OUTGROWING SELF-DECEPTION by Gardner & Morton Leeds Murphy


Email this review


Toward the end Murphy quotes a Yale English teacher on prose style to the effect that ""if you're Niagara Falls you'll come crashing down and nothing can stop you, but if you're a garden hose you'd better straighten out the kinks."" But in terms of content Outgrowing Self-Deception is a garden hose (and a rusty one at that) and Murphy's style abounds not only in kinks but in convolutions. He spends the entire first half of this wordy book citing various studies and experiments and employing an ecumenical range of technical phrases in support of the unoriginal thesis that perception is influenced by our instincts for self-protection and that cultural conditioning, bias and personal goals all conspire to blind us to the ""too muchness"" of reality. Murphy promises to correct this through feedback training, using modern instruments to study the relationship of muscle set and brain behavior to decision processes, but instead of providing or even describing any of that training here he goes on to list 23 possible ways of coping with self-deception--from evidence testing and logic to Zen, Yoga and psychodrama. Asserting that ""generalized freedom from bias"" can be taught, and allowing that the study of one's own self-concept requires help, what he gives us in the end is a clutch of superficial profiles of prominent truth-seekers such as Tolstoy, Socrates, Copernicus and Einstein. Whether all of this is intended for patient, student or general reader is no clearer than Murphy's prose. For anyone, it's heavy without the reward of any weighty ideas.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1975
Publisher: Basic Books