neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering ~ carl jung

As a counselor, I usually have compassion for the variety of coping mechanisms people use. But with Cognitive Dissonance—that’s trickier. In short, it’s believing one thing yet doing the reverse; it’s the reality between who we are and who we think we are. I find it a fancier name for denial, for lying, for hypocrisy, for delusion. Translation: the client doesn’t want to do the necessary work.

When most of us confront opposing wants, we have two choices: change our conduct for inner alignment to achieve integrity, or alter our attitudes and rationalize our behavior. Unfortunately, many are more prone to do the latter.

It’s “uncomfortable” to bring fantasy and reality together because suddenly it’s obvious what needs to be done and these depressing realizations mean we have a lot of work to do. Worse, we might have to face the fact that our “designs” are unfeasible. We might have to make an integris choice! We might feel pain! Yes, we will. Growth only happens in the land of reality.

Some examples: to be anti-birth control and yet pronounce abortion a sin, to believe in the sanctity of a glob of cells within a women’s body and yet adamantly endorse the death penalty, to be a vegetarian but eat chicken—poof! sleight of mind—conflict resolved. You no longer see it.

Unfortunately, I can, and so do most others. Cognitive Dissonance does reconcile our mind’s discomfort with incompatible thoughts and actions, but in a magical thinking kind of way. We hate to have our inconsistencies pointed out and will attempt all kinds of mental contortions to avoid them. Still, there’s a perverted leap over the truth. And a lot of secrecy, too.

This often occurs in marital affairs, where those involved are adrift in their created fantasies and fabricate a chimera rather than deal with the reality of their lives, their choices. Feels pretty immature and, honestly, spineless.

Because whatever you’re not dealing with, you’re passing on to someone else. Whether you intend to or not. See: now we’re cooking with gas(lighting). One of the major principles I taught my kids: If you throw a rock, don’t hide your hand. This meant they had to line their actions up with their thoughts and articulately stand by them. It taught them critical thinking skills which make it harder to inhabit the land of delusion. I respected my kids and their choices even if I sometimes disagreed with their “rock throwing.” Why? Because, at whatever age or stage of development, their intention was aligned with their whole Self.

I understand the need for resolution, I do. But I believe in conscience, too. Since when do people who compartmentalize not know what they’re doing? They do, and then they lie. To themselves, and to us.

2 thoughts on “neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering ~ carl jung

  1. I believe I have done this before. The 1959 Cognitive Dissonance experiment, at the bottom of your linked page, is difficult for me to understand. Is it saying that the people who were payed only $1 described the task as more exciting because it helped them to convince themselves that the whole experiment was worth their time? Maybe it is not this at all.
    Someone once told me “people will find ways to justify whatever they want to do.” I believe this is true, and related to your interpretation of cognitive dissonance. I like your “if you throw a rock, don’t hide your hand.” Concise is nice. And it does not rule out the possibility of an appropriate time to throw a rock. Thanks mom-eth.

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  2. I agree with you about the “vagary” of the 1959 experiment. I think there have been others since then that are more “definitive.” I also agree people will use and say whatever to justify whatever. Hence the reason I prefer people with integrity, not “reasons” and used the rock/hand alignment with my kids; it kept their integrity intact and their consciousness present instead of influencing them to step into a delusional world. Delusions suck for everyone but the deluded, and–one hopes–eventually even them.

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