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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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The Trouble with Elephants

The Trouble with Elephants

(p.79) Chapter Seven The Trouble with Elephants
The Elephant in the Room

Eviatar Zerubavel

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the costs considered for the benefits of conspiracies of silence. Silence is not just a product, but also a major source, of fear (which also explains why it impedes the recovery of persons who have been traumatized). One often needs to discuss the undiscussables that help produce it in the first place in order to overcome fear. Conspiracies of silence may lead to loneliness. They produce problems not only for individuals. Indeed, many of those problems are unmistakably social. It is noted that the deeper the silence, the thicker the tension that builds around it. Conspiracies of silence enable the prevention of confrontation, and consequently the clarification of problems. Ironically speaking, it is precisely the effort to collectively deny their ubiquitous presence that makes “elephants” so big.

Keywords:   silence, conspiracies, fear, loneliness, tension, problems, elephants

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