|Anxiety William Doherty The Future of Psychotherapy Diets Wendy Behary Couples Mindfulness Mary Jo Barrett Etienne Wenger Narcissistic Clients Clinical Excellence Challenging Cases Attachment Gender Issues Men in Therapy Clinical Mastery David Schnarch Linda Bacon Ethics Mind/Body Symposium 2012 CE Comments Future of Psychotherapy Brain Science Trauma Alan Sroufe Community of Excellence Great Attachment Debate Attachment Theory Couples Therapy|
|The Art of Self-justification - Page 5|
According to Aronson and Tavris, no one is immune from cognitive dissonance, including therapists. Like everyone else, they want to protect their egos and reputations when they're wrong, as they did during the scandals of repressed memory and the hysterias of imagined child abuse in daycare centers (the authors devote a chapter to these low moments in the history of psychology).
Like many books that present a vast, overarching problem, the only solution to the ethical dilemmas posed by cognitive dissonance theory is, once again, that noble and often elusive goal: we need to be aware. They urge us to "rethink our own muddles." We must be vigilant about a virus that destroys politics, marriages, relationships, and nations. Who can argue against awareness? But can it stand up to our blind urge to self-justify?
The problem here is that in the rush to deploy social psychological generalities, individual differences sometimes can be shortchanged. Does cognitive dissonance theory explain why some conflicted people say no, despite the social pressures applied to them? Why some people really are able to put aside self-justification in difficult circumstances and admit that they were wrong?
With this caveat, I must say, this is a good, readable book with lots of marvelous stories about the pickles everybody (but me) gets into. I, by contrast, see clearly and wisely at all times. Pity. If only people could see what I see, we wouldn't need cognitive dissonance theory to explain how screwed up we are.
Richard Handler is a radio producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto, Canada. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters to the Editor about this article may be sent to email@example.com
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts