Cognitive Distortions – Intro (Part 2)

universe 2MY THINKING?
It’s just fine, thank you very much!

PREVIOUS: CDs – Intro (Part 1)


REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

NOTE to ACoAs: Knowing what our CDs are & then correcting them, a day-at-a-time is very important to learn about  – even tho it’s not as ‘sexy’ as some topics – because keeping these ideas in mind will help counter our:
✓ frustration at the slowness of change in Recovery
✓ discomfort & awkwardness in trying out new thinking or activities
✓ self-hate for the way we’ve been functioning most of our life
✓ confusion & misunderstanding about the causes of our pain, now

A LOGICAL Argument consists of: One or more premises (assertions, hypotheses) & one conclusion that is offered in support of the claims being made – each being either a T or F declarative statement. If any one of these components is in error, the whole argument becomes invalid.

There are more than 10 major kinds of Cognitive Distortions, over 40 kinds of Bias & almost 200 Fallacies. Part 3 gives a brief look at the major CDs. These are all incorrect logical arguments used to manipulate & control. ACoAs are very susceptible to being conned by our WIC & PP, and so of course by anyone else who uses twisted thinking (advertisers, politicos, manipulative relationships…), which contributed to our not feeling safe in the world. BUT we can protect ourselves by learning to recognize them for what they are!

a. Cognitive DISTORTIONS (CDs): exaggerated and irrational beliefs which perpetuate certain psychological disorders, & can be divided into three groups: negative views about the self (‘Mind-reading’), negative views about the world at large (‘Catastrophizing’) & negative views about the future (‘Fortune Telling’).

b. Logical FALLACIES: any part of an argument that is flawed, making either a line of reasoning or the whole topic untrue. ALSO, when a seemingly plausible argument includes a mistaken idea (even if there are some valid parts) OR when we draw an incorrect hoc fallacy

EXP: A ‘post hoc’ fallacy insists on a direct cause and effect between 2 events, simply because one event preceded another:
i. I went to the jewelry store to look at rings
ii. While I was there, a masked man with a gun came in & robbed the store
iii. Since I was there before he came in, I must have something to do with the robbery!
Here the fallacy is the result of ignoring other relevant information around the 2 events – like: that my being there was an unlucky coincidence, or that the robber & I don’t know each other, or that he’s robbed other stores I’ve never been in….

• The human tendency to make systematic logic errors based on preconceived ideas, rather than evidence. They are ‘one-sided’ perspectives, favoring some outcomes over others, which interferes with the ability to be impartial & objective.  Expl of Gender Bias: ‘Boys are better at math than girls’
• Biases can come from information-processing shortcuts, including errors in: judgment, memory, or what caused something – which drastically skews the reliability of personal accounts or legal evidence. Thinking Biases can harm our ability to make proper decisions, solve problems correctly & limits our ability to learn new information or concepts.

We’ve all heard of the term placebo, which is used to identify both pleasant and harmful effects as a result of the power of suggestion (voodoo dolls that cause pain or ‘fake’ medicines that reduce/eliminate pain).  In the 1990’s the term NOCEBO (Latin for “I will harm”) came into use in medicine. It is anything which in itself is benign or neutral (like the color of a pill or a type of plant), but which can cause symptoms of illness by the suggestion or belief that it is harmful.  This belief can come from inside or outside of ourselves.

nocebo• ‘Nocebo’ was originally used to label the harmful, unpleasant, or undesirable reactions that some test subjects manifested when they were given an inert dummy drug. The very real harmful reactions were not chemically generated, but entirely due to the subjects’ pessimistic outlook and expectations.

Arthur Barsky, a psychiatrist at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found in a recent review of the nocebo literature that patient expectations of adverse treatment effects or possible harmful side-effects of a drug – played a significant role in the outcome of their care (Barsky et al. 2002)
• In another study, more than two-thirds of 34 college students developed headaches when told that is what could happen from a (non-existent) electrical current passing through their heads.

All Cognitive Distortions are mental nocebos!  Since CDs are incorrect assumptions or belief which negatively influence how we feel & act, their irrational conclusions causes untold emotional or physical injury to ourselves & others. (From ‘Skeptic’s Diary’)

NEXT: CDs – Examples


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