For our "the truth won't always set you free" file:
One long-held theory has been that people become socially isolated because of their poor social skills — and, presumably, as they spend more time alone, the few skills they do have start to erode from lack of use. But new research suggests that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the socially isolated. Lonely people do understand social skills, and often outperform the non-lonely when asked to demonstrate that understanding. It’s just that when they’re in situations when they need those skills the most, they choke.
That's an example of something I've seen in my own life and in the lives of people I know. You can understand something vbery well on an intellectual level but still be unable to process it at the emotional level in a way that changes your behavior. I know very well that I isolate myself in social situations (finding a safe corner at parties) because I worry about what judgments other people will make about me, and that, really, they have the same fear but overcome it, and that I should, too. That's the intellect speaking, and my emotions don't process it, so I go find that corner.
I had an anorexic friend in Michigan City. After doing tons of research and undergoing extensive therapy, she understood her condition very well the damage staying at 80 pounds or below was doing to her body. "But that doesn't mean I don't still see a fat person looking back at me when I stare into the mirror," she once told me.