Cognitive Dissonance's picture



Cognitive Dissonance



It’s a simple enough word and one that should be familiar. A quick check of an online dictionary reveals an obvious definition, especially when we consider the root word ‘transcend’. “Exceeding or surpassing in degree or excellence” and “to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of; to overcome”. Simple……right?

From the very beginning, well before I selected Cognitive Dissonance to represent my online personality and certainly before Tyler plucked me from the Zero Hedge peanut gallery (aka the comment section) and offered me the opportunity to become a ZH contributor, my one and only desire when I wrote was to add perspective, to offer up what I thought was a bigger picture point of view. That purpose remains just as pronounced today as it ever was. But I feel stronger headwinds than normal buffeting me and the collective anger and loathing is rising, dangerously in my view.

But please don’t be mistaken. Not for one moment do I consider myself the Oracle from Delphi, nor some wise and giving man here to shower you with wisdom and healing. Not in the least. What I’m actually doing is simple and in many ways self serving. I’m faking it until I make it with the hope that if I give away something that I don’t really feel is fully within me, that I may further develop my empathy, compassion and perspective muscles, that I may grow stronger by offering to others what I feel lacking in myself.

This concept, my method, isn’t as counter intuitive as it might seem at first blush. Of course I am quite capable of empathy and perspective. The problem isn’t necessarily a lack of ability, but rather at times a lack of desire. You see……I was, and can still be, a very angry man. A very, very angry man. And it was slowly killing me. It wasn’t an epiphany that compelled me to begin to look within, but rather raw unbridled desperation to find something, anything, that would relieve my inner anguish and pain.

The thing was that at first I didn’t realize how much pain I was in. All I saw was my all consuming anger and indignation, righteous indignation in fact, the worst kind because it ‘allowed’ me to wallow in my own self pity while nursing my hurt ego. How dare those bastards ……… fill in the blank, there are plenty of outrages to choose from. ‘They’ were subverting the American Dream and hurting me and my own in the process. It was horrible and glorious at the same time. No critical thinking needed, just point and shoot both barrels at once. But over time it was eating me alive from the inside, and I didn’t know what to do about it. Or even if I should.


The best analogy I can find of the damage done to myself by my slow burn anger is that it was similar to eating every meal at McDonalds. While our belly is full, it’s never really satisfying and we wind up feeling more and more out of sorts with each subsequent meal, somewhat sick to the stomach and bloated. Over time we grow fat and distorted on all those empty calories while simultaneously wasting away from the lack of quality nutrition. Keep it up long enough and we will degrade both physically and mentally, resulting in a shorter life span and a marked decrease in quality of life on the way to our early grave.

I could go on describing the fallout from my lingering dysfunction (yup, still there, though less so each day) but that’s not the purpose of this article. The point is to explain the measures I continue to embrace to overcome my issues and to warn my loyal readers that I am recognizing the same dysfunction in you. Zero Hedge has always been about letting go, of speaking truth to power and venting frustrations, of finding comfort when huddled with like minded others who share a common goal, to oust the corruption and return to a more fair and equitable social order.

The thing is that the longer the social order remains……well, disorderly……the more intense our inner personal dysfunction can become. But rather than believe that society is coming unglued because of the creeping (rushing is more like it) political and financial corruption, consider that the process is actually reversed, that as we personally come apart at the seams, so does our society which in turn pushes society’s dredges (aka sociopaths) to the top of the heap in the form of thieving bankers, abusive multinational corporations and too-numerous-to-count hanger-on’s, enablers and sycophants.  

Regardless of whether you agree with my analysis of the source of the cancerous lesions or not, the purpose of this train of thought is not to be ‘right’, but to (re)gain our mental and emotional health and to make this our number one priority now and forever. Regardless of whether we feel we must ‘do’ something now (anything for God’s sake) or that it’s hopeless and futile (or more likely something in between) if our inner self, our essence, is not centered and at peace, at best we will be ineffective and at worst just a miserable person.

As well there is no going back, no unlearning or forgetting what we know, no return to blissful ignorance. In fact any attempt to go back to before, to forget all we know, will only feed our dysfunction and anger that much more. We cannot be plugged back into the Matrix, at least not without a frontal lobotomy. So let us acknowledge our inner madman and begin the process of self help and healing, then move forward individually and collectively.



Cognitive Dissonance

Introducing a new portal into the mind of Cognitive Dissonance




Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
blindman's picture

Steve Earle - The Low Highway (Bing Lounge)
"The Low Highway"

Travelin’ now
On the low highway
Three thousand miles
To the Frisco Bay

Cross the rivers wild
And the lonesome plains
Up the coast and down
And back again

Saw empty houses on a dead end street
People linin up for something to eat
And the ghost of America watching me
Through the broken windows of the factories

naked bones of a better day
As I roll down the low highway

Travelin’ now
On the low highway
By the yellow moon
And the light of day

snow white crown
On the mountain tall
and the valley down
Where the shadows fall

Met a man with a rifle in his hand
Been away to battle in a distant land
Taught him to hate taught him to kill
Now he’s out on the road with a hole to fill

Nobody knows the price he paid
So he takes his toll on the low highway

Travelin’ now
On the low highway
Windows down

Wheels turnin round
On the asphalt sayin
Every sound
Is a prophecy

Heard and old man grumble and a young girl cry
Brick wall crumble white dove fly
And a call for justice and a cry for peace
Voice of reason in the roar of the beast

And every mile was a prayer I prayed
As I roll down
The low highway

blindman's picture

from reading through much of the blog i would say,
as a sort of half assed summary, that "inner peace"
appears to be a dynamic state of attention to the
workings of the forces that are present or manifesting
in the moment. the pushes and pulls, the rising and falling,
the dark and the light as the attention of awareness is
maintained. there is a sort of geometry present here
as in numbers of objects and as the attention is maintained
one might notice that there arises an awareness of themselves
as a disembodied subject - separate from all the objects
appearing in "consciousness" or the field of awareness.
uncharted territory, so to speak, but really the stuff of
all the traditions, science and literature i suspect.
and music this.
Eva Cassidy - Fields of Gold lyrics

Motley Fool's picture



Fwiw, I used to share your anger. And I used to fear for the future.

However, I have widened my perspective on the human condition; it's drives and motives. This led me to peace within myself. Understanding what drives us makes understanding of the actions of others possible and lessens anger.

We could not be anywhere but where we are now.

This too shall pass.

The path has been laid and we need simply follow it.

I hope you are able to find your path from rage. It is all-consuming and self-destructive. It serves no positive purpose.

flacorps's picture

For Cog, and those reading his writings, let me humbly suggest something to consider.

I am a Christian, although nobody would ever mistake me for Christ or even for a "good Christian."

The first thing to note as a Christian is that we are all sinners, every last one of us, and none have the moral high ground. That really cuts down the range of people deserving of our anger.

The second thing to note is that hypocrisy is how most everyone gets through the day--not much to be mad at their either. But that special breed of hypocrites, the Pharisees are rife, even among Christians. Pharisees are the ones who feel like they are doing well, and God has favored them specially, and you (and I) need to bow down to them.

Clergy and bankers seem especially prone to the industrial-strength variant of hypocrisy. And unsurprisingly, those are the two that Christ had the most problems with. One set was the only one he ever physically attacked, and the other set was the group that had him killed (although I suspect they may have been far more tightly intertwined than commonly thought).

I agree with being transcendent in how we approach all but those two groups. And we should be very discerning with bankers and clergy. There are George Baileys and ... (I'm at a loss for great names of great clergy--they're the self-effacing ones and you don't really see them, you see Christ's love in them) ... around. As for the Pharisees--give 'em both barrels.

Stop expecting too much from everyone else. Christ cured ten lepers--leprosy was a huge deal to Jews and lepers were entirely excluded from society, so it was a much bigger deal than just curing someone's blindness or paralysis. Only one leper came back to thank him. Jesus didn't curse the other lepers or rescind their cures. That wasn't what his ministry was about. He was just happy to be thanked by the one.

shovelhead's picture

We choose the emotions we steep ourselves in regardless of the incident that initializes the immediate emotional response. We may not be able to control the initial rage / disgust of witnessing an egregious violation of trust or of a person but we can exercise control over our response in time.

This means using will power to gain dominance over our mental state and not to remain subject to emotional turmoil. This can require immense effort at times and the less than diligent in this effort can very easily  succumb to cynicism and in extreme cases, despair.

Just as exercising muscles builds strength and increase stamina, exercising the will to overcome negative emotions and their debilitating effects will do much the same.

Once people understand that they choose their feelings, they can then choose constructive responses, like substituting a generalized anger for determination to rectify a situation with an appropriate action.

Personally, since I'm lazy by nature, I try not to get overwrought because using will power is hard work.

Preventive maintenance is more efficient than repair. 

BTW: Best to you and Mrs. Cog on your new project. I always find your articles thought provoking and despite my lazy nature, I find a few of my brain cells skittering down a less traveled path after a read.

akarc's picture

"This means using will power............."

Tried it once with diarreah. Didn't work out so good. 

One Ton Lady's picture

Serenity now, serenity now.  


Wow, I feel better already..  Now , what to do about these jewish bankers  that are stealing our money and destroying our nation.

akarc's picture

What about those who are not Jewish yet still stealing our money. Feeling serene in ignorance?

Toolshed's picture

Am I the only one who has noticed the upsurge in anti-semetic comments, and not just on this site, in the last few years? Just an observation.

blindman's picture

the semites are anti phoenician.
stay calm, it was merely an attempt at humor.

Comte d'herblay's picture

You would do well to pay attention to reality:  

1) How many Gentile FED chairman have there been in the last 30 yrs?

2) How many of the Wall Street fraudulents are Gentile vs. Jewish?

3) Why is it that Rubin, Greenspan, Bernanke, Geithner, Summers, Yellen, Fuld, Blankfein, Gensler are still not being investigated for their complicity in the Mortgage backed securities fraud? 

IF the last names of the above were instead:   Capone, Lucchesi, Corleone, Battaglia, DeNiro, DeCaprio, Napolitano, DeLuca, and Lucca, you  can bet that the mass media would be screaming about the Mafia taking over our government and ceaselessly demanding Congressional hearings.

There is a conspiracy and conspiracy is NOT a theory, it's a Felony.



Wen_Dat's picture

Nothing. Walk away. Let go. 


It is YOU who is destroying "our" "nation"



cougar_w's picture

Aaaand ... now I have a way to gift you fifty bucks.

Go get 'em tiger.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Mrs. Cog and I are excited about what we, and be extension all those who join, are creating at TwoIceFloes. It is an experiment in reality creation. There are so many directions we can take that my head spins a bit sometimes. For now we will build upon what we already have created there and then see where the breeze takes us.

Thanks cougar

cougar_w's picture

Sounds like a winning strategy. Best of luck of course as they say. Not that anything so unreliable as luck enters into it. So allow me to wish you instead happy hunting.

the grateful unemployed's picture

if you have the right emotion (anger) but not all the facts, are you any better off than someone with the facts who is calm within themselves. my flirtation with zen (the prospective marriage of sense and sensiblity?) leads me to say it doesn't work. the western idea of zen isn't how it works in practise (i am pretty sure) its too hard to get into someone elses head, and we are usually wrong when we do that. the literati of last century wrote about the glow of living in the mythic time zone. (Joyce) now that we are in the mythic time zone, i ain't feeling any warmth. likewise zen is a flop, what do the Chinese do to keep warm? work comrade work.  its entirely likely that they own the social contract, and we own ourselves, and that is the classic Chinese dichotomy, Confucius and Tao. but then the Transcendentalists (Thoreau and Emerson took their ideas from the East) fortunately the American social contract is still a free market, even if Obamacare wants to control our health, our guns, and our thoughts. this is why we hate Obama, we hate that brand of Transcendentalism, so what are you selling me?

dexter_morgan's picture

Cog, are you saying basically to control your anger, rather than let your anger control (and destroy) you?

TBT or not TBT's picture

Reach out with your feelings, Luke.

akarc's picture

Cog, in your last post I wrote the following:

"So I was a bit surprised to discover that none other than U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the latest to provide me with that deliciously naughty feeling I get between my toes when my confirmation bias has just been tickled."

Alas Cog, do not revel long in knowing the truth. Often times it leads to great depression and sadness as the manufactured illusion usually wins.

(NOTE: I should have added anger w/ we know is a reaction to fear)


"Sorry to go on like this, but for you Cog, I say tread slowly.....It is a painful road you are traveling. Don't stop though (Grin)."

I don't know if you saw it or not. But though I alluded to the unjustifiable internment that continues today on a broader scale. It was mostly a personal message. 

I respect/admire the road you have taken. As you proceed learning to find your own truth you will find yourself experiencing many dangerous emotions that could impact decision making as you realize that most spend their time hiding from their truth.

You can find much on this road. You can lose much. As I said, go slow my friend. 

blindman's picture

i have fear and i have love.
lately, i could care less about
the fear and, if i wish to see another day,
i know i should be concerned about the love.

Wen_Dat's picture

yin and yang, thanks for all the links

sunnyside's picture

So maybe it is time instead of controlling that anger, to put it good use like in the building of guiltines and even knitting strong nooses?

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I get your point, and I am certain there will be a time when your suggestions will be followed.

But more to the point I am not trying to 'control' my anger. Rather I am trying to understand its roots so that I may put out the fire. Just because I can control the fire doesn't mean it still isn't doing great damage. I wish to end the damaging fire.

akarc's picture

You can not put out the fire. You must walk through it and reach the other side. Hard to do when so many are armed with matches.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

We are just using different words to mean the same thing. I must examine the fire to understand it. That requires that I walk through it. By doing so it no longer affects me unless I allow it to.

Comte d'herblay's picture

What you are trying to do denies your (and our) basic humanity.  The very (one of them) trait that makes us human, anger. You are going to be perpetually disappointed if you think you can 'end' it. 

Channeling it, is likely the more practical route, rather than 'putting out the fire', which only a robot would be able to do. 

I'd be curious to know your physical exercise regimen.  Anger is hormone driven, adrenaline that dumps itself into the blood and has nowhere to go is doing untold physical and mental damage to billions of human beans who resolutely refuse to get their butts in gear and do at least 30  minutes of TARGET HEART RATE exercise every day. And the angrier you are, the more of that hard work you will have to do. 

During the last 2 months I have been unable to do my normal 12 hours a week routine of vigorous activity what with the horrid weather, an upper resp congestion, and a serious pain in my arm from aggravating an old epicondylitis injury.   These have combined to reduce my physical TARGET HEART RATE exercise by 90%.  And guess what?  I am much more prone to bouts of anger that I cannot wholly discharge. 

I think this may at least mitigate most of your anger and follow the Buddha: Allowing you to change only those things that you can, and tolerating the ones you can not.







Professorlocknload's picture

"Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm."

akarc's picture

Tolerate or accept. The key is in the difference.  Internally and externally

blindman's picture

what is the frequency you wish to propagate?
there is a frequency that is entirely owned
and occupied and it is low, hard and weaponized.
there they crush the individual like a bug
or wipe them off like stains, no place for
a street fightin' man.
The Rolling Stones - Street Fighting Man

blindman's picture

ok, here/hear the tragic funny dark side.
Danny O'Keefe - More Than Eva Braun - Live at McCabe's
transcendent in it's own (dark) way.

blindman's picture

who said "beauty is truth"
and why would anyone say such a thing?

akarc's picture

Almost everything of value is bittersweet

blindman's picture

magic words, bitter sweet.
1997 Kim Richey live - Fallin' + I'm Alright

blindman's picture

there is no peace without justice.
there is no justice without truth.
there is no truth till someone stands
up and tells it. (like it is and true)
something like that.

One Ton Lady's picture

No justice. No peace. Get rid of the jew bankers and neocon yids and suddenly things around here start working again.

akarc's picture

I must always be mindful that with on small piece of information that I do not currently possess my whole truth can change in heartbeat. I know very little for certain.

rsnoble's picture

It's hard to keep inner peace when you are awakened to what's going on in the world.  In my mind you should be pissed.  Unless people have some sort of manic depressive episodes I advise everyone to stop taking shit like prozac.  People need to be up in arms and burning motherfuckers at the stakes not walking around running into walls and talking as if they are stoned and only partially alive.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I understand your point of view perfectly. But let me ask you a serious question. Are you fighting against the machine or your fellow man? I suspect that if you were to begin directly confronting these 'motherfuckers' that your friends, neighbors and countrymen will demand your head on a platter, not more of the motherfuckers.

The change must begin within, first within yourself, then within your fellow man. I know that my answer is extremely dissatisfying because you want change NOW. But the conditions we face today were brought about by decades of dysfunction. They will not be changed overnight. If you take down one motherfucker "We the People" will replace it with two more.

You are talking about winning the battle. I am talking about winning the war.

blindman's picture

there are them with a hundred year plan and strategy
and they have institutionalised the capture of the
youthful mind in "schooling", as in/like the fish.
merely an observation and hearsay comment i repeat
here. fwiw?

rsnoble's picture

Good points.

I've actually tried to stay on the path you mention but it's very difficult.

I know there isn't going to be anything that will change things 'right now'.

Just venting.  I still however prefer the drastic results require drastic measures campaign.  

One thing is for sure there is no shortage of assholes that's been proven.

akarc's picture

We all have asshole within us. We seek the light to get rid of the asshole. Impossible, one must know true darkness to know light. For everyone it is in varying degrees. We can not toss our the darkness within us. It is part and parcel of who we are. We must make friends with the animal within lest it claw through our bellies demanding to be fed. And feed it will. If allowed we will be it's first meal. 

TBT or not TBT's picture

Some people do not have an asshole, and must get by with a colostomy bag. Moral: you do want an asshole inside of you. And let's not forget the assholes, dicks, and pussies speech from Team America. These are the countervailing personality archetypes of our age.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture


As one who has been called an asshole many a time , I have found comfort in this.

Miffed ;-)

akarc's picture

That was fucking great. I will surely be sendinng it to all my friends. Still laughing.

Toolshed's picture

Your article seems to advocate being a sheep. You tell us to establish inner peace. Ok, then what? Hold hands and sing folk songs? It will require violence, and lots of it to resolve society's current disaster. TPTB are not going to suddenly realize that they were wrong, that inner peace is essential, and that they will never achieve peace while screwing over the masses. They will invite your mindset and capitalize on it so that they can get away with even more and bigger crimes, and continue to go unpunished. How much inner peace did the Jews have while waiting in line to enter the oven I wonder? And when the ovens were cooled, how much did that inner peace help? I understand your desire for calm and reasoned behavior. I prefer that state myself. At this point in the process, however, I think the time is nigh for violent retribution. We have been intentionally and systematically screwed by our trusted leaders and their cronys. Now is the time for anger and action. The old saying "give them an inch and they will take a mile" seems very applicable to our current dear leaders and their partners in crime. The more they get away with, the more they attempt to get away with. Where will that stop? I am sad to say that, regardless of what we want or think, or think we want, violence will be the agent of change. As usual, in all things human.


P.S. Your web site looks quite nice by the way. I look forward to investigating it furter.

PatientZero's picture

There is nothing more sheepish than being governed by fear. How the hell do you think things have gotten so bad? It's because Americans were sold fear. Fear governs this country and its people.