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The concept of cognitive dissonance is almost self explanatory by its title: ‘Cognitive’ is to do with thinking (or the mind); while ‘dissonance’ is concerned with inconsistencies or conflicts. Naturally, people do not like the discomfort of conflicting thoughts; this theory proposes that when this happens, people have a motivational drive within them that allows them to rationalize and change their attitudes, beliefs, values and actions, anything that allows them to reduce or dissolve the dissonance they are experiencing (i.e Which makes my bum look smallest? When it comes to victims of abuse, there are several behaviours that a victim may use for reducing their cognitive dissonance.

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The controlling narcissistic environment puts the victim in a dependency situation, where they experience an extreme form of helplessness which throws them into panic and chaos.

The narcissist creates a perverse form of relationship wherein the victim has no idea of what will happen next (alternating between acts of kindness or aggressive raging).

This prolonged torturous situation is likely to trigger old negative scripts of the victim’s childhood internal object relations (attachment, separation and individuation).

Stockholm syndrome involves the victim paradoxically forming a positive relationship with their oppressor; this is called “Trauma Bonding”.

When victims of narcissistic are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, they are often seen by outsiders as somehow having participated in some bizarre way that seems to support their abuse.

However, to understand how the trauma bonding occurs, it is especially relevant to understand what is involved in the decision-making and problem-solving process of the victim. If therapists are to understand the behaviour of clients who have been victims of narcissistic abuse, then it is crucial for them to appreciate why the victim combines the two unhealthy conditions of Stockholm Syndrome and Cognitive Dissonance as part of their survival strategy.When these two strategies are in place, the victim firmly believes that their relationship is not only acceptable, but also vital for their survival.They become so enmeshed in the relationship with the abuser, that they feel that their world (mental and emotional) would fall apart if the relationship ended.This explains why they fear those people who attempt to rescue them from their abuser, and how this creates the victim to develop cognitive dissonance and become protective of their abuser.Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term which describes the uncomfortable tension that results from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs (Rational Wiki).Cognitive Dissonance is a communication theory that was published by Leon Festinger 1957, a theory that changed the way in which social psychology was to look at human decision-making and behaviour.

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