Emotional Bullshit

Emotional Bullshit

The Hidden Plague that Is Threatening to Destroy Your Relationships-and How to S top It

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Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781440658150
  • 272 Pages
  • TarcherPerigee
  • Adult


An invisible disease is affecting every aspect of your life. Insidious and creeping, it shapes you everyday – from the bedroom to the boardroom, from your shopping splurge, to the extra helping at your holiday dinner, to the dangerous liaison at work. It’s called emotional bullshit, and it’s encroaching on your happiness.

In Emotional Bullshit: The Hidden Plague That Is Threatening to Destroy Your Relationships – AND HOW TO STOP IT , Carl Alasko, Ph.D. sheds light on the stealth disease of Emotional BS: that is, the Toxic Trio of denial, delusion and blame that we fall back on when faced with difficult situations. These three dynamics work together to distort and manipulate truth, create a delusional reality, and shift blame when things fall apart. With the toxic trio in action, it’s all but impossible to get at the heart of the problem. The result, however, is obvious – no one can achieve happiness and fulfillment. And when used in the world of business, Emotional BS can lead to financial ruin.

In his over twenty years working with individuals, couples and families as a psychotherapist, Dr. Alasko has come to recognize the same problem underlying all his patients’ unhappiness. When confronted with an unpleasant or inconvenient reality, they fall prey to the TOXIC TRIO:

  • DENIAL: “My girlfriend enjoys a ‘good time’ at parties, sure. But she doesn’t have a drinking problem.”

    Decoded: There is no problem. Everything is okay. You’re exaggerating

    See: the drinker, the overweight, the wallet full of maxed-out credit cards (pg 12)

  • DELUSION: “Working late isn’t a problem. My family will understand when I get that big promotion.”

    Decoded: I’ll tell you what’s true. Don’t believe what you see – believe me.

    See: the demanding boss, the neglected partner, the alienated friend (pgs 63, 138)

  • BLAME: “She knew I hated sloppiness when she married me. Why can’t she pick up after herself?”

    Decoded: You’re the problem. I was forced to do it; I had no choice.

    See: the clean freak, sub-prime mortgages, Napoleon Bonaparte (pgs 45, 84)

When the Toxic Trio works together, we become stuck in a cycle of emotional BS, preventing us from moving on or learning from our mistakes.

Emotional bullshit’s pervasiveness in society can be found everywhere, from rising divorce rates, weight gain, and debt, to angry outbursts at work, loss of control over our children, and a lack of fulfillment in our lives. The solution is deceptively simple: You focus on your Core Needs, which is any behavior that advances your long-term best interest, and ask yourself the Master Question—“What do I need from this situation?”. Honestly addressing the larger issue – not just in the short term – cuts the BS in every relationship: between friends, co-workers, couples, in parenting and especially in business.

Frank, concise and unapologetic, EMOTIONAL BULLSHIT sheds light on this hidden plague, and provides concrete advice to keep it from infiltrating your relationships.



It’s a colorful term to describe a serious problem, namely, the manipulation of truth and creation of a delusional reality.

There are three psychological dynamics that make up Emotional BS: DENIAL, DELUSION and BLAME. I call them the Toxic Trio because when they’re in action, relationships of all kinds suffer. First, DENIAL ignores or minimizes an essential fact. When an essential fact is denied or minimized, a vacuum is created. DELUSION then creates a false reality to fill the vacuum. This delusional reality takes the place of actual fact. And when things fall apart, as they must . . . BLAME moves in to shift the responsibility onto someone or something else.

Emotional BS is always about short-term gain. The mantra is: I want what I want when I want it no matter the consequences. The negative emotions of ANXIETY, ANGER, FEAR and PAIN constantly push people to find a way to achieve a short-term gain. Anxiety about the future, anger about an injustice, fear about not being loved, pain over a possible rejection. These emotions fuel the drive to deny facts and live in a delusional reality. Ergo: Emotional BS.


It’s not an exaggeration to state that Emotional BS has reached a critical stage of destructiveness in our society. The recent economic crises is based entirely on the denial of essential facts and the creation of deluded BS Beliefs about how the economy and people function.

Here are a few common BS Beliefs that have led to serious economic and social crisis.

  • Americans don’t really have to pay for the goods or services they receive, whether from the government or other sources (hence, the credit crisis).

  • Because the free market is infallible, whatever is created by the free market system must be beneficial to all people.
  • We can endlessly continue consuming most of the world’s finite resources without consequences to ourselves. And consequences to others are not our concern.
  • Ideology, which is the firm belief in a point of view as absolute truth, is more important than any other consideration. This denies the essential fact that several points of view may be equally valid.

    Over the past twenty-plus years, as I’ve worked with clients, I always try to understand the pattern that underlies their difficulties. The pattern described above is one that I encountered time and again.

    As I developed this model, I began explaining it to clients—and using it aggressively in my own life—and have found the results to be compelling and powerful. Most people truly want to find a more effective way to function in the world, and to make better decisions.


    For one thing, there’s a big difference between ordinary BS, a harmless exaggeration or a small fib, and the destructiveness of using Denial, Delusion and Blame. For instance, telling a friend that her coat looks just fine (when you don’t really like it) is a common episode of ordinary BS.

    But it’s very difficult for us to recognize when we’re denying an essential fact because our agenda is to avoid discomfort or conflict—not to be rigorously honest with ourselves either about the truth, or our need to take care of ourselves. Therefore, it’s easier to deny an essential fact, then substitute a delusional reality.

    EXAMPLE: During an ordinary argument with your partner or spouse, you raise your voice and say something slightly derogatory. Agitated, you storm out. Later, you refuse to apologize because, A) you deny the essential fact that building closeness to your partner is vital to your happiness. B) you then create a delusional reality in which you see yourself as justified in shouting. C) you blame him/her for being too sensitive, demanding or rigid. Result: Emotional BS has taken over your relationship.


    The antidote to Emotional BS is remarkably simple: Focus on your Core Needs. That is, what you really need to be happy and fulfilled. The definition of a Core Need is any behavior that advances your long-term best interest—as opposed to short-term gain.

    The Master Question helps to bring your focus to any issue in the moment. This is: “What do I need from this situation right now?” The self-indulgent and short-term response might be acting out in anger or withdrawal. But an honest appraisal of the situation will bring forward the authentic answer. The two default answers are: 1) I need to bring this person closer. 2) I need serenity. These default answers are always valid in every situation.

    CONCLUSION: People use Emotional BS because they simply don’t know how to examine any situation or decision to see if they’re denying an essential fact. Because our society deliberately distorts reality for commercial gain it’s not easy to determine what’s true and what’s a distortion. A common social example is the hype about dating the Dreamy Guy, when there’s no correlation between long-term success in relationships and the external presentation. However, a rigorous focus on your long-term goals, your Core Needs, will help dilute the impulse to settle for a short-term gain based on the Toxic Trio, denial, delusion and blame.

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