© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Many notions of interprofessional collaboration appear to aim for the ideal of trouble-free co-operative communication between healthcare professionals. This study challenges such an ideal as too far removed from the complex and contested relations of power that characterise the albeit skilful everyday social interactions which take place within healthcare practice, along with the associated pragmatic compromises made by disempowered practitioners. It is noted that these may be facilitated by modes of comforting myth and denial. To underline this point, psychiatric illness diagnosis is used as an illustrative example of how a historically powerful societal discourse can become thoroughly entrenched. The influence of a paradigmatically dominant discourse is shown to extend beyond the repetition of narrative within open dialogue and debate and to continue as tacitly reflected patterns within unconsciously habituated behaviour and durable artefacts that crystallise future affordances and limitations on action. However, the authors conclude by introducing optimistic theoretical speculation around the dynamic social mechanics of reflexive awareness and creativity, as these emerge within moments of significant dissonance between dialectically interacting layers of individually internalised and contextually embedded discourse, conversation and direct experience.