Pharmacists and cognitive dissonance
When diametrically opposed views are the framework of daily reality
In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs at the same time.
Cognitive dissonance theory is founded on the assumption that individuals seek consistency between their expectations and their reality. An individual who experiences inconsistency (dissonance) tends to become psychologically uncomfortable. Since it is impossible for a thinking person to hold two mutually exclusive beliefs simultaneously, anxiety is usually the result.
When the rosy view hits the brick wall
Cognitive dissonance is inevitable in every pharmacist’s life when the establishment’s rosy view of the world collides with that brick wall known as reality. Cognitive dissonance is evident in:
• The contradictions between the chains’ claims that patient safety is their No. 1 priority and the reality that understaffing is a major threat to public safety. When the speed at which pharmacists fill prescriptions is the most pressing consideration, where does patient safety fit in?
• The contradictions between the glowing picture of drugs painted by direct-to-consumer advertising and the reality of a long list of potential side effects gabbled by spokesvoices under the happy music
• The contradiction between the fact that state boards of pharmacy demand patient counseling and the reality that they are too intimidated by the political power arrayed against them even to attempt to require the safe staffing levels that would allow pharmacists time to counsel
• The contradiction between the clinical model promoted by pharmacy schools and the all-too-frequent reality of retail sweatshops
• The contradiction between APhA’s claim that it works hard for pharmacists and the reality that pharmacists’ working conditions and staffing levels do not improve
• The contradiction between the FDA’s seal of approval and the reality that many side effects don’t even appear until after a drug is on the market
• The contradiction between the fact of a healthcare system based on drugs and the reality that prevention is safer and more effective than pills