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Explaining Cognitive Dissonance

  • DH: I love you and your intactivism, and I'm so proud of you for how you are making a difference. It just makes me nervous to talk about. I know it makes other people uncomfortable too.
  • Me: That is just your cognitive dissonance
  • DH: You've said that before. I guess I still don't understand what that means.
  • Me: Ok, let's look it up, see exactly what the dictionary says.
  • Dictionary: Cognitive Dissonance, noun: the anxiety that is created by holding two conflicting states of mind.
  • Me: What you feel is anxiety. It's like this,
  • "I like my penis & it's circumcised and I love my parents and they would never hurt me, but circumcision is harmful and my parents allowed it to happen."
  • OR "I love my children and would never harm them and I circumcised them to protect them because I love them and didn't want them to be different, but you are telling me that circumcision is incredibly painful, traumatic, harmful and has no benefits."
  • OR "I have only had circumcised partners and I've always enjoyed sex but circumcision changes sex and actually makes it less than its meant to be."
  • See each one of these statements causes anxiety in the psyche because they are contradictory. This anxiety is sometimes so uncomfortable that the only reaction a person can have is anger and denial.
  • DH: Wow, thanks, that's exactly it.
  • Me: Yea after all the facts are on the table and people have been educated, it's just that sticky psychological discomfort we have to deal with. It's pretty much the main reason people keep cutting their children, because they can't cope with their own cognitive dissonance.
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