species extinction, would quickly exit that page in favour of something trivial that purged their minds of fear; favourite choices included sports highlights and celebrity gossip.

That’s why sometimes a situation/action that seems impossible is not impossible, just unthinkable.”

Thank you Ashwani.

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