In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort experienced by an individual who (1) holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time or (2) is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.
Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses are listed below:
1."The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance"
2."When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance"
The above is a pretty accurate diagnosis for today's conservatives who constantly tie themselves in knots trying to reconcile all of the conflicting ideas (i.e. voices) in their heads (like calling themselves "Christian" while being against everything Christ stood for). A glaring example of this happened this past week when the Texas Republican Convention voted to advance the debunked theory of "Reparative Therapy" in their party platform.
From ABC News...
Under the new proposed plank, the Texas GOP would "recognize the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle."
Adding to the crazy stew is sloppy-ass-drunk-I-can't-remember-which-programs-I-would-cut-as-President-Texas Governor Rick Perry, who this week compared homosexuality to alcoholism (msn.com).
"I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."
Now what the proponents of this stance are either too stubborn, too ignorant, too stupid, or too far-gone cray-cray to realize is just how it exposes their cognitive dissonance (or it could just be they don't know what cognitive dissonance is). Further, they also prove a point that the LGBT community has been making pretty much forever...that homosexuality is not a choice.
The right's big argument against hate-crimes and anti-discrimination laws that protect Gays and Lesbians, as well as marriage equality, is that being Gay is something that one chooses much the way someone choses to change their hair color. Now if you believe that being Gay is some kind of an affliction that can be affected by treatment, then it can't possibly be a choice, can it? One does not choose to catch a cold, or to have cancer. True, there are behaviors that can result in a disease such as cancer (like smoking, for instance), and actions one can take to prevent it (like quitting or not starting in the first place), but getting lung cancer is not something that is done at will. Neither is, especially if you buy into the merits of reparative therapy, being Gay. On the other hand if you believe that one's sexuality is somehow chosen (even though you'd be hard pressed to explain how you chose your own), then the idea that it can somehow be "cured" is not only illogical, it may very well be indicative of some kind of impending psychosis on your part since one cannot "cure" a choice. In short, homophobes need to pick one or the other. Either being Gay is an "affliction" to be "cured", or it's a choice. It cannot be both.
Now try to explain this to your average right-wing homophobic faux-Christian and the reaction you're likely to get is similar to the reaction of the android "Norman" in the Star Trek episode "I, Mudd" ("Everything I say is a lie. In fact, I'm lying to you right now."). And yet this is the kind of cognitive dissonance that the right faces every moment of their miserable lives. Constantly conflicting ideas and beliefs, contradictory viewpoints, opposing concepts, all battling for dominance in the paranoid delusional brain of today's conservative. And all fed by Fox News and AM hate-radio.
Obama is a Muslim...who went to a Christian church with a racist pastor for 20 years.
Climate change is a hoax...but it's God's will that the climate change.
It's Obama's fault there are no jobs...but if you can't find one you're just lazy.
KEEP YOUR GOVERNMENT HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE!
Being Gay is a CHOICE...but just let us beat you over the head with Leviticus and we can CURE you.
Cognitive dissonance. The pre-existing mental condition of today's conservatives. Good thing for them there's OBAMACARE.