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How to Resolve Your Inner Conflicts? Deceive Yourself!

Uploaded 4/26/2023, approx. 22 minute read

Okay, before you subject yourself to today's video, masochistically, one announcement and one clarification.

The announcement, 99% of all my videos are now transcribed and they are available in the form of an Android application, an app, which you can install on your smartphone and you can search all the text for keywords and everything, well over 1,000 videos. So there's a link in the description of this video, there's a link, click on the link, you'll be taken to Google Play if you have an Android phone and you'll be able to install the application and enjoy my words of wisdom, my pearls of wisdom.

Also there's a website and so those of you who like me have iPhones, you would need to go to the website and it's the same functionality, absolutely the same functionality. So either app for Android or website for humans, so these are the two options, it's courtesy the graph codes and I am exceedingly pleased with it.

It's finally all my work on narcissism, well at least the videos, all of it is in one place and searchable and an amazing, amazing work of love by this man, the graph. I'm very grateful to him.


Now a clarification, in video we're about to see I'm discussing parts and self-states and it's easy to confuse parts, personality parts with ego states, with self-states and with the proliferation of other phrases and denominations and I don't know what as psychology matured and progressed through its lifespan.

Here's the key, parts characterize, they are extensive parts, when we say parts they characterize the entire personality.

So each and every self-state has access to all the parts. The parts are like a database accessible to all the self-states, it's like memory, memory is accessible to all the self-states. That's why self-states are very minimally dissociative, not at all dissociative.

Intelligence and other resources, the intellect, they're also available to all the self-states. Access to emotions and cognitions.

So there's a series of databases in every human being and these databases are accessible to all the self-states. They share, it's a sharing network, all the self-states share these databases and one of these databases is the parts.

Now I recommend that you watch the video that I've made of course on structural dissociation to understand exactly what parts are.

In the classic theory there are apparently normal parts, emotional parts and so on and so forth. Have a look and avail yourself of the information there.

But just remember, don't confuse self-states with parts. When a self-state takes over, it becomes you, it becomes 100% you. There's nothing else except the self-state.

So the self-state has access to everything inside you, all the internal processes, the psychodynamics, the parts, the memories, your identity, if you have a stable identity, not a disturbed identity, etc.

Okay, this is just to clarify.

There are popular books about parts. Janina Fischer's book 2016 is a good one. It's introductory text. It's popularized, it's fully scientific. It describes what happens to the child's brain mainly as the child is exposed to maternal affection and maternal interactions and so on.

So this is about the psychogenesis of parts.

But there are other books about trauma mainly which delve much deeper into the concept of parts. It's a very useful abstraction. Of course we don't have parts, we're not broken, we're not fragmented. But it's a kind of abstraction, it's a kind of model, a model that helps us to understand trauma better and even treat it better.

So good luck with today's video. And those of you who survived it, shockingly, there will be more to come.

I need to break up with my abuser, but I love him. I want to buy this shiny new smartphone, but I can't afford it. I would love to climb the Everest, but I'm 62 years old.

These are contradictory thoughts. They conflict with each other. They create internal stress in a conflict.

This is the topic of today's video.

Dissonances, how to cope with them and how to solve them.

And I propose dissonance.

My name is Sam Vaknin and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism, you guessed it, revisited. I'm also a former visiting professor of psychology.


Dissonance, a word I love and use a lot in all my videos.

The most famous of all the types of dissonances is cognitive dissonance.

Subutaneously entertaining or harboring or having two or more conflicting pieces of information or contradictory thoughts of the kind that opened this video.


But before we go there, before we go to how to solve the solutions, a few videos you should watch.

Watch the video about structural dissociation.

They're all on my channel, of course. Watch the video about structural dissociation. Watch the video about intra-psychic activation model, IPAM. Watch the video about the thorny horns of the dilemma and how to solve dilemmas. It's also on my channel, Horns and Everything.

Dissonance can be easily described as two parts interacting.

Well there is this theory of parts. There is something called internal family system where there's one type of parts.

There are trauma theories which are based on theories of parts.

In general it is a belief that we don't have a unitary personality but that there are parts inside us which interact with each other, which maintain a kind of ongoing dialogue or polylog.

And it is our behaviors are the outcomes of this constant interlocution between the parts.

So we can describe cognitive dissonance as a clash of cognitions, clash of emotions sometimes. We'll discuss it a bit later.

The clash of internal processes in an allegedly, ideally constructed unitary self.

As you well know, those of you who have suffered through my channel, I'm dead set against this description of the human psyche. I think it's counterfactual and nonsensical. People are not unitary. They are in flux. They are much more like a river than like a pond or an ocean.

So because they are in flux, of course they have parts.

I'm a strong adherent of the belief that what we used to call self is actually an assemblage. A theater troupe, a collection, a kaleidoscopic collection or collage of shimmering portions or shimmering parts that come into being on the fly and then disappear again.

We are dream creatures in this sense and highly surrealistic.

So a cognitive dissonance can be described as a clash between two cognitions in a unitary self, but it's a bad description in my view. It doesn't fit reality. A much better description would be two contradictory parts interacting.

When two contradictory parts interact, we have a dissonance.

An even better description would be two types of parts interacting.

For example, there's a famous mainstream theory of trauma, which posits that we have two types of parts, apparently normal parts and emotional parts, A and B and E P.

And I think when these two types of parts interact, they create dissonance.

And coming back to my own work, which is based on the work of Bromberg and others, self-states, a dissonance can easily be described or captured in terms of self-states, two co-extant self-states interacting.

When we have two self-states jostling for control of the mind, fighting each other out, conflicting, then we have dissonance.

And this usually happens in the switching phase from one self-state to another.

Again, watch my video on IPAM, Intracycheic Activation Model.

So to summarize this part of the video, dissonance can be described as a clash of cognitions within a unitary self. It can be described as a clash of two parts or more within a personality.

It can be described as a conflict between two types of parts, for example, apparently normal parts and emotional parts, A and B and E P.

This is especially valid in trauma studies.

And it can be described perhaps most cogently and most comprehensively using the self-state model.

When one self-state has to yield to another because the environment has changed, when one self-state has to turn itself off, become deactivated and vacate itself so that another self-state can take over, a self-state which is much better suited to cope with the new environment, much more adapted to the new environment.

When this switching happens, there are moments of coexistence of both self-states.

And those moments are what we call dissonance.

So cognitive dissonance in orthodoxy, the way we teach it in universities, when someone or their parts or their self-states hold simultaneously to conflicting views, values, bits of information which call for diametrically opposed decisions or actions.

I start, I gave three examples at the beginning of the video.

And this state of affairs, where there are two or more equally potent alternatives, they hold the same attraction, they are equally seductive, they are equally compelling and convincing what to do, how to resolve this equipotency, how to extricate yourself from a situation where wherever you turn, there's the fear of missing out.

So this state of affairs generates an inner conflict and triggers several primitive infantile defense mechanisms such as denial, splitting, projection and reaction formation.

One way to cope with this predicament is to transition from dissonance to consonance.

How can this be accomplished?

You need to come up with a reconciling narrative, a theory of everything, a scientific theory if you wish, which seamlessly accommodates both conflicting points of view or both contradictory sets of data.

And you take everything that disagrees and you put them together in a theory.

So for example, when we see event A and we see event B, we can say that event A caused event B, we can say that event B caused event A, we can even say that they are correlated.

In other words, event A and event B move in the same direction in the same way or perform the same functions.

This is one way of looking at things.

And this is the unitary self way.


But there's an alternative.

You could assume that there is an event C or an entity C and C coordinates A and B. It is C that gives A and B meaning, direction, sense and causes them to interact in a way that appears to be causative.

So as you see, there are many ways to accommodate any set of facts.

So when you have two conflicting views, two conflicting wishes and you can't reconcile them, one way to do that is to write a story because we are all storytellers, to write a narrative, a script where both A and B make sense actually where they become inevitable, three conditions for each other, naturally and seamlessly compatible.

This can be done always.

Here's a rule.

Let's call it Vaknin's rule because I was modest, I would have been perfect.

So Vaknin's rule for every two conflicting pieces of data, A and B, there's always a narrative C that accommodates them perfectly and resolves the dissonance.

If this is true, if this is true, if this were true, then this is the solution to dissonance.


And I'm going to demonstrate to you five options of constructing such soothing fiction because yes, to resolve a dissonance, you need to self deceive.

You need to lie to yourself.

I'm sorry, there's absolutely no other way.

Is it moral?

It's immoral to lie to other people.

That's perfectly okay to lie to yourself if the lie doesn't create problems which are far greater than the problems it solves.

Usually when we construct narratives of our lives, autobiographical narratives, moralistic narratives, morality plays, when we cast ourselves as victims or whatever, we are deceiving ourselves. We are adhering to a piece of fiction that usually we are the authors of, we offered this piece of fiction.

So here are the five ways to resolve a dissonance.

The first way, temporal.

A is true at one time and not A is true at another time, at another period.

So if we have A and not A, simultaneously we have a dissonance because they can't both be true. Yet they are equally compelling, equally convincing, appear to be equally voracious and truthful.

How do we resolve this?

We simply say A is valid on Tuesday and not A is valid on Thursday. We can also say A is a transient state of affairs, not A is the rule. These are temporal solutions.

If you apply these solutions, you will read yourself of the dissonance.

The second type of solutions is what I call reactive solutions.

They go like this.

A is the normal. A is the standard. A is common. A should prevail.

Not A happened because of some trigger, provocation, change in circumstances, environments or conditions.

In short, not A is a fluke, an aberration. It's a side effect. It's a byproduct. It's not the real thing. Not A is abnormal and therefore a mere curiosity which should stick to A.

And I call this solution the reactive solution.

The third solution is the inclusive solution.

And here is how it goes.

The inclusive solution says both A and not A are pieces of a bigger puzzle, a picture, a theory, the entity C that I mentioned before.

Their contradiction and contradiction, they are only apparent because we have no access to the bigger picture. We have no awareness of the true and full picture. We have no knowledge or capacity to realize the entire dimension of the reality involved.

So for example, God is good but the world is full of evil. A and not A. This problem is known as theodicy and I have an essay on my website dedicated to theodicy.

So A, God is good, not A, the world is the world. God's creation is evil.

How do we reconcile this?

We say God has the big picture. We have no access to God's mind.

So we can't become aware of the big picture. As long as we are denied access to the big picture, the contradiction between A and not A is only apparent. It reflects our own limitations, our shortcomings, our finitude as mere mortals. It's an example of an inclusive solution which is very common and typical in ideologies, in religions and when we adhere to big symbol sets like the nation state.


The fourth type of solution is denial.

That's a very common solution. It's also considered to be a psychological defense mechanism and it is often deployed to get rid of dissonance.

Denial simply says both A and not A are true. They lead to the same conclusions. There is no contradiction. The contradiction is only apparent.

Consider for example the following.

My husband beats me up. My husband loves me.

These are two sentences.

A and apparently not A because people usually beat up people they don't like. They don't love. Love and physical abuse don't and should never go together.

So there should be a dissonance. There's A, my husband loves me.

B, my husband places me in a hospital on a regular basis.

How do you reconcile this?

By claiming that there is no contradiction. Denying the contradiction. Denying it away.

Saying my husband's battering my husband's physical violence only proves that he loves me. Physical abuse is hisway of showing that he loves me.

He's jealous, romantically jealous, that drives him to beat me up because he loves me.

Contradiction solved. Contradiction gone.

Mutual exclusivity dissolved.

A and not A suddenly become true. Not only true but they buttress each other. They support and prove each other. They become evidentiary.

And finally the last solution is the defensive solution.

Both A and not A are valid but only A applies to me while not A applies to others or may apply to others.

This is a splitting solution. I'm going to repeat it because it's also very common especially among people whose mental health is how to put it gently questionable.

So the defensive solution is both A and not A are valid but only A applies to me so there's no problem. There's no contradiction. There's no clash or conflict.

What about not A?

If it is valid, equally valid, why doesn't it apply to me?

Because it applies to other people.

And this is known as splitting. I'm all good. They are all bad. I'm abusing someone but he's bad. He deserves it. I am acting as an abuser but I'm still a good person.

And this is known as reactive abuse.

So we are executing a murderer. Killing someone is bad but killing a murderer is good. So A applies to me, not A applies to someone else. They are both valid, but not to me. Not as far as I'm concerned. Not A is bad. Not A is bad. That's why it applies to other people and not to me.

This is of course projection. Not A is evil. It should be eradicated in other people but they have the problem. This is a form of splitting and moralitically. I'm all good. They are all bad. I'm all white. They are all black. This is very common in identity politics, in victimhood movements, in social activism and in self-appointed vigilantes and justice fighters.

The idea is that by eliminating not A in other people, we restore A to its rightful place as the sole viable ethical and moral alternative.

And this is known as reaction formation. I behave in a vicious malevolent way. That's true.

But I'm doing this in order to eliminate a much bigger evil. Much bigger evil. I'm doing this for the common good. And I'm attacking evil and abusive people, abusively and viciously because I'm on a moral crusade.

And this is reaction formation. It's denying what's in you by attacking it in others.

So if you are homosexual, a latent homosexual, you would be homophobic. You would say, I'm attacking homosexuality. It's immoral. It's horrible.

But of course, it's only because you have homosexual inclinations and proclivities. You are latent homosexual. You are denying it in yourself by attacking it in others.

So as you see, the defensive resolution of dissonances involves multiple pathological defense mechanisms, such as splitting, projection and reaction formation.


Now cognitive dissonance is only one of a family of dissonances. I'm going to describe briefly all of them and you can take the same five solutions and apply them to each of these other types of dissonance.

Start with a volitional dissonance, not cognitive, volitional.

Volitional dissonance is when we act in ways which are perceived to be a critic, immoral, antisocial rather than frenetic.

When we perceive our actions to have been the outcomes of a crazier, a crazier means when you have a weak will, when you misbehave contrary to your own best judgment, when you're weak.

So when we perceive our actions to have been the outcomes of weakness, personal weakness or weakness of character known as a crazier, when we perceive our actions to have defied and flown in the face of freeness is good judgments, good judgment, excellence of character, habits conducive to a good life, he would be ammonia, practical virtue.

So when we perceive our own actions as the outcomes of weakness of character and denial of ethics, good judgment and the good life, the ethical life, then we develop dissonance.

Even hardened criminals develop volitional dissonance. That's why they keep justifying their behavior.

Dissonance is intolerable. We resolve it by using a variety of mostly alloplastic psychological defense mechanisms.

We blame others, displace, rationalize, and we use narrative solutions such as reframing.

We also tend to externalize the locus of control. We say it wasn't our fault because it wasn't my fault. I couldn't do anything about it. I didn't have agency, self-efficacy, self-control, autonomy or free will in this matter. It was imposed on me. There was nothing else I could have done. It wasn't my fault. Something or someone made me do it or inexorably and irresistibly led to what had happened. Someone else's problem and responsibility, not mine.

This is very common defense in volitional dissonance.

And then we have emotional dissonance, also known as ambivalence, experiencing two opposing emotions such as love and hate, which are elicited by the same object.

We have axiological dissonance. It occurs when two dearly upheld and deeply felt values are incompatible.

A religious soldier, his religion tells him thou shalt not kill, but his nation state expects him to kill. This would create an axiological dissonance.

Pastificism is a typical reaction.

And then we have deontic dissonance. It is a subspecies of the axiological dissonance. It's when one has two irreconcilable duties or obligations.

So a working mother, she has an obligation to her children, but she has to work three shifts because she can't survive otherwise. And she feels guilty. She feels bad. She has an deontic dissonance.

And finally, there's the attitudinal dissonance. It is an inner conflict between two internalized beliefs, attitudes, statements or propositions held to be equally true and valid.

These are all the dissonance.

And again, remember, the orthodox view, the current view is the dissonances of conflicts within a system.

My belief is the dissonances can never occur in a self-consistent system. That's Kurt Goffee's famous theorems in logic.

For a dissonance to occur, the system must compete with other systems. So parts compete with parts. Type of parts compete with types of parts. Functions compete with functions or much more likely.

Self-states compete with self-states. This competition creates a sense of dissonance.

And we use the five solutions that I've described to resolve them.

The fifth one, the defensive type of solution, is what we call mental illness.

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