From The SpiritWiki

Distortion is an Awareness Reduction Mechanisms] that the Bodily Ego uses to avoid uncomfortable confrontation with reality...

Other Awareness Reduction Mechanisms

Awareness Reduction Mechanisms > Avoidance, Denial, Displacement, Dissociation, Distortion, Distraction, Diversion, Gaslighting, Intellectualization, Internalization, Projection, Rationalization, Reaction Formation, Regression, Repression, Sublimation

Related LP Terms

Awareness Reduction Mechanisms > Bodily Ego, Cognitive Wall, Defence Mechanisms, Disjuncture, Externally Directed ARMs, Internally Directed Arms

Non-LP Related Terms

Awareness Reduction Mechanisms > Ego Threat, Unwanted Self


Distortion is the first tertiary ARM we will look at. Distortion involves the deceptive reshaping of reality. When we distort things, we make them appear like something they are not. Distortion is an extension of denial and rationalization, often with a dose of intellectualization thrown in for good measure. When we deny the truth, rationalize, and make excuses, we are attempting to distort our perception of reality.

A good example of intellectual distortion is the common cultural trope “What does not kill you makes you stronger.” This trope basically sends the message that abuse and trauma are good for you because they build strength and character, and make you a better person. People invoke this trope every time their attention is drawn to the abuse and trauma they endured, or that they inflicted upon others. How many people do you know tell you that the abuse they experienced at home “builds character” or made them who they are? How many parents have you heard say that assaulting (i.e. spanking, disciplining, etc.) their children strengthens them and prepares them for life in the real world?

When individuals invoke this trope, they are trying to distort reality, because the trope is simply not true. There is lots of evidence to indicate even minor psychological trauma can cause serious, lasting damage. Major events like sexual assault do horrific damage. But, if you believe the cultural trope “what does not kill you makes you stronger,” you can distort your perception of reality and repress your burgeoning awareness of trauma and disjuncture by pretending that the damage you see, or that you cause, builds character and strength. Distortion helps you “not worry about it” so you can go have a happy drink with your boys or a yummy glass of wine with the girls. It is easier to forget and pretend if you can convince yourself that what happened to you, or what you did to others, isn’t that bad after all.