Neel Burton does well to begin his latest book, Hide & Seek, with a chapter on Denial.
Readers who have not thought about the subject matter before will experience a strong sense of disbelief and irritation at the extent to which he suggests that they are living their lives in a confused and muddled state. Appropriately, Burton roots the discussion of denial in techniques to rise above it, and focuses on motivational interviewing.
Motivational Interviewing is not entirely dissimilar to the age-old method of Socratic Questioning; it enables the questioner to frame a discussion in way that encourages the development of insight and active thought in the other party. It requires the questioner to retain an overarching perspective on the subject in order to constructively, if discreetly, guide the flow of the discussion.
In a very real sense, the totality of Hide & Seek can be conceived as an exercise in the Socratic Questioning of its readers. Ostensibly, it is a whistle-stop tour of the various ego defence mechanisms with which human beings protect themselves from pain. In this, it is an effective summary, especially to readers who lack prior knowledge of psychological or psychotherapeutic principles. One can see it being used as a handy reference guide by students or junior trainees in those subjects due to its relative readability compared to the standard heftier texts. But its greater value is in helping a reader to question how they are living their own life instead.
I am a firm believer in the importance of personal insight. It inculcates a sense of personal responsibility and encourages the development of a clear inner spiritual self, which in turn acts as a foundation for confidence and tolerance. If nothing else, insight lends perspective and amusement, which can only help to increase net happiness. I think I know Neel well enough to say that his own personal perspective on life peeks out of every hidden nook and cranny of Hide & Seek.