Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance


To be or not to be, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
...
The Shakespearean Prince Hamlet in his soliloquy above talks about his indecisiveness. There are conflicting views among the literary intelligentsia on which one is the to be option and which is the not to be. I feel facing the highs and lows of life seems the more difficult to be option, and the braver option of taking up arms and fighting against and dying is the not to be. Hamlet continues in his monologue and observes that death is not an absolute annihilation and end of problems, you might still dream and God knows what you'll dream about and what dilemmas you might face therein. So the decision-making might never end.

Thoughts flutter. They make you fall in situations you need to make a decision. You have both the choices equally viable, both of them seem right, you have a tough time deciding which way to choose. You have a fight within yourself. You try to logically eliminate one of the options available, but you always have the fear of thoughts quivering and you regretting on The Road Not Taken at a later point in life.

There is another kind of situation you tend to fall in, which is more difficult than to-be-or-not-to-be. That is one after you have made a decision. Thoughts still flutter. You've made a decision but are unable to stick to it. It is not necessarily between the good and the bad, the two options available may be equally right or equally wrong. Correctness is anyway a relative concept. You choose one from the two roads equally travelled, and since there is no one less traveled by, there is nothing that has made all the difference. But two things cannot be the same, and you end up struggling with yourself.

Or, you know you've made a wrong move, but you tend to find excuses to yourself trying to justify your decision. Thoughts flutter again and you have a battle within yourself. Usually it is a tussle between the heart and the head. Invariably the heart wins, and the head ends up helping the heart win by providing excuses to you. A case of induced compliance without sufficient justification. The cognizance of your acts being against your own (and that of others') wellbeing makes you fall to abysmal depths and think very low of you. The moment you try to get up and stand against, something comes up that forces you to give in yet again. The more you give in, the more troubled you feel, the deeper you fall, and more difficult it becomes to emerge from the recesses of depression and self-criticism, and the more prone you become to giving in. A vicious circle follows, the exit from which is visible to you but you are not strong enough to follow the path. All this could have been avoided had you nipped it in the bud. Had you not let the uncomfortable feeling of dissonance come in the first place.

...

...

...


16 comments:

Chaitanya said...

So well written. Its great you can feel like a philosopher. Its written complex , but what it means is a simple thinking process everyone goes thru. On every thing you do - you end up two ways. to or not to ...

I read a very good article or blog about this some time back...by shakespeare only...which at a high level in life phase - he iterates the decision tree till you become old. And it has only one end ...there is no choice...this certainly relates to ur blog...

Indigo said...

Finally some respite from movies :)

Good thought though. Everyone experiences that. Is it an outcome of those clashes of opinions on your blogs?

Your third point when you try to justify to yourself your compulsive behaviour is actually Cognitive Dissonance. It is a common problem in psychology and a large number of people are affected by it. One school of thought believes cognitive dissonance arises not because people have conflicting thoughts within themselves, but because they see their actions conflicting with their normally positive views of themselves. If what I think is right, I feel this is your case.

ashes said...

Chaitanya:

Yeah, even I thought it was quite confusing and abstract to read...I scribbled it in 15 minutes or so...didn't think about it much...it was more of a transcript of the thoughts...I feel terrible at times, but cannot put my feelings to words properly.

Yeah, Shakespeare did explore the world of psychology through his characters. Even Sigmund Freud is said to have drawn upon Shakespearean psychology to draw his theories of human nature.

ashes said...

Indigo:

Those clashes might have had an influence, but I had this cognitive dissonance a long while through. And no, it is not about self-concept or about positive views of self. I generally have conflicting thoughts because I do things that I know ought not be done, but I end up losing the reign.

Anadi Misra said...

mere bolne ko kuch hai nahi isme...:P...but just to mark attendence...

ashes said...

Anadi:

:):):)

Haan usme kuchh khas bolne ko nahi hai...it is one of my rambling mutterings, things I scribble when I am not in the senses...

Cuckoo said...

And I have already given you my inputs. :)...Serious thoughts, very thoughtful...and ye sab hota hai... u r not the only one...

ashes said...

Cuckoo:

Thanks for your inputs :) Glad to know I am not alone :)

~vagabond~ said...

I now understand the basis behind your comment on my chaos of life post (http://memoirs-of-a-vagabond.blogspot.com/2008/11/chaos-of-life.html)

For all the analyzing of our feelings and actions that we do, I still think it is hard to put a finger on exactly what it is causing that cognitive dissonance.

ashes said...

Vagabond:

:) Yes, of late, for me, cognitive dissonance has been causing the chaos in life.

Only if I had been stronger on myself...

Rolling said...

Hi, when u can make time, do visit, read n tell me if I've slipped into ur "vicious circle..the exit to wh is visible...but hard to follow" or am thinking sane (meaning 'ok with the world n everybody else')and acting fine. can't see me unless I take me to mirrors u know :)
t.c. and bye

ashes said...

Trisha:

Excuse me for not replying for so long; I was really busy the whole of last week.

I believe slipping into a vicious circle is easy, and human, if you may call it. The next step is realizing that you are into one, and making conscious efforts to get out of it.

You are on my reader; I keep reading your posts. Shall go and comment on them now.

Rolling said...

O come on Ashes, pl do not apologize 4'being late', we all know tht this is4 pastime, after work, so its fine (I doit thse days 2compensate for not havng home/family anymore)(or 2combat boredom whn am laid up wth illness, like now ;) )

as4 choosing my own time-place 4death, without community at large screaming 'suicide' at me/my people,demeaning, insulting a decision, gve it some thought re-wrote what I'd posted earlier, with links to content tht made me think of it laterally, n now feel this atleast duzn't land me in a vicious circle, I guess I could swing it. I like organized life (bec tht leaves free-wheeling time after 'serious' pursuits), so this is integral 2the whole design. I realize as I exist on the periphery of 'conventional'/'acceptable-at-large',there always wd be enuf 'my way' space. Sometimes miss seeing that. Feeling of dissonance is disappearing now ;) Pple wdnt undertsand, but thts fine.

The accident u describe in the St Gobain post is 'shuddering', u were lucky, Ashes. In school we put somecolour, somesign, lately, bec evn birds hit n get hurt! Did they do anythng about it at that shop, yet?

Amiya Shrivastava said...

Cool...so now you have started writing reading comprehension paragraphs...where are the 5 questions??

However, after careful reading I could comprehend the paragraph and you have depicted a very practical situation!

This is what consumes most of my day..huh what a complex life!!

ashes said...

Rolling:

That is quite some heavy-duty philosophy I must admit went over my head. To add to the confusion were numerals 2 and 4 appearing out of the blue in the text of your comment, and words like duzn't. Just kidding :)

Good that you find an exit out of your vicious circle. I understand your realization that helped you out, it is great! I too found one, as mentioned in my latest post here, though it did not involve much effort from my side directly to get out.

ashes said...

Amiya:

I know it was complicated, but not that much. At least not for you. Life is indeed complex, good that you got the essence of my comprehension passage. Full marks :)

Post a Comment

  ©Template by Dicas Blogger.

TOPO