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The Truth Heals

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“How do we tell the truth and make that truth bearable,” a quote from an interview with author Kate DiCamillo discussing “Charlotte’s Web” by E. B. White. She went on to say, “E.B. White loved the world. And in loving the world, he told the truth about it – its sorrow, its heartbreak, its devastating beauty. He trusted his readers enough to tell them the truth, and with that truth came comfort and a feeling that we were not alone.”

In today’s divisive social and political environment with brother against brother and sister against sister, with politicians writing bills banning the teaching of this country’s history of economic, social, political, cultural, and racial exclusion, and school librarians being ordered to pull books on Indigenous and minority peoples’ fight for freedom, do our truths no longer matter? Is there a fear of lessons learned?

Conspiracy theories, the omission of facts, and the battle against news media have left more than 60% of Americans declining in trust in the government, and in each other. So many of the conversations which once brought us together are today bathed in fallaciousness: “A fallacy that occurs when instead of addressing someone’s argument or position, you attack the person or some aspect of the person who is making the argument.” Using psychotherapy, the counselors and therapists of Improving Lives Counseling Services treat conspiracists and clients challenged by a culture of disbelief.

THE ANTITHESIS OF TRUTH

The antithesis of truth is defined as receiving inaccurate, erroneous, or fallacious information. Overloading the brain with “untruths” can cause a cognitive overload – defined as receiving more information than the brain can easily handle. The brain does not initially sort truth from lies. When a lie is initially heard, the brain accepts it as true – experience, knowledge, education, and judgment held within the working memory then triggers the process of sorting fact from fiction.

Cognitive Overload happens “when the working memory receives more information than it can manage, leading to frustration and comprised decision-making.” This overload causes the brain to stop working. We see this in people who say, “I don’t know what to think; I just give up,” or “This is just too much, let’s change the subject,” or “I don’t want to hear your opinion or so-called facts; I’ve heard it all.” A recent survey reported that 62% of Americans say they have views they are afraid to share with family, co-workers, or friends.

Today, with 24/7 news and social media, there are people who consume 2,000 to 3,000 posts a day. Many in the psychiatric community believe the divorced, widowed, isolated, physically disabled, and/or mentally challenged are lonely and want someone to talk to or seek like-minded people who can boost their self-esteem. Others say it’s a coping mechanism, a way to clear their heads – to escape life’s challenges, responsibilities, and obligations. A recent Pew Research Center report found: “Overall 85% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis. That figure includes 31% who report going online constantly – as well as 48% who go online several times a day.” Researchers at the University of California found Americans consume 34 gigabytes of data and information (true and false) each day. This overload of information can lead to stress, anxiety, and an inability to make decisions.

WHY TRUTH MATTERS

Truth promotes diversity and inclusion. Accepting those things which are factual and true helps us grow as a people and as a nation. When people bend the truth, present alternative facts, and spread conspiracy theories, mental health and mental well-being are negatively affected. Blindly accepting truth outside of your mental model can be challenging, however, darkening the truth by believing in wishes, excessive desires, dreams, and wants can cause thinking to become distorted.

WE CAN HELP

Choosing to believe or accept “untruths” and altered facts affects you mentally and physically. Improving Lives Counseling Services strives to meet the needs of each client. Improving Lives Counseling Services treats children, adolescents, teens, adults, and seniors in online and in-person, individual, couples, family, and group sessions. We accept insurance, SoonerCare, and Improving Lives Inc., a non-profit, that provides financial support to clients seeking mental health care. You are not alone. Let us help. Call (918)960-7852 to learn more.