Tag Archives: cognitive dissonance

Ghomeshi Case Takes Unexpected Turn


ghomeshi and lawyer

I have been following the case of Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian celebrity charged by numerous women for sexual assault happening years ago. When the case broke it was a huge step for the “breaking the silence” campaign, women were coming forward with allegations of physical abuse by Ghomeshi; to satisfy his fetish for violent sex and he was celebrity and powerful enough to intimidate many people into remaining silent. Everyone who knew him and worked with him describe him as being cocky, disrespectful of his colleagues and generally; he was a legend in his own mind.

You can read up on the players in the trial and more about the case here.

Ghomeshi was fired from his high paying radio announcer job and in a matter of days he watched his reputation and life crumble before his eyes. Women started coming out of the woodwork with allegations of sexual abuse dating back a decade or more. Ghomeshi’s guilt was never in doubt, 8 women could not be lying. Out of all the women only 3 were able to testify for various reasons, and of those women only one would reveal her identity; Lucy DeCoutere, best known for her role in the popular sitcom “Trailer Park Boys”.

The women all had a similar story,they met Ghomeshi, he was very personable, they went on a date, went back to his place and at that point he was physically abusive in some way, punching them in the head, strangling them, throwing them, forcing sex or oral sex on them and often times talking about his teddy bear, Big Ears Teddy who he would turn around so the teddy couldn’t see what he was doing. Afterwards he would act like nothing unusual happened and the women left.

Gimeshi admitted he like rough sex, the only thing he denied was the fact that the women did not give their consent to rough sex.

My heart sank when the court case started and his cracker jack lawyer brought evidence of communication from the women to Ghomeshi in the form of emails and one hand written letter wanting to see him again.

They ended up changing their testimony at the last minute, said they had forgotten they sent the emails; it didn’t look good and Ghomeshi’s lawyer ran with it. “If it was non consensual and if indeed you were so traumatized by it, why on earth would you actively seek his attention and want to see him again?” I am sure much of society is asking the same question; it is a logical question because it doesn’t make sense. Just like the question, “Why do they stay?” or “Why do I miss him so much when he treated me so bad?”

I don’t really understand it myself. I remember the first time James was abusive; he strangled me until I passed out. When I came to I remember the only thing I wanted was for him to hold me and tell me it was all a bad dream. I was sure he must feel awful. But he acted like nothing out of the ordinary happened. In fact when I went to him to talk about it and said, “James that was abuse.” he snorted and said, “It was not.”

I said, “James, how can you say that? You choked me until I passed out.”

He sighed and took his eyes off his computer to look at me with disdain, “I did not choke you. I had my hands on your throat.”

Me, “that is abuse James, you could have killed me!”

Him, “Don’t be ridiculous, I know exactly when to stop. Besides, a real man would have done it a lot sooner.”

I didn’t leave, I didn’t tell anyone, I decided to solve the problem, talk to him, figure out why he did it, fix him, fix us; and I decided to prove to him that I loved him and I protected him then and every time after that. The longer it went on the harder it was to tell anyone because how could I explain why I hadn’t said anything up until now, why I was still with him.

There is something that happens to the victim’s mind when they are violated; maybe it is a survival mechanism where the mind just does not accept what happened or maybe it is because the abuser acts like nothing happened and we are uncertain about what abuse actually is. Is it abuse if you are choked, punched in the head once, twice, thrown across the room? Did we deserve it? We must have done something to bring it on ourselves. It is ugly and we don’t want to deal with it so we try to make it right. It is called Cognitive Dissonance, where in order to deal with something that goes totally against our belief system, we alter the facts in our head to be something we can accept. We minimize the events, make excuses or come up with some other way of making it acceptable. You can read more about Cognitive Dissonance here.

The real problem with the court case and this unfortunate turn of events is Crown Counsel didn’t properly prepare their clients for court. For once the police and society in general believed the women and because of that they didn’t investigate the case in as much depth as they should have. No one thought to ask these women if there were emails out there or anything else they had forgotten about what happened after the incident. Ghomeshi hired one of the best and most expensive lawyers available, a woman.

Once again, it is proven that the judicial system is basically ignorant about abuse and the effects it has on the victim. We need a lot more education on how trauma affects the victim, what defines abuse, and that when people are dealing with insanity they don’t always act in a sane and rational way.

Ghomeshi also brought up the book 50 Shades of Grey, I have never read it myself but I have certainly heard the women gushing over the sex scenes. I have never liked the whole story line of the book and didn’t read it. It truly does blur the lines of acceptable consensual sex and abuse.

And once again the abuser sits calm, cool and collected, admitting to enough fault to appear honest yet never taking any blame and as much as I hate to say it, I think Ghomeshi is going to get away with it.

I just hope that this doesn’t send the message to other victims that it is not safe to speak out. We have to keep speaking out and educating people until abuse can no longer be excused away.


Judgement Day – Why Women Stay

When you hear women’s stories of their relationship with a narcissist and where they are left by the narcissist when the relationship ends you hear the same complaints.

1. They were strong independent women and can’t believe how dependent on the N they’ve become

2. No matter what they had going into the relationship, they are left destitute or fighting for what is rightfully theirs.

3. They feel alone, that people don’t understand what they have been through and unable to explain what they have been through or why they stayed, which doesn’t help them get the empathy and support they need.

4. They feel judged and blamed by society, friends, family and of course the narcissist.

It is obvious that the narcissist’s main method of controlling the victim is through finances.

I had never taken shit from any man, I had always maintained control in relationships. I hate to put it that way, it is not that I was controlling, (there is a difference) but I protected my best interests and never handed over control of my money or life to anyone; before JC.

When you have money, equity, credit it is a lot easier to stay independent and self-sufficient so it makes sense that the N would focus on gaining control of the finances in the relationship. It’s not like you were stupid and just handed over the money, it is obviously not a habit of yours to meet a man and hand over your  money and your assets; if it was you wouldn’t have had anything to hand over to the N. It isn’t that he put some sort of spell on you or hypnotized you (although it can feel like it at times). He is a master manipulator and pathological liar who knew exactly what buttons to push and how to kick start your natural instincts to do what he wants. You were working under the assumption you were dealing with a normal loving partner who only had your best interests at heart. You had no reason to believe that he was out to destroy you, even when his actions indicated that was his intention his words belied his actions and you became confused and more easily coerced.

Once the downward spiral starts it gains momentum quickly and before you know it you are totally under his control, destitute and wondering what happened.

I have researched how the N got this power over the victim to manipulate them into giving up everything for the N and it really is very simple and comes down to the narcissist using our natural instinct and responses against us. Either they have studied it or they have picked up on it through trial and error. The huge advantage they have over us, the victims, the average normal person; is that they do not feel like we do, they do not have guilt or a conscience and do not respond to stimuli like a normal person so they are immune to these techniques and can use them on others. They may not know why it works, they just know it does so they use it to get what they want.

You can be aware of these normal automatic reactions and protect yourself from falling victim to your natural knee jerk reactions.

First, think back to when you first met the narcissist, it is probably in the first meeting or first few dates you felt you had met your soul mate, once that feeling is embedded in your physic it is very hard to erase it. How does he (she) do it?

They mirror you back to yourself. I watched a video this morning on how to make someone fall in love with you and keep them forever (or as long as you want). This guy swears he can teach anyone how to get someone to fall in love with you in 3 simple questions, in other words, in a matter of a few hours you can have someone “head-over-heels, can’t-believe-their-good-fortune, heart-pounding, can’t-stop-thinking-about-you”, in love.

Most of us remember the narcissist as being totally self-centered and talking about himself, only interested in himself but if you think back to when you met him I am willing to bet that was not the case. The majority of victims will say that the narcissist was attentive and wanted to know all about the them. When you hear how simple it is you will really feel foolish, it is effective communication 101, but something most men don’t do. Most men feel they must impress the new woman so they talk all about themselves and their accomplishments etc and women have been taught to listen politely and be agreeable, so when a man shows an interest in them and wants to know all about them, they are flattered immediately.

All the N has to do is ask a simple casual question like, “what brought you here today” or “what do you do for a living.” They only have to get the victim talking about themselves and then find out what they are passionate about. ie: what they do for a living or what they would like to do for a living. Not fire 20 questions but casually ask and then wait to see what the victim says and feed it back to them almost word for word. If the person says they love their job the N goes with that and feeds it back to them, “So you love your job, what exactly do you love about it?” Or if the victim says they hate their job the N would respond with, “You hate your job, what else would you like to do?” when the victim says they are passionate about animals and would like to work with animals the N simply feeds it back to the victim, “You are passionate about animals and want to work with them, what brought out this passion for animals?” that gets the victim expounding on themselves and what they are passionate about and because the N is feeding them their own words they feel totally understood.

It doesn’t matter that the passion is related to their work because it activates that part of the brain related to passion, consequently the victim now feels passionate in the N’s company and associates passion with being with the N. If the N is nodding his head, looking at you with interest and seems impressed with your passion you will feel you have met your soul mate, that he accepts you and loves you just the way you are, you have just met the man of your dreams. I remember thinking I had to keep dating JC because I had never had anyone love me and accept me like he did. I was not that into him, it was that he was that into me.

Interest + Values + Passion = Love of your life.

Once they have you hooked into believing they are in love with you, they use something called the “Benjamin Franklin Effect” read more here  and that is to get you to do a favor for them. They get you to invest in the relationship, it may not be financial, more than likely it isn’t anything very big, because they want you to do it willingly. they will word it in such a way that you don’t feel pressured to do it and then they show appreciation for your effort. (by the way, this technique is used by businessmen when they want to influence people and is taught in courses on how to manipulate people for business or personal gain)

For instance, on JC and my first real date (we had talked several times on the phone prior to our first date) he mentioned he had just bought a new car and had no way of getting his old car home from the place he had bought his new car. I offered to help him the next day. It was nothing for me, it wasn’t a date, I was just going to meet him the next day and drive his old car back to his place for him. We met up the next day but he decided we didn’t have time to drive the car back to his place so we just moved it to a friend’s who lived close by, then he had to leave to go to his mom’s for the weekend. He was very grateful for the favor but I still owed him the favor of getting the car home to his place which led to another date. (pretty tricky. It also works if you can get a person to commit to helping you in some way because most people strive to keep their promises and will feel they owe you) He could not believe I was willing to do that for him. The next time we saw each other he asked me to come for supper and we would move the car, the minute I walked in the door he dragged me into the bedroom and we didn’t end up moving the car until the next morning, making me late for work.  I was now; subconsciously really invested in the relationship and more apt to invest more.

In business they teach people that if they have an adversary they want to win over, get them to do you a favor; something as simple as lend you a book, give you the phone number of someone, anything small. The minute they invest even in the smallest way they will start to be more interested in you and convince themselves they even like you. It is cognitive dissonance, when a person does something out of their comfort zone and rationalizes why they did it, they have to like the person because they did a favor for them. the more they invest the more they are apt to do and the more they convince themselves they like you. try it!

It is a proven fact of human nature that if a person invests in a relationship they are more likely to stay in the relationship and invest more; obviously the problem will automatically grow all by itself. The more you invest the more you are inclined to invest, the more committed you are to whatever you invested in. Make sense? the more you invest and lose the more apt you are to invest even more trying to recoup what you have los or justify losing what you have already invested. Rationally you would think a person would cut their losses and not invest more into a losing proposition but that is not human nature. Human nature is to rationalize the loss so they can accept it. Cognitive dissonance comes into play once again. The victim can not accept that they gave up control to someone who is evil so they refuse to see the evil and convince themselves that the person did not do it on purpose, is not evil and does not intend to destroy them.

To the outside world the victim is being stupid, allowing the narcissist to use and abuse them time after time, but the mind is doing what it does naturally; changing the way it views things to accept behavior they would not accept otherwise. It is rather confusing to me because it doesn’t make sense but there are many things about the human mind that don’t make sense and that is why we have to be very aware of our natural reactions to situations and correct the behavior we know is damaging to us. When we feel the impulse to invest more into a losing proposition we need to be aware of our tendency to cognitive dissonance, remove ourselves from the situation so we can think clearly and stay true to our values and boundaries.



Cognitive Dissonance and the Victim of Abuse

The following is taken from an article written by

Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Clinical PsychologistImage

“Cognitive Dissonance” explains how and why people change their ideas and opinions to support situations that do not appear to be healthy, positive, or normal. In the theory, an individual seeks to reduce information or opinions that make him or her uncomfortable. When we have two sets of cognitions (knowledge, opinion, feelings, input from others, etc.) that are the opposite, the situation becomes emotionally uncomfortable. Even though we might find ourselves in a foolish or difficult situation – few want to admit that fact. Instead, we attempt to reduce the dissonance – the fact that our cognitions don’t match, agree, or make sense when combined. “Cognitive Dissonance” can be reduced by adding new cognitions – adding new thoughts and attitudes. Some examples:

  • Heavy smokers know smoking causes lung cancer and multiple health risks. To continue smoking, the smoker changes his cognitions (thoughts/feelings) such as 1) “I’m smoking less than ten years ago”, 2) “I’m smoking low-tar cigarettes”, 3) “Those statistics are made up by the cancer industry conspiracy”, or 4) “Something’s got to get you anyway!” These new cognitions/attitudes allow them to keep smoking and actually begin blaming restaurants for being unfair.
  • You purchase a $40,000.00 Sport Utility Vehicle that gets 8 miles a gallon. You justify the expense and related issues with 1) “It’s great on trips (you take one trip per year)”, 2) “I can use it to haul stuff (one coffee table in 12 months), and 3) “You can carry a lot of people in it (95% of your trips are driver-only).”
  • Your husband/boyfriend becomes abusive and assaultive. You can’t leave due to the finances, children, or other factors. Through cognitive dissonance, you begin telling yourself “He only hits me open-handed” and “He’s had a lot of stress at work.”

Leon Festinger first coined “Cognitive Dissonance”. He had observed a cult (1956) in which members gave up their homes, incomes, and jobs to work for the cult. This cult believed in messages from outer space that predicted the day the world would end by a flood. As cult members and firm believers, they believed they would be saved by flying saucers at the appointed time. As they gathered and waited to be taken by flying saucers at the specified time, the end-of-the-world came and went. No flood and no flying saucer! Rather than believing they were foolish after all that personal and emotional investment – they decided their beliefs had actually saved the world from the flood and they became firmer in their beliefs after the failure of the prophecy. The moral – the more you invest (income, job, home, time, effort, etc.) the stronger your need to justify your position. If we invest $5.00 in a raffle ticket, we justify losing with “I’ll get them next time”. If you invest everything you have, it requires an almost unreasoning belief and unusual attitude to support and justify that investment.

Studies tell us we are more loyal and committed to something that is difficult, uncomfortable, and even humiliating. The initiation rituals of college fraternities, Marine boot camp, and graduate school all produce loyal and committed individuals. Almost any ordeal creates a bonding experience. Every couple, no matter how mismatched, falls in love in the movies after going through a terrorist takeover, being stalked by a killer, being stranded on an island, or being involved in an alien abduction. Investment and an ordeal are ingredients for a strong bonding – even if the bonding is unhealthy. No one bonds or falls in love by being a member of the Automobile Club or a music CD club. Struggling to survive on a deserted island – you bet!

Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship. Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:

  • Emotional Investment – We’ve invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.
  • Social Investment – We’ve got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we remain in the relationship.
  • Family Investments – If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded by the status and needs of the children.
  • Financial Investment – In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation. Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop that would make their departure and detachment easier.
  • Lifestyle Investment – Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
  • Intimacy Investment – We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy is often found in these situations.

In many cases, it’s not simply our feelings for an individual that keeps us in an unhealthy relationship – it’s often the amount of investment. Relationships are complex and we often only see the tip of the iceberg in public. For this reason, the most common phrase offered by the victim in defense of their unhealthy relationship is “You just don’t understand!”