DUPED: What Makes Us Gullible?

Feb 10, 2022

A picture of a rat trap with a tube of bait illustrates the idea of gullibility.
PHOTO CREDIT: Brett Jordan via Unsplash

Jung says, “The more one turns to the light, the greater the shadow behind one’s back.” Unacknowledged shadow can increase vulnerability to coercive dealings and regrettable decisions. We may find ourselves scammed, ripped off, and left holding the bag. Why didn’t we see it coming? Mostly because our denied fears and desires create blind spots others manipulate. Advertisers, hucksters, and con men prey on our fear of danger and disapproval and our quest for security and status. Gullibility is marked by misplaced trust and willful witlessness. We may not pause to reflect, research a decision, or seek neutral counsel. It is often relieving to trust an external authority rather than bear the anxiety and responsibility of choosing. When we fail to see our own shadow, we may be unable to recognize it in others.

Here’s the dream we analyze:

“I am in a shopping mall with my wife. We pass by a booth that is an archery range, and I notice on a sign that I can fire off one arrow for free, but as I grab an arrow, my wife rushes me along, and the booth attendant says it’s not free. I’m disappointed but return the arrow. We then immediately walk into a store; the merchandise is not apparent. In a second, I am leaving the store alone. Near the exit, I realize I have a golden blade, like a letter opener or small dagger. I think to return it, but instead decide that since I almost walked out with it and stole it accidentally, I may as well pretend that’s what happened.” 


Stephen Greenspan. Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid It. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0313362165/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_5H0NDZJGST9PMC1GB1R9

Erich Fromm. Escape from Freedom. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPJOC7W/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_P8AYDQWYQKPRF9TKJ3D5

Science Daily https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060523072353.htm


Learn to Analyze your own Dreams: https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/


  1. Tracy

    Thank you for this podcast. How we ate susceptible to being duped is a relevant topic individually and collectively. I think pairing it with Betrayal elucidates another side of being duped. About two year’s ago, I wondered this too and I read CW vol. 18 pages 604-605 regarding Jung’s account of Mass Psychology. Mapping this over M. Desmet‘s recent work on Mass Formation Psychosis reveals more layers to the duped conundrum. Thank you again for digging in and tackling challenging areas of our human experience.

    • Tania

      Indeed Tracy, the work of Mattias Desmet is very eye opening. Thank you guys for bringing this up, important for the times we live in.

  2. Becky

    As always, thank you for your excellent work! I am a financial educator and coach and teaching a class on Family Resource Management. My students will listen and reflect on this episode in preparation to hear a guest speaker who is an expert on advising businesses in their marketing.

    • Joseph Lee

      Hi Becky,
      Thank you for your kind comment. Our mission is to introduce Jung’s perspective to anyone that might find it helpful. It is wonderful to know you and your students find our episode useful. In addition, you may find this collection of essays interesting. Soul and Money, https://a.co/d/5YfiY7P

      Please let us know how your class responds!

      ~ Joseph


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *