University of São Paulo: The mistake is transformative and changes the path of the person who committed it

Who has never made a mistake in their life and felt guilty, guaranteeing they would never do it again? The error should not be seen as something that has to be punished, on the contrary, the error teaches, precisely because it is not known that it would be an error. It is the so-called trial and inexperience that lead us to it.

Psychoanalyst Christian Dunker, professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology at the Institute of Psychology at USP, explains the three stages of truth denial: error, illusion and lying. “Historically, error has to do with a certain disorientation in relation to knowledge. The three figures that are denials of the truth: one is the error, which is characterized by a certain indeterminacy of where one is going, but we also have the illusion, which would then be the opposite of good representation, it would be falsehood from the cognitive point of view. . And we also have lying, which is the intentionality of manipulating and producing a state of consciousness in the other purposely wrong”, says Dunker.

path of truth
The person who makes the mistake does not suspect that he is making a mistake, unlike the person who is lying and who knows he is deceiving someone. The USP psychoanalyst reinforces that error is the path to truth. For Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy, Renato Janine Ribeiro, from the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at USP, making mistakes can be good, especially at a stage of knowledge, and it helps to learn. So, you shouldn’t feel guilty.“To err is not necessarily a bad thing, so we have to distinguish error and lie. In a lie, there is a bad intention, and in a mistake, not necessarily. Making mistakes can be, for example, a stage of knowledge, as when we talk about trial and error in research in general. You go down that path trying one thing, if it goes wrong, you learned from it. It is very enriching to make mistakes during the research”, evaluates Janine Ribeiro.


The mistake is transformative and changes the path of the person who made it. It is a combination of guilt and regret and leads us to reparation, as psychoanalyst Christian Dunker explains: “It is this reparation that is therapeutic. It is this reparation that transforms people, not regret and guilt,” he concludes.

Opportunity to grow
For Professor Renato Janine Ribeiro, regret is a natural mistake, there are no ethical deviations that somehow compromise the person who committed it. The error needs to be re-signified. The person needs to realize that the mistakes made can be an opportunity for growth, whether in personal or professional life, helping to be alert and motivated. The psychoanalyst Christian Dunker says that the mistake of the other also teaches us to avoid that those acts are repeated.

Making mistakes can bring shame and guilt. While it is uncomfortable, it is important to apologize and admit that you made a mistake so that you are ready for change. The value of truth must be in speech. The difficulty of apologizing in Brazil is organic and difficult to admit, because that would mean not having a second chance anymore. You know that famous phrase you’ve heard or said to someone: To err is human? That’s it, to err is human and you shouldn’t be afraid to fail, as it’s all part of personal growth.

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