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The Elephant in the RoomSilence and Denial in Everyday Life$
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Eviatar Zerubavel

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195187175

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195187175.001.0001

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Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

(p.73) Chapter six Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid
The Elephant in the Room

Eviatar Zerubavel

Oxford University Press

Silence breakers force the acknowledgment of things that people specifically prefer to ignore to avoid hurt or upset. Denial helps protect others besides oneself. The notion that “some things are better left unsaid” emphasizes the role of silence in preventing conflict. Many groups view silence breakers as threats to their very existence. Many families seem to feel much more threatened by efforts to call attention to instances of incest within them than by the offense itself, “the taboo against talking about it [thus being] stronger even than the taboo against doing it.” Conspiracies of silence are often viewed as far less threatening than the efforts to end them.

Keywords:   silence, conspiracies, denial, silence breakers, taboo

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