When I first learned about Narcissist Personality Disorder, I read the term “Cognitive Dissonance” and did not understand what it meant. It took me a long time to be able to grasp the meaning of CD, but now that I get it, I see that all sorts of people have Cognitive Dissonance in all sorts of situations in their daily life. It is not something that is restricted to the realm of narcissistic abuse. CD gets involved in all sorts of abuses: domestic violence, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, financial abuse, abuse abuse. Cognitive dissonance is attached to abuse with giant, rusty, iron staples.
I am not a scientist, but here’s my take on CD.
Today’s example: Mommy and I were watching “Dr. Phil” on television. He was talking to a mother who insisted that she was not abusive to her child. In fact, she claimed that she was too lenient. Dr. Phil installed cameras in her home so he could see the truth for himself. Knowing there were cameras in her home, the mother told her daughters, aged 10 to 15:
And then she slapped one of the girls across the face.
Cognitive Dissonance #1: The mother above insists that she is “a good mother, and not abusive”.
Dr. Phil said that she has a rage problem, and that whenever he sees this kind of rage, he knows that there is emotional pain underneath that is causing it. He explained that she was creating a cycle of abuse by teaching her daughters to act from rage, and then getting upset because the girls behave just like her, like she taught them to behave. He asked her if that is what she wanted for her family. Of course she said no, but immediately resolved herself of all blame. “I lost my temper because they are bad girls. They force me to yell.” He was attempting to offer her counselling, but she could not get past the CD that she was an abusive mother. The trench in her brain was carved in the shape of false information “I am a good mother, and not abusive”. New information was rejected.
Cognitive Dissonance #2: I was watching the show alongside my mother and she remarked, “Wow. Can you believe how she talks to those girls?” I shook my head. I could not answer because my own mother says these exact words to me frequently. How could it not register in her brain that we have this very same exchange, too? Cognitive Dissonance.
At some point in my mother’s life, she learned the false information that once a child turns 18, it is okay to reject them. Her brain made a physical pathway for this data. She repeated the behavior until the trench became very deep. She can no longer accept new information.
And most importantly, the false information that leads to emotional abuse of her own children, this false information is the result of rage caused by emotional pain. Someone hurt her, so she hurts her children.
I also have a problem with rage, and it is also caused by emotional pain. While I do not have any children, I have my brother and sister. I worry about how it has affected their lives and their sense of self-value to be cut-off at 18. It seems harsh to me. It seems cruel.
Cognitive Dissonance #3: Mine. My parents will always love me. They will never reject me. I am precious to them.
Do you see how new information would cause emotional distress?
“Cognitive Dissonance Explained in Small Words.” is copyright © 2014 by 18mitzvot. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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