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Positive Illusions: Creative Self-Deception and the Healthy Mind

Natalie Shainess, MD
JAMA. 1990;263(13):1849-1850. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440130147046.
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The very name of this book and its subtitle, "Creative Self-Deception," start a fountain of thoughts going in all directions. Is it useful to deny reality; is it helpful; and, in sickness, or in health? We all have areas of denial, and its import is whether they are vital areas, and whether we can live or function better by denying in seeking to cope with reality.

The book is full of generalizations. In some instances there are attempts to validate through citing research, but often the references are unclear and at times run counter to the thesis they are cited to prove. For example, an instance is given of a person seeing a lion on the savannah and thinking either "The lions are back, it must be spring" or "The lions are back—I must run or be killed." Thinking it is spring is a "positive illusion," but there is no


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