New book out on Thursday. It’s very different from my last one & intensely personal. Instead of explaining how other people end up believing untrue things, I dig deep into the early life experiences that led to me being wrong about a whole heap of things. A (very long) thread:
Two years ago today, in the midst of an awful family crisis, I started therapy after finally admitting that I wasn’t providing people I love with the help & support they needed. I did it more in desperation than in hope but scepticism soon gave way to a life-changing experience.
I learned that due mostly to some grim (but not paedophilic) experiences at my boarding schools, I’d spent most of my life in a state of almost permanent high alert. Attributes I’d always thought of as strengths - ‘resilience’ & a refusal ever to admit vulnerability or pain -
weren’t actually intrinsic parts of me but armour I started to forge when ten-year-old me was desperate to believe that being regularly beaten did me no ‘harm’. I had spent my whole life since with my fists up, believing that I could argue & wrestle my way out of *any* problem.
Shortly after lockdown began, having agreed to write a jolly book about people being ‘wrong’, David Cameron displayed exactly the same mindset as mine when he stated that Boris Johnson would ‘beat’ coronavirus because of the aggressive way he played tennis. It made me very sad.
Pre-therapy, I would have been exactly the same. Even a virus could be cajoled & harried into submission by my epic arsenal of gifts. I’d just had a dose, though, & understood just how dangerous it would be to treat Covid like a tennis partner or a debating rival. At that moment,
a very different book began to take shape. I decided to dig deeply into all the opinions & beliefs I held that seemed dangerous or dissonant in the hope of understanding & maybe even undoing them. Everything from corporal punishment & stop & search policies to marriage & tattoos.
There was no shortage of material and, perhaps because of the solitude of lockdown, no fear of turning an unflinching light on myself & my innermost secrets. Therapy has completely changed every aspect of my life. I have never felt so happy or complete yet, just four years ago,
I would have sworn blind that I was a ‘winner’, scared of nothing & nobody. I was almost physically incapable of admitting ever to being wrong & saw whatever success I enjoyed as evidence of my fundamental ‘rightness’. It had never occurred to me that there was a different way to
live, a different more authentic ‘me’. My new book, How Not To Be Wrong: The Art Of Changing Your Mind, is by far the most important thing I’ve done in my professional life & it begins with the most important thing I’ve done in my personal life. It is my greatest, fondest hope
that people similarly stuck in the straitjacket of a ‘survival personality’ will find the tools to loosen & even remove it. Even more, I hope it will help people who love people stuck in a state of permanent hyper-vigilance - lurching from dizzying highs to crushing lows - better
understand why we are like we are, why we do what we do. I can’t wait for publication day & if it brings a fraction of the improvement to your life that the journeys described have brought to mine, then I will be beside myself with happiness. (It’s also quite funny.) Thank you! x

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More from @mrjamesob

13 Apr
The tactics are clear:

1) Pretend that idiots wishing harm on PM are representative of all govt. critics. (Ignore all examples of harm being wished on govt. critics.)

2) Orchestrate pliant MPs & client journalists in ‘quote tweet’ pile-ons against the most effective criticism.
3) Insist that the govt. has ‘followed the science’ without explaining what science.

4) If pushed on 3, argue that explaining the science will ‘embarrass our allies’.

5) Wibble about ‘national cycles’ when asked why the govt. failed to learn from stark foreign examples.
6) Repeat 5 when asked to explain unflattering comparisons with Germany, Ireland etc

7) Introduce pithy but vacuous slogans into public discourse so that blindly loyal forelock-tuggers at least have something to shout into the ether. See ‘population density’ & ‘herd immunity’.
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