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Dilemmas of Trust

Dilemmas of Trust

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    Dilemmas of Trust
    Book Description:

    Trust facilitates communication, love, friendship, and co-operation and is fundamentally important to human relationships and personal development. Using examples from daily life, interviews, literature, and film, Govier describes the role of trust in friendship and in family relationships as well as the connection between self-trust, self-respect, and self-esteem. She examines the reasons we trust or distrust others and ourselves, and the expectations and vulnerabilities that accompany those attitudes.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6751-1
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Why Trust?
    (pp. 3-20)

    Whether it is between lovers, friends, family members, or colleagues, every human relationship features some degree of trust or distrust. And attitudes of trust and distrust have a profound effect on our relationships, influencing almost every dimension of them. When we trust, we take for granted that others are not out to harm us, that they are basically well intentioned, that we have nothing to fear from them; we can relax and be safe, enjoy each other, or work towards common goals. If we distrust, we are not at ease. We are fearful and suspicious and feel a need to...

  5. CHAPTER TWO The Focus of Friendship
    (pp. 21-49)

    We human beings are naturally interdependent and unwilling to spend our lives alone. Part of being human is needing other humans. To enjoy life, we need to share and construct it with others. We cannot flourish as human beings unless we take an interest in other people for their own sakes, and this we do primarily through friendships. Friendship is not the only relationship where trust is important; attitudes of trust and distrust are highly significant in all human relationships. Nevertheless, it provides an important context for reflecting on the nature and significance of trust, because trust is absolutely central...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Trust and the Family
    (pp. 50-72)

    Once upon a time a woman put up ten thousand dollars to bail her husband out of jail. He was there because he had been arrested for attempting to slit her throat. She forgave him. She let him move back in with her. She listened to him; she believed him; she thought he wanted to be reconciled with her. But life did not run smoothly; they did not live happily ever after. In the end, he killed her.¹

    This story tragically illustrates the psychic centrality of the family. For better, for worse, people do value their family connections. Women, especially,...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Problems of Trust in Families
    (pp. 73-86)

    The filmOrdinary Peopleshows a family committed to upholding a public image of success. Beth and Calvin are the middle-aged parents of Conrad, a miserably unhappy sixteen-year-old who attempted suicide shortly after the accidental death of his older brother. Calvin is a successful defence attorney and Beth a stay-at-home wife who has established her role in life as that of wife and mother in a happy successful family. The family lives in an elegant older home. Beth does not want to acknowledge Conrad’s problems and brightly insists that everything is “great.” She is furious when Calvin admits to friends...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Self -Trust
    (pp. 87-98)

    In a poignant essay the American therapist Carl Rogers described the tragic case of a young German woman known as Ellen West. A sensitive and expressive woman who married unhappily and starved herself into slimness, Ellen West was treated by numerous psychiatrists and doctors, and spent several years in a sanatorium. Released despite doctors’ knowledge that she was suicidal, she took a lethal dose of poison and died at the age of thirty-three. Rogers saw Ellen West as a person taught not to trust herself. She was distanced from herself to such an extent that she did not know or...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Self-Trust, Self-Respect, and Self-Esteem
    (pp. 99-118)

    When we have self-respect, we value ourselves for those things that make us persons: our consciousness, choices, capacities, and abilities. A person with self-respect has a sense that he or she is a human being whose interests and ends are valuable and who, as a human being, has dignity and worth. Having self-respect, a person can stand up when demeaned and insulted, with the conviction that these attitudes are not deserved. Allowing ourselves to be exploited, manipulated, or used over a long period of time is seriously undermining to our selfrespect; if we become tools enabling others to achieve their...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Reasons for Trust and Distrust
    (pp. 119-138)

    In her recent bookFalling Backwards,Doris Brothers lists four characteristics for evaluating the ”maturity” of grounds for trust. She says that such criteria count as mature insofar as they are realistic, abstract, complex, and differentiated. ByrealisticBrothers means that the criteria for judging trust are not perfectionistic or “phantasmagorical.” They recognize that a person who is trustworthy on the whole is not necessarily perfect, infallible, all-knowing, or all-powerful. Whether we are judging ourselves or other people for trustworthiness, to be reasonable we have to acknowledge, realistically, that a person can be basically trustworthy without being perfect or trustworthy...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT Distrust and Its Discomforts
    (pp. 139-164)

    In 1991 approximately 85,000 American women sought private detectives to check out the dependability of men they were dating, according to an article in the magazineNew Woman.¹ Ed Pankan, an investigator quoted in the piece, reported that his firm did twenty premarital investigations a week. Although most questions about boyfriends and fiancés were resolvable by background checks, matters of sexual fidelity could be addressed only by surveillance. According to Pankan, about one-third of the men he investigated were fully legitimate: their business and sexual lives were as they had said. Another third had been shading over some unpleasant facts....

  12. CHAPTER NINE Restoring Trust
    (pp. 165-182)

    It is a truism that it is easier to destroy trust than to restore it. In many contexts, we indeed try to restore trust, and it is important to do so. Various approaches have been recommended, and it is useful to consider them. But there is no magic recipe.

    One who is distrusted in an intimate relationship and wishes to restore the relationship may appeal for trust, asking the other to believe in her loyalty and dependability. She may ask for his trust back, saying in effect, “trust me.” In such a case the expression “trust me,” though imperative in...

  13. CHAPTER TEN Forgiveness and Reconciliation
    (pp. 183-203)

    When one person has wronged another, that wrong may result in powerful emotions of resentment, including anger, sorrow, and even hatred at having been harmed. When the two have been friends or intimate partners, such resentment undermines or destroys their previous relationship: affection and warmth, confidence and trust, may cease to exist. Such a situation is the background to the dynamic of forgiveness. A wronged person may forgive the other his offence, overcome feelings of resentment, and restore the relationship. If he indicates to the other person, in gestures, actions, or words, that he has relinquished his feelings of bitterness,...

  14. CHAPTER ELEVEN Dilemmas of Trust
    (pp. 204-212)

    Without trust, personal and social life would be impossible. With the dubious exception of hermits, holding back from trust is not an option for human beings. We must trust; yet we are vulnerable in doing so. Trust is risky. The primary dilemma of trust is that to have a meaningful personal and social life, we have to trust; yet we take risks when we do. The second dilemma is that trust, an essential element in all satisfying relationships, is a fragile thing, easier to break than to build. Although trust is crucial to relationships, it is often easy to undermine...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 213-230)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-238)
  17. Index
    (pp. 239-241)