Relation of Dishonesty to Pride
In The Nature and Destiny of Man (vol. 1, pg. 203), Reinhold Niebuhr provides a Christian account of what psychologists call ego defense mechanisms:
"Our analysis of man's sin of pride and self-love has consistently assumed that an element of deceit is involved in this self-glorification. This dishonesty must be regarded as a concomitant, and not as the basis, of self-love. Man loves himself inordinately. Since his determinate existence does not deserve the devotion lavished upon it, it is obviously necessary to practice some deception in order to justify such excessive devotion. While such deception is constantly directed against competing wills, seeking to secure their acceptance and validation of the self's too generous opinion of itself, its primary purpose is to deceive, not others, but the self. The self must at any rate deceive itself first. Its deception of others is partly an effort to convince itself against itself. The fact that this necessity exists is an important indication of the vestige of truth which abides with the self in all its confusion and which it must placate before it can act. The dishonesty of man is thus an interesting refutation of the doctrine of man's total depravity."
Human Defensiveness: The Third Way | Google cache
The data of human defensiveness
looks like the biblical description of the
workings of sin. “Defensiveness” incarnates
all the blindness to the truth about
oneself which might be denominated
“pride.” It has that combination of self-deception
and deception of others that fits
under the heading “the deceitfulness of
sin.” It embodies a primal resistance to
honesty about oneself, an evasiveness,
excuse making, and blame shifting, all of
which are captured in a host of colorful
metaphors: stiff-necked, hardened or darkened
in heart, foolish, and so forth.
. . . .
All this is to say that the “ego
ideal” which “ego defense mechanisms”
are defending and the violations of one’s
internalized moral code which “self-exonerating
mechanisms” are busy justifying
are far from being mere “psychological”
categories. These are “theological” issues
to the core: the pervasive outworkings of
human pride in seeking—automatically
and blindly as well as willingly—to live
autonomously from the Creator and
Reinhold Niebuhr (1996, c. 1941, 1964). The Nature and Destiny of Man: a Christian Interpretation, 2 vols. Louisville: Westminster Charles Knox.