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Dr John CookJune 2017 – The Great Delusions.

Quote “delusion implies an inability to distinguish between what is real and what only seems to be real…”


“the act of tricking or deceiving someone: the state of being deluded” Merriam-Webster dictionary

Time as usual moves on and we are now, in New Zealand, it is nearly winter. Daylight saving has stopped and evenings are drawing in. This change of seasons set me thinking. Everything we are taught and think we know, is a delusion. I call this the great delusions. There is a good (simplistic and funny) You Tube video that shows how hard it is to change what has been embedded in us. Follow this link. We cling to our belief systems like a comfort blanket, as often it is too hard and painful to change. Change demands attention, being in the now and needs to be worked at.

The children of the 60s released from the constraints of tradition after WW2 became our teachers and embedded their values and behaviours into the next generation of children. This has in turn given rise to the elite liberalism we see today. One might say the “unhealthy” side of humanism. If we take the stories that we are taught of the history and take human development as an example. Then looking at different delusions that we are exposed to, we notice that what we are taught is dependent on the coping mechanisms that were activated and the life conditions at the time of teaching.

There are three main ways of looking at human development.

1. The heroic view of the history paradigm – onward and upward – man’s (usually men) journey by force of reason from a primitive world of ignorance to our brighter world of increasing knowledge; made possible by the continuous development of human reason. The current output of education makes this view a common element of our self-image as humans of today.

2. A human consciousness view of history is as a problematic and tragic journey of the fall from oneness with the natural and the spiritual worlds. Producing a disconnect between humankind and nature; today’s planetary turmoil. A vast contrast to the heroic paradigm.

3. A third view is that there are no patterns in history and what patterns we see are human constructs. These constructs are changed by politics, culture, economic and biological psychological social systems. This allows for the illusions of history to be used as delusions for power and control.

Both views 1 and 2 are correct but do not separately give a view of the whole. Both are delusions imposed by a tradition of “the one correct way”; take your pick, the heroic path of history or the humanistic people/nature centric. The third view is post-modernism. Question everything, believe nothing. A downside of this view is nothing is ever stable and always in flux.

Many of these delusions have been propagated by the rise of a liberal elite. This liberal elite group once challenged the status quo. Now they have lost touch with the people and the causes they championed but still cling to the delusion that they are independent. Academia, for example, no longer has the freedom to pursue their own research. Research has been compromised by a commercial imperative. (Orange ER with a veneer of Green FS.) There are payment requirements (a pay wall) to gain access to research journals. They promote the delusion as ethical, openness and freedom – the message that the journals want us to believe. The “one correct” way to do research is by force of reason for which payment is required.

Governments, companies, communities all project an illusion that is to delude people into thinking their way. Sound bite politics and either-or-polarity – for-or-against. You could say I am being cynical. But a good article based on the book “The Talent Delusion” (2017. T. Chamorro-Premuzic) illustrates how psychology and human resource departments have deluded themselves into believing there is a war for talent, that we can all be Elton Musk’s or have continual happiness at work. These delusions are sustained by ‘gurus’ with little evidence-based results to support their claims.

In 2016 the world changed with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. In 2017 we have seen more of the same with elections in Europe and a swing to the far left or right. This oscillation and swings are a symptoms of dissonance and chaos before a major change. Either to more complex understanding of the world or regression to old ways of doing. The conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa have become part of a way of life causing misery, death and destruction. This why after 20 years I still see the usefulness of Professor Clare W. Graves framework as a map and compass; to help as a guide to the future. Not as a master code but as a useful tool to use in a complex world. Again, it would be a delusion to claim that it’s a master code. The scientific community have been looking forever and everywhere for a unifying theory of everything, but let’s face it, we are in a Chaordic universe – order and chaos together.

In my opinion, what is happening is that the pendulum of the humanistic movement has swung too far, producing an unhealthy set of life conditions. Where political correctness has suppressed the pride in one’s country’s cultures and belief systems. People have become overwhelmed. Sweden is an example of the collapse of the extremes of the humanistic system. The humanistic system has no defence against the combined individualistic and tribal systems. Sweden cannot cope as health and government systems have been overwhelmed by combined tribal and individualism. This is similar to what is happening in the UK and USA.

This will eventually happen in New Zealand as immigrations from countries based in Tribal, Individualism and Traditional cultures increase. Already here and in Australia immigrants in the fast food and restaurant trades where they exploit newer immigrants and overseas students of their own ethnicity. As I paraphrase what Dr Don Beck once said, “eventually the host country’s culture descends to the lowest common denominator and the host culture becomes diluted.” The reason the migrants came for a ‘better life’ disappears.

Today we are perhaps seeing the rise of Coral IV. This is a gentler ‘I’ ‘WE’ centred coping system. The individual shows their individualism as the oppression or frustration caused by the collective globalisation (‘WE’ Turquoise HU) coping mechanism is challenged. The clash of global tribes.

This a humanistic green delusion that all people are equal and the same. Each person is unique and needs to be treated as unique while recognising that each has different drivers. Therefore, we need to maximise their potential as individuals as well as part of a collective.

In NZ, there is a sophisticated process for refuges that helps and support their transition to the values and behaviours expected in NZ culture. None of this available to most immigrants as they come in under other visa categories. The delusion that needs exposing is that there is a gap between our cultural coping mechanism/life conditions and those of the immigrants’ countries of origin. An understanding of this is needed to ensure a healthy diversity.

Each person can activate or deactivate their coping mechanisms to survive and prosper in their life conditions. Unfortunately, this becomes a chicken and egg dilemma.

  •  At home, the life conditions may demand a Tribal and Individualistic response.
  •  At work, a Traditional and Success Driven response.
  •  In the community, a more humanistic People Driven response.

However, those from the less complex coping mechanisms (Humanistic Green FS downwards) often do not have the capacity to make changes. Often home, work and community use the same coping mechanisms that are nodal for the individual. This often leads to an arrested and perhaps closed psychological state. Therefore, the delusions that are accepted or rejected align with their coping mechanisms that have been activated.

I hope you find this is thought provoking and useful. It may give ideas on how you can use Prof Clare W Graves’ model of Biological, Psychological, Social Systems in explaining the world around you.

reference – Chamoiro-Preinuzic 2017, extracted from The Talent Delusion published by Piatkus

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