The Aftermath: Cognitive Dissonance
Updated: Jul 31, 2021
Breaking up with a pathological can be extremely confusing and painful. Trying to accept that the person who claimed to love you never existed and the entire relationship is a fraud. This contradiction can cause the victim to go into denial about the pathological's true identity. This causes intrusive thoughts, anxiety, obsession and depression. Because the victim is not ready to accept the truth about her partners true identity she suffers from Cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance happens when you have conflicting views of the pathological due to his inconsistencies. While he is invested in his victim he is wearing his mask, pretending to be a soul mate and lover. Once he has lost interest in his victim the mask begins to slip and the victim is confronted with his evil truth.
The pathological man also shows inconsistencies through out the relationship that the victim has chosen to minimize, deny or justify to convince her self that he is all that he has made her believe he is. She is highly invested in her relationship with the pathological man and does not want to lose all that she has invested in the relationship.
The pathological brings to the relationship a fragmented self that is highly contradicted between good and bad behaviors. This causes the victim to develop two sets of coping skills, one for his bad behavior and and one for his good behavior. She really has two relationships going on at one time with one man and this gradually increases her cognitive dissonance or conflicting views of him.
Lets look at James good self and evil self.
Bonding yet abandoning
Ann is feeling bonded with James through sex, companionship his mirroring her needs and desires and talks of long term commitment. However at times James mask slips when he is not getting his way and he often threatens to leave or moves in with his dad for the night which makes Ann aware that at any moment James can abandoned her.
This tells Ann in one sense she is bonded and in a committed relationship (the illusion) and on the other hand she could be discarded at anytime. This makes Ann very insecure in the relationship And causes CD.
Trust vs Mistrust
James would convince Ann of his trust worthiness and how he had broken ties with all other woman he was talking to yet Ann would discover he was still active on his dating site and talking to other woman. He would always have an excuse of course "Oh Ginger is engaged to someone else" or "The dating site would not let me deactivate my account."
Again Ann does not want to lose her investment into the Illusion James has sold her on being trustworthy so she denies the evidence that he is not.
Idealize and Devalue
In the beginning James always talked about the way he was proud of Ann's wanting to go back to school and better herself, he complemented her cooking and often appreciated all the thing she did for him. As time went on James began to devalue Ann bringing up things about her past that would maker feel bad. Accusing her of cheating and lying. This not only made Ann feel bad about herself but gave James a sense of power in their relationship .
Ann started to make excuses for his behavior. telling her self that James was insecure but she was strong enough to handle it, and that she felt sorry for him. He would apologize and she was always willing to forgive him.
Other relationship contradictions:
She is pursued sexually yet treated like whore
She feels she loves yet hates him at the same time
He says he supports her yet their is no proof he does
He is generous yet cheap and selfish.
At some point in the relationship weeks, months or even years the pathological looses interest in his prey and begins to look for new supply to meet his demands and feed his inflated and entitled ego. Once his new supply is hooked his mask will start to slip completely and the victim will see the entirety of the evil behind his disguise instead of fragments as described above. This will come as a sudden and devastating shock to her because the magnitude of his reality is to hard to explain away or ignore at this point. The battle of inconsistencies inside her mind has erupted in to full blown war as she clings to her denial and tries franticly to accept his truth. At this point the victim is at the peak of cognitive dissonance that must be resolved to heal from this traumatic revelation.
Victims often deal with denial of his true self by blaming herself for the failed relationship. She will begin to ask her self . "Was I attractive enough, smart enough, work hard enough? Or Maybe I should have.....". This is a subconscious way for the victim to try and reconcile the contradictions and truth about her dysfunctional partner by blaming her self.
She will continue to move back and forth between the illusion of a loving man and the reality of a sick man. She will begin to intellectualize the fact that he is pathological and harmful but until she can emotionally accept the truth she will be torn.
I understand the pain this situation causes. Knowing that you are not to blame but clinging to the illusion you wanted so badly. I can help you. Please feel free to contact me.