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24. Cognitive Dissonance

24. Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance:

“Dissonance” is a state of psychological discomfort that results from a conflict between a currently held belief and evidence that an opposing belief may be true. Beliefs can encompass ideas, attitudes, and opinions held by an individual and are expressed through thoughts and behaviors.

A critical component of cognitive dissonance theory is that the contradictory evidence that is presented to an individual must be credible evidence. Otherwise there would be no need for the individual to struggle with these competing beliefs. Once dissonance occurs, individuals are highly motivated to resolve this struggle.

There are two general categories of resolutions, the individual can either discard the original belief or disregard the contradictory evidence.

Encyclopedia of Educational Technology

If you couldn’t tell from my writing, that was happening to me big time last week. It got to the point that I wrote the chapter heading Cognitive Dissonance and I froze. Couldn’t write another word. I didn’t know what to write. I didn’t know what I thought.

It’s four days later now, and I’m fine again, thank you. Actually, thank you to my wife and friend Sherrie who helped talk me down from the heights of that spooky business I had gotten sidetracked onto with Sauren.

Spooky it was, (cue in Theremin music) though it’s completely behind me now, I think. This was the sort of non-rational point of view I was hoping to attain with the help of the ayahuasca, not in real life beforehand…

What brought me back solidly to consensus reality was my own realization that if something spooky was indeed happening, how could I be sure that it was to my benefit and not an “evil spirit” sent to put me off the true path? I couldn’t be sure at all…

In fact, those “thingies” I had seen under the nitrous certainly hadn’t seemed particularly concerned with my welfare. They most definitely seemed to have their own agendas.

That being the case, all the “signals” that I picked up might have been there to help or to hurt me, with no possible way of figuring out which.

In contrast, toss the spookiness and all’s well. I can still help Sauren, and he me, without my having to attach any mystical character to the relationship.

By the end of the last chapter I knew that I had to get out of the weirdness. I wrote that I would “pretend” it was an ordinary friendship. Remember? “Just lucky…”

But now I don’t feel like I’m pretending. Most of the synchronicities were Wilson’s rule of 23s. The others were truly unusual, but the unusual happens every day. Especially in Santa Cruz, as my wife pointed out. I have managed to find mundane explanations for almost every “fantastic” event that ever happened to me.

I am keenly aware of the “reality building” I do every day.

Forget about finding the “true” reality.

It doesn’t exist… It’s a made up concept in our minds. (Thanks, Plato…)

Find the reality that works best for you. (Thanks, William James…)

What I hope will work for me is the ayahuasca convincing me I am cured. Shouldn’t be too hard, I now realize. Just meeting a cool new friend was enough to send me to the moon, rationally speaking, of course.

Bob believes ayahuasca actually cures from its own properties rather than via the placebo effect. He may well be right, at least as far as cancer is concerned. There is so little information about ayahuasca vs. MS that I have to stick with my placebo approach. The point is that it will cease to be a placebo as far as I am concerned when the drug experience convinces me otherwise. If you thought I sounded nutty the last couple of chapters, well…

“You ain’t seen nuttin yet!”

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July 16, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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