Jeremy: “Mark, I love therapy. You should have therapy. He should have therapy. Everybody should have therapy…Mark, today is the day I worked out I am not currently a very successful musician.”
Mark: “I know, yes.”
Jeremy: “Yeah, I know you know. But now I know.”
If you watch Peep Show you know how funny this exchange is. Jeremy shouldn’t need a therapist to tell him he’s not a successful musician. In the seven seasons we have followed him, Jeremy has done little of substance, certainly nothing in the realm of music worth remark. What he has done is use the idea of a musical career to keep himself from seeing the truth of his situation.
Why is it so difficult for us to see certain aspects of our lives that are plain as day to everybody else? It’s not that we can’t see, it’s that we don’t want to see. Self-delusion is a protective mechanism, used to keep us from becoming consciously aware of hard truths that, if accepted, would undermine the sense of Self we have worked so hard to cultivate.
The case of Jeremy is one that mirrors the case of a lot of people out there. If you can believe you are successful without actually having to do anything to become successful, then you get to derive the same feelings of efficacy and self-worth without all the hard work. Just as important is that you don’t have to risk failure if you never try. The psychological function of self-delusion is to convince yourself that you already are what you so desperately want to be.
The obvious drawback is that you become a prisoner, kept from ever taking the necessary steps to attain in reality that which you believe you have already attained. Until you cast aside the protective mechanisms meant to help you ignore the difficult truths in your life you won’t be in a position to improve your life.