Addiction and cognitive dissonance

The idea of cognitive dissonance often facinates me, this is the idea that an internal conflict is happening when two competing attitudes are taking place by the same person. A simple example of this is smoking. Although I’m not a smoker (and never will be), people that do smoke are aware of the health consequences but continue to engage in this. There’s plenty of public opinion about smoking and campaigns to make people stop, but people continue to smoke. The reasons for this could be far reaching and never fully understood by the individual, but that’s where addiction and motivational interviewing comes into play. The idea of motivational interviewing is to recognize the ambivalence around addiction and better understand the dissonance that is taking place. Once identified, it’s then easier to better understand the addictive behaviour and come to a conclusion regarding which of the competing cognitions is more dominant. It’s from here that work can be done on what is truly desired by the individual.

It’s examples like this which make recognizing and understanding cognitive dissonance so interesting, by exploring this area, so much more can be understood about personal motives and the reasons underpinning them. As with most things, there could be plenty of personal blind spots when trying to explore our own dissonance which is why this is a great topic to take to supervision or within peer discussions.

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