A long while ago, a friend of mine raised her theory that people fell into two categories, justifiers and deniers. I think it was an excellent theory, so I’m going to explain it here. It all hinges around how you respond when you do something wrong and you’re caught out. What is your response?
I’m a justifier. I admit that I’ve done something wrong, but try to justify and explain why I’ve done it. So: “Yeah, I know I stole the cookies from the cookie jar, but I was really hungry, and they were just sitting there, and I thought it was at least two hours before dinner so it wouldn’t affect my appetite and…and…and…”
My adored sibling is a denier. A case in point: she booked a taxi the other day. A taxi arrived, but it wasn’t the one she specifically ordered. She thought “Stuff it, I need to go home” and got in the taxi. About 1/2 an hour later, the taxi company called and asked if she’d booked a taxi. “No!” she blurted (and then her brain wondered why on earth she said that – too late, too late!). “But you must have done,” said the woman, “I’ve got your number because you booked one.” “No,” my sister said. “Must be a mistake!” She tells me her conscious mind is saying one thing (“admit it’s your taxi”), but her unconscious has already responded and denied. She hung up the phone, felt guilty, and wondered what was going on in her mind. I think I may have an idea…
The problem with being a justifier is that you end up in conflict. If someone tells me to do something I don’t want to do, my instinctive response is to explain why I don’t want to do it. My sister was far more adept at getting around parental precepts; she’d just smile sweetly, nod and then go off and do whatever she wanted to do (clever, clever girl). Whereas I had a need to justify my actions, and as a result, I’d get into big arguments with parents, school and authority figures. My theory is that deniers don’t like conflict, and their instinctive reaction occurs as a result of their desire to prevent conflict. I don’t like conflict either, but I also hate the thought that someone might not understand my actions. Although, as the taxi example shows, sometimes you get into worse trouble by being a denier.
There may be a third category: the fantasiser. At a few points in my lovely legal career, I have acted for banks who are repossessing people’s houses. It’s a hard job, but someone’s gotta do it. As I’d tell mortgagors when they called up, the Bank don’t give you nothin’ for free (particularly not a house). Some of the responses were amazing. Like the woman who pretended she was three different people (none of them herself). She also pretended she was dying of brain cancer, that she had won the lottery and that her husband had run off and left her. It was quite extraordinary. None of the stories or identities were true (I had to get them all checked out).
So gentle reader, which category do you fit into? Justifier or denier?