This is difficult without diagrams…and difficult with diagrams.
The first question is, do you see the triangle in Figure 1?
Two things might get in the way. Perhaps your brain just doesn’t work that way. Psychologists who study these things reckon that people’s brains normally do work that way, and that therefore most people should be able to see the triangle.
The other thing that gets in the way is something you learned. You learned that the triangle is an optical illusion. That word illusion tells you the triangle is not real. Therefore, even if you think you see the triangle, you think you don’t really see the triangle — it’s just an illusion.
The trouble with that is: It’s not an illusion. I drew the triangle and I know. I selected Symmetric Shape Tool, and Draw Polygon, set Number of sides to 3, dragged my mouse, and there’s the vector object listed in the Layers palette. It really is a triangle.
Now try this (hint: it’s harder): Within the Context of No-Context
The second question is: As a writer, or as a therapist, is it reasonable to do the kind of thing in Figure 2?
Again, there are two difficulties. People who could see the triangle before can now see perfectly well that this is not the same triangle. It sends a different message — the wrong message, perhaps.
People who could not see, or who could not believe, the first triangle think that this one is the only triangle, and that’s definitely the wrong message. The right message is to find a way to express the first triangle so that it remains authentic, true to itself. Figure 2 does not achieve that.
I think these difficulties are insurmountable. What would be the point of saying something you know to be wrong, only because if you say the thing you know to be right it might not be understood? And there’s:
A monk asked Nansen: `Is there a teaching no master ever preached before?’
Nansen said: ‘Yes, there is.’
‘What is it?’ asked the monk.
Nansen replied: ‘It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not things.’
Mumon’s Comment: Old Nansen gave away his treasure-words. He must have been greatly upset.
Nansen was too kind and lost his treasure.
Truly, words have no power.
Even though the mountain becomes the sea,
Words cannot open another’s mind.
So the third question is: Is there an in-between that gets around both sets of difficulties? Does the faint dashed line of Figure 3 suggest the original triangle enough for everyone to see it without straying too far from the original intention?
It is not without risk. Some people will still object that they were able to see the first triangle and this is not the same. Others will object to the dashed lines, which are not the thing itself but only an indication to help the thing itself to become visible.
A faint-dashed-line version-yet-not-version of the New Yorker article is here: Can Narcissism Be Cured? Extraordinarily, it tells you what to do. Unsurprisingly, there have been various objections.