Note: the blue italics indicates the teacher, in black other participants.


What leads someone to be hypocritical, and how do you recognize hypocrisy?
If you have encountered this in your life, please share examples indicating what led you to act that way.

What leads to hypocrisy is self-interest, when someone wants to get something from someone else. You recognize it by observing whether the words are consistent with the actions, and by feeling it. Very often hypocrites unmask themselves in this way, they will not do what they should have done (or will do what they should not have done).
I make a distinction between “pretending” or “acting as if” and being hypocritical. Pretending is a matter of survival, or even a game like when we are children, whereas being hypocritical comes from one’s identity and self-interest in order to obtain something. I have countless examples in my life of “pretending” but not of having been hypocritical.

I would say that what drives someone to be hypocritical is a need to be accepted and recognized; it seems to me that the hypocrite’s discourse goes against what they feel is true deep down, and that they may not want/or cannot recognize (or assume) it.
I identify this type of person by the way they express themselves, by the intention behind the words. They go along with the interlocutor, but the tone implies the opposite of what they are saying and all the falsity in the background. You sense that they are forcing themselves to put on a front, which only partially conceals the reproaches/resentment that are intuitively felt below the surface.

What can lead to hypocrisy is the refusal to see one’s own shortcomings, the fear of feeling unloved, lifeless, so we construct appearances. And perhaps later, if we manage to believe them, it can become strategies for manipulating others… I think it can be detected by the lack of congruence, of vital energy throughout the body.

Here is the Larousse definition: “The attitude of concealing one’s true character or intentions, of affecting sentiments, opinions, virtues one does not have, in order to present oneself in a favorable light and inspire confidence” and/or “an action or statement intended to deceive about someone’s true feelings or intentions.” Put differently, I would say that hypocrisy is “acting as if” for personal interest. It is a form of the identity mechanism “pretending.”
It seems to me that a typical case of hypocrisy is making someone believe that you love or appreciate them in order to take advantage of their services or generosity (lure of gain). On the opposite end, it can be a way to protect oneself: someone may be hypocritical towards their boss out of fear of losing their job if they tell them the truth to their face.
Most often, it is a conscious act, but I believe one can be hypocritical unconsciously, especially to protect oneself. To recognize it, one must have a detector of incongruence, but if the hypocrite is a good actor it is difficult, and all that remains is to put oneself in their shoes to hope to detect it.
And personally, I cannot find an example. There were moments when I could have been hypocritical to avoid conflicts at work, but where I refused to be, and other examples where I “acted as if” to avoid hurting the other person, and not out of self-interest.

What leads someone to be hypocritical is the prospect of deriving an advantage, for example from a situation or a relationship. The person acts hypocritically out of self-interest.
I don’t really know how to recognize it, I tend to always believe what people tell me, the situations I encounter. I suppose there must be something recognizable in the unspoken, the behavior, but I fall for it very easily and only realize my naivety much later.
In my life I think especially of the period of adolescence when I was undoubtedly hypocritical in order to be part of a group, even though I felt completely out of step with the behaviors and values of its members. In this case, it was primarily not wanting to be rejected by “society” that was the source of the hypocrisy, or the lack of courage to assume my differences.

In my opinion, to be hypocritical is the opposite of being frank, it is not being sincere. It can come from internal consideration, fear of conflict, lack of responsibility, denial. It touches on manipulation, even bad faith, it is self-interest.
The example that comes to mind, in a company, is the person who does not want to get involved, who does not want to take risks, the person who wants to avoid being seen in a bad light, who goes with the flow, who says yes in front of you, and no behind your back.
It is an identity mechanism that prevents the person from being confronted with a deep lie on which their life is based. I’m thinking of our dear politicians.
I remember a situation at school where I arrived late and my teacher asked me where I was coming from. I spontaneously replied that it was none of his business. This response really angered him! Having been called to the principal’s office where I was confronted with the prospect of serious sanctions, I decided that it was not worth standing my ground, and I decided to apologize hypocritically. It was so unexpected for the principal that he was left speechless, but there was no other way out, he had to accept my apologies.

Hypocrite, yes I probably was; mostly a liar and deceiver out of shame, I was ashamed and unhappy that I didn’t understand anything, ashamed and unhappy that I wasn’t like the others, deceiving to pretend to be like the others. Until the day I let myself be unmasked for the first time with W’s NLP. It took me some time to understand that concealing and lying preserved my identity, closed off the possibility of seeing my demons (at the cost of suffering that I didn’t know was useful), my emotional fears, and discovering that I was lying and lying to myself out of self-interest, for profit to preserve a space where no one would come and unmask me.

I long believed that I was being hypocritical during our meetings, and this was a major impediment for me to be able to relax, because I sometimes expressed “insights” or real but non-permanent experiences, while having moments of straying in my personal life. One day I understood that it was vanity (to think that I was being hypocritical), and it was a great relief.
I regularly find myself pretending in my social life, mainly to cut short any attempt or possibility of discussion about opinions (generally political, social, …). I think that what leads to hypocrisy is manipulation, in order to serve self-interest. Recognizing hypocrisy would therefore amount to recognizing the other person’s self-interest (through their incongruence), and their (now futile) attempt to manipulate the situation. Of course, at bottom it is an attempt to escape the necessary suffering.
I have the memory (very painful, very shameful, followed by remorse…) of having “preached falsehood to know the truth”, especially in my romantic relationships. I think that was hypocrisy.

For me, hypocrisy is a dishonest attitude, a role we play knowingly while thinking the opposite, to protect our self-interest (fear of losing something). In my opinion, it is to be distinguished from “playing along” or “acting as if”, which I see rather as a useful lie, for example on a social level, and which simply serves to preserve a certain intimacy, and not to throw to the dogs what is sacred in me (and which is not linked to any fear).
I have an example dating from my adolescence. Between the ages of 13 and 18, I was very close friends with a classmate, we were inseparable. At first this friendship was extraordinary for me, it brought me out of my bubble; then I realized that our relationship was unbalanced and my friend was very exclusive, wanting to always be the center of attention. It had become too suffocating for me, and at a certain point I decided that at the end of our studies, I would stop associating with this person. In the meantime, I was hypocritical, I continued to play the role of confidante, I “acted as if nothing was wrong” to avoid conflicts, knowing that I would still be in contact with her for a few more months. But I knew that as soon as we stopped going to class together, I would cut off all contact.
What drove me to act this way: cowardice. I wanted to preserve my personal comfort, I was afraid to talk to her, afraid to give her my point of view, afraid to tell her that I was suffocating by her side. I mainly wanted to avoid getting into conflict with her.
Acting without hypocrisy would have been to distance myself from this person after realizing that the relationship was unhealthy.

I’ve been racking my brain for several days, but I’m having a hard time finding an experience where I was hypocritical. I think I’ve understood why I didn’t use this identity mechanism: my original belief being “I am not loved”, I must have been afraid that the hypocrisy could be unmasked and result in the loss of affection, consideration from the “victim” person and perhaps also from other people around me, who would think that I am not reliable in terms of my true feelings; in short that I am false, and that as such I should be avoided. I clearly see the link between my original belief and this fear of losing others’ affection because of a hypocritical attitude.
Since I don’t have any direct lived experience, I based myself on observations around me to deepen this theme. The hypocrite’s motivation seems to me to be a desire to manipulate others, to have power over them. But also a desire to please despite everything, and to become intoxicated a little with this conceptual scent that would express itself thus: “even this person whom I despise, or hate, or who matters little to me… finds interest in my opinion”.
There is a form of arrogance, a feeling of superiority that is expressed by a false interest towards others, perhaps to extract information from them to potentially use against them later, to mock or blame them, or more prosaically to manipulate them or gain an advantage.
How to recognize it? I think we feel the irrelevance of their remarks or questions, we guess a hidden ulterior motive. Perhaps through a set of non-verbal behaviors, if not in the tone, or in a relational approach that we sense is artificial.

Larousse definition: “the act of disguising one’s true character, of expressing opinions, feelings that one does not have. Synonyms: dissimulation, duplicity, falsity, deceit.”
Immediately, I thought of the play by William Shakespeare “Richard III”. This character acts as the absolute master of hypocrisy to achieve his ends, to become king. Hypocrisy is a conscious dissimulation to achieve one’s ends. It is the weapon of manipulation, it is the weapon of cold revenge, self-interest is the driving force. Recognizing it is not at all easy for me. The person who employs it must be a good actor. I remember nuns or priests who seemed perfectly hypocritical to me. Syrupy on the surface, and calculating underneath. I remember their tone of voice, which I felt was polished, worked on, and which drove me crazy.
Did I use this means to achieve my ends? After reflection, I must say yes. When R. announced his departure, I was shocked, even though I suspected it; and quickly, I also saw the advantages. But this feeling of deliverance, I never showed it to him. So yes, in this case, I was indeed hypocritical so that he would not change his mind again. Otherwise I use hypocrisy when I have difficulty expressing my emotions, when they are confused, intertwined, rather than looking them in the face and trying to untangle their threads. These emotions can be: anger, guilt, avoiding feeling “mean”, or wanting to be thought of as “nice”, not wanting to hurt the other person, not being able to bear the hurt I risk inflicting on the other person. So avoiding conflict? Then yes I flee, and I can use hypocrisy to hide these emotions. In this case, it is indeed my self-interest that comes into play, not necessarily to want to harm the other, but rather (and this is paradoxical) not to harm them.

Hypocrisy is to be distinguished from “acting as if”, which I understand rather as an intentional “pretending” to remain transparent by adapting to a given context. Being hypocritical implies a surreptitious intention to deceive the other, to conceal what one really thinks, to hide what one really is, to hide behind a lack of frankness so as not to reveal oneself, to protect one’s self-interest. I certainly used hypocrisy during adolescence, out of shame at my ignorance, with a touch of pride or naivety to avoid being unmasked.
I almost intuitively sense the manipulation that lies behind hypocrisy and lying, because it resonates as false through my body. Either I denounce it wholeheartedly, or I keep it to myself depending on the context, and I distance myself.