We begin life with the world presenting itself to us as it is. Someone - our parents, teachers, analysts - hypnotizes us to see the world and construe it in the right way. These others label the world, attach names and give voices to the beings and events in it, so that thereafter, we cannot read the world in any other language or hear it saying other things to us. The task is to break the hypnotic spell, so that we become undeaf, unblind and multilingual, thereby letting the world speak to us in new voices and write all its possible meanings in the new book of our existence. Be careful in your choice of hypnotists.
Paradoxically, we fail to disclose ourselves to other people because we want so much to be loved. Because we feel that way we present ourselves as someone we think can be loved and accepted, and we conceal whatever would mar that image. Another reason we hide is to protect ourselves from change. . . Still another reason we don't disclose ourselves is that we were never taught how. . . Personal ambitions and economic pressures also give us powerful reasons for concealing what we really are. . . All of us hide behind the iron curtain of our public selves. . . Men hide what prevents them from seeming strong and masculine. . . Disclosure is so important (because) without it we really cannot know ourselves. Or to put it another way, we learn to deceive ourselves while we are trying to deceive others. For example, if I never express my sorrow, my love, my joy, I'll smother those feelings in myself until I almost forget they were once part of me.
If we want to be loved, we must disclose ourselves. If we want to love someone, he must permit us to know him. This would seem to be obvious. Yet most of us spend a great part of our lives thinking up ways to avoid becoming known. Indeed, much of human life is best described as impersonation. We are role players, every one of us. We say that we feel things we do not feel. We say things we did not do. We say that we believe things we do not believe. We pretend that we are loving when we are full of hostility. We pretend that we are calm and indifferent when we are actually trembling with anxiety and fear. Of course we cannot tell even the people we know and love everything we think or feel. But our mistakes are nearly always in the other direction. Even in families -- good families -- people wear masks a great deal of the time.
You cannot collaborate with another person toward some common end unless you know him. How can you know him, and he you, unless you have engaged in enough mutual disclosure of self to be able anticipate how he will react and what part he will play?