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Perpetual Cognitive Dissonance

Todd Hayen

There’s a clinical term in psychology, which in the vernacular would be described with the phrase, “I think I am going crazy.” This is “cognitive dissonance.” I have actually seen this term show up in casual reading more often in the past couple of years than in all the years before. It seems to have become a rather common utterance.

I am not sure if I will be using the term correctly in this article because in its purest form it describes a cognitive malfunction which occurs when a person creates a story in their mind that doesn’t match reality.

There is an assumption in this definition that there is an objective reality to compare it to, and that reality, as defined here, is stable and not subject to multiple interpretations. Although this isn’t really important because you can still experience cognitive dissonance if both the “story” and what is perceived as “reality” is illusory. Thus cognitive dissonance verges on another clinical term, psychosis.

Despite these nuances in definitions, cognitive dissonance, as well as psychosis, supposedly (according to the folks in white coats) causes internal psychic problems. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this assumption, although if left alone I am not sure if psychotic people really have psychic problems. It is more likely that the people around them have the problems.

I digress.

Most definitions of cognitive dissonance describe it as a “tension” felt if a person behaves differently from a belief system they resonate with, such as an overweight person who eats cookies all day but believes they would be happier if healthier and at a lower weight. I would venture to extend this description to a person who fundamentally believes that a government of smiling, sweet-talking, elected politicians should be honest and caring but end up being liars and willfully hurtful toward their constituents.

The official definition also states that when someone encounters cognitive dissonance they will adjust whatever they have access to adjust in order to relieve the discomfort. In the above examples, a person eating cookies might deny that they are doing something that isn’t conducive to good health and weight loss, saying things like, “I didn’t eat that many!” or “these cookies are not really fattening.” The latter example might find those experiencing cognitive dissonance denying completely the lies of their smooth talking politicians, or justify them in some odd way: “he didn’t really mean it” or “she is only human, she just made a mistake.”

That, though, is “sheep side cognitive dissonance” and I am not as concerned about that in this article—(in general I am personally very concerned about it). Sheep do seem to be in a perpetual form of cognitive dissonance, but I am not sure if many of them know it yet. Their “beliefs” seem to match up with their perceived reality for the most part, so they don’t, at the moment, experience any dissonance. Possibly unconsciously they may, but have plunged themselves into a deep denial. But clinically, to this particular clinician, it doesn’t seem that way. I see no obvious resulting tension—not yet.

Those of us on this side of the fence, however, grapple with this every day because we are more conscious. Everyone’s world has been turned upside down. In fact, the world has basically been upside down, from what most of us perceived as being “right side up,” for quite some time—maybe even the chief dude Neanderthal king was a lying son-of-a-bitch, who knows. Depending on what particular time in history you “woke up”—meaning when did you first see through the fog and understand you had been fed a story your whole life—you are either a “long time truther,” or a rather “short time truther.” Fact is you were not born seeing the truth, unless you were born a soothsayer. Yes, there probably are a few outliers out there who popped out of the womb totally impervious to brainwashing—if you are one of these then more power to you.

However, it is human nature to believe the world, and other humans in it, are benevolent. What I mean by “human nature” is that babies are born to trust. They have to be taught otherwise, and if they grow up in the West, which in the past was fundamentally benign (compared to other rather traumatic areas of the world) they can easily live a life believing, for example, that their government is not going to intentionally hurt them. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, but as we see, most people seem to believe this.)

It is all part of our indoctrination to remain loyal to this “human nature” sort of benevolence. Since it is fundamentally our nature to believe in the benevolence of our world, when we learn that it is essentially false and a fabrication, then we will begin to experience this cognitive dissonance. This comes when we begin seeing that our experiences just don’t fit the story we were born believing.

Each time something crazy happens we have to shake our head…much like characters do in a cartoon, along with that “booooiiinnng” sound. “What the f—k???” Even though we know intellectually that nothing is really as it seems, most of the time when we actually experience an example of this insanity it takes a second for it to sink in, “Are you kidding? Really???”

Now, I know some of you out there are hard-core veterans and don’t shake your head, and don’t hear that “booooiiinnng” sound when something fishy happens. You may instead give a little smirk and think, “here we go again.” Well, I am not one of you, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of people out there reading this are not in your group either.

And when we see things like Universities still demanding their students wear masks, or places of employment still demanding vaccinations to be employed, or hear the talk of digital IDs and a no cash world, and 15 minute cities, and leaders telling their constituents they will hunt down the unvaccinated and make sure they get jabbed, we shake our head and hear “boooiiinnng.” I know I do.

This is the sort of cognitive dissonance I am talking about, and it is pretty much constant. I know for me a day doesn’t go by that I am not shaking my head. It truly is the Chicken Little story, the sky perpetually falling on our melons and all of us running around screaming about the impending doom, “Can’t you see it!? Can’t you see it!?” Nothing ever seems right; nothing ever seems to be properly aligned with basic human expectations. If we were all literal prisoners in the gulag, we would at least match up our internal beliefs with our external reality. We would know we were in prison. Right now, we have little literal reason to believe what we believe, other than pretty clear signs of it being planned.

Yes, those of us unvaccinated see the persecution, and the aforementioned mandates still in place. What we see indicates clearly to us that what we believe is really happening, at least part of it is. But we are constantly being told, “All is fine, nothing to worry about, we love you, we will take care of you, you should be happy you live in a free country, look at my shiny white smile, relax, all is safe…”


Todd Hayen is a registered psychotherapist practicing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He holds a PhD in depth psychotherapy and an MA in Consciousness Studies. He specializes in Jungian, archetypal, psychology. Todd also writes for his own substack, which you can read here


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