The Protective Cover of Failure

By | May 12, 2016

Striving to be the best one can be the standard approach most individuals take in their daily lives. However, when the burdens of expectations reach a point where they overwhelm a person, some choose to fail on purpose in order to relieve themselves from that pressure.

Patrick Mahony - Protective cover failure

This aspect of psychoanalysis isn’t one that has a great deal of research conducted on it, but Patrick Mahony is someone who has at least a passing interest in the subject. That’s because he’s taken a deep exploration into the writings of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

Choosing a path in which failure is seen as the better alternative is something that doesn’t always remain within the mindset of children. In some instances, a willingness by adults to prove certain theories or concepts wrong can lead them to pursue this avenue of behavior.

In some cases, athletic events have seen teams simply go through the motions and not play up to their full potential. The reason for this is due to quirks during the course of a season where losing actually elicits a greater benefit. While rare, this is generally frowned upon because of the competitive nature of such events and the ethical considerations resulting from “fixing” the result.

However, children tend to use this model when they’re forced into something that they don’t want. Using the athletic analogy again, parents that want their reluctant child to play a sport THEY like can actually spur the youngster to act out by playing poorly or otherwise making minimal effort to succeed.

That parental pressure is sometimes adapted to educational pursuits, with rebellion from the child often to the outlet used. In these cases, a relentless drive to succeed that the parents attempt to instill instead ricochets into deliberate failure, which in some ways is better than children who choose suicide or other harmful action to protest.

Finally, in some cases, success in education is seen by some young males as somehow being an attack on their manhood. Patrick Mahony noted one controversial story out of Jamaica in 2011 in which some children used homophobia as a reason for not doing better in school.

Failure is a fact of life that all humans experience at different times of their life. However, Patrick Mahony is someone who knows that it isn’t always serendipity that causes that ultimate result.