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Author Topic: General Cognitive Disorders  (Read 2877 times)

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Offline Joe K

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General Cognitive Disorders
« on: December 13, 2006, 12:48:07 PM »
The following are descriptions of General Cognitive Distortions that have been identified and it is my hope that by reviewing these distortions, you will gain some insight on how complicated and intricate our thought patterns can be.  As you read these, I imagine you will see some of your own thought patterns in these distortions and there is nothing wrong with that as we all experience these distortions in our daily lives.

However, for some of you these distortions will reflect part of your reality, especially if you battle with mental health issues.  As always, they are presented because knowledge is power and the only thing that should concern you, is if you find that you are experiencing some of these distortions to the point that they are affecting the quality of your life.

If you find that to be the case, then you should consult a mental health professional.  Help is available to counter these distortions so you can reach a point of equilibrium concerning your mental state of being.  There is no shame in asking for help, only sadness if you allow such distortions to negatively impact your life.

General Cognitive Distortions

1.  All or Nothing Thinking: This type of thinking is also referred to as “black and white thinking”, meaning that you do not consider gray or in-between areas.  For example, you may tend to view situations as good or bad, rather than allowing for something to be good sometimes and bad at others.  This may apply to how you see yourself – If you are not 100% good (or right, competent, healthy, beautiful, etc.) then you must be bad.  All or nothing thinking is the underlying thinking pattern of perfectionism that often leads to self-criticism, feelings of inadequacy and depression.

2.  Overgeneralization: This involves taking one negative event and generalizing it into a chronic pattern of negative happenings.  For example, suppose Jane wakes up one day feeling especially depressed, and says to herself (and/or those around her), “I always feel so depressed I can’t do anything”.  In essence, she has evaluated all her days as being horrible based on how she feels on one day – today.  Other phrases that indicate overgeneralization “Nothing every goes right” or “EVERYTHING is ALWAYS so difficult”.  The words “NOTHING, EVERYTHING, ALWAYS, and NEVER are often signs that you are over-generalizing.

3.  Mental Filter: Mental filter is similar to overgeneralization but it has more to do with how you perceive and interpret the present.  Based on small, negative aspects of a given situation, you tend to see the whole situation as negative.  In other words, you only notice or pay attention to negative things that occur and are unable to notice any or most of the positive things that are happening to you.  When you reflect on your day are you only able to recall negative events of the day?

4.  Disqualifying The Positive: This occurs when you discount any positive experiences for one reason or another.  A good example of this is when someone gives you a compliment.  Do you automatically tell yourself, “She is just being nice” or “She can’t possibly think that”?  This is a very destructive way of thinking because it almost always involves rejecting any positive things about you resulting in low self-esteem and a poor self-image.

5.  Jumping To Conclusions: In general, you make a negative assumption about something without enough information to base you conclusion on.  Two types of thinking fall into this category.

     A.   Mind Reading: You make a conclusion that someone is feeling or thinking negatively about you without actually checking this conclusion out.  For instance, if you see someone you know at the store or at work and he does not say anything to you, you may think “he must be angry with me” or “he must not like me anymore”, when in fact it may have been that he was having a very tough day and was preoccupied with other things when you saw him.  By making this erroneous conclusion you may then do something negative to him next time you see him, for instance, intentionally ignoring him.  This sets up a negative interaction or style of communication, and your original negative erroneous thoughts become a self-fulfilled prophecy.

     B.   Fortune Teller Error: You expect that future events will turn our badly and act as if it is an already established fact.  It is as if you can see into the future and everything that is going to happen will be negative.  This type of thinking is what Murphy used in creating Murphy’s Law (If anything bad can happen it will).  As with mind reading, you may be setting yourself up for failure by a self-fulfilling prophecy, simply by thinking negatively.  For example, if you say to yourself, “I’m never going to feel better, so I might as well not even bother trying to get help”.  You can see where this will get you – probably more depressed or anxious for a much longer time, not to mention the likely consequence of feeling helpless and hopeless.

6.  Magnification or Minimization: This occurs when you magnify or catastrophize the importance of things, particularly if it was your error, and you minimize your own successes.  As with some of the other type of thinking, by magnifying up your failures or inabilities and reducing the significance of your successes or abilities, you are reinforcing a negative self-image.  How could you feel good about yourself when you make your inabilities so much bigger than your abilities?

7.  Emotional Reasoning: This involves making a conclusion based on your feelings.  For example, “I feel hopeless; therefore the future must be hopeless”.  Although this might initially make sense to you, it is actually backwards from the way things really work.  In actuality, your feelings reflect your thoughts and beliefs.  So, if your thoughts and beliefs are distorted, as is often the case, your negative feelings may become magnified.  Emotional reasoning plays a part in nearly every person’s experience of depression.

8.  Should Statements: Think about how many times you use the words: “I should, I must, or I ought to do this or that.”  People use these statements often to get them motivated to do something.  They often are based in messages you heard your parents use.  Unfortunately the consequence of these statements is usually guilt and resentment, serving to reinforce feelings of inadequacy and depression.  If you direct should statements towards others, you generally will feel anger, frustration, and intolerance, which will only increase the feelings of disappointment and depression.

9.  Labeling and Mis-labeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization in that you attach labels to yourself and/or others based on one or two errors.  For example, if you were unable to do the housework or cook for the past couple of days, you may say to yourself, “I’m a lousy mother” or if you did not do as good of a job on a project at work, as you had hoped, you might say, “I am such an incompetent person”.  Of if someone else makes a mistake you may say, “She is a total idiot”.  So based on one or two instances you give yourself or someone else a very negative label.  These labels are usually emotionally loaded and can further damage your self-image by reinforcing negative beliefs about yourself.

10.  Personalization: You blame yourself or take responsibility for an external event.  Many people take responsibility for other people’s behavior and blame themselves for events outside their control.  For example, blaming yourself for your husband’s poor presentation at work, perhaps saying things like “If only I had been able to fix him a well-balanced breakfast, then maybe his presentation would have been better”.  Perhaps even more common is taking responsibility for another person’s feelings.  For example, “I made my friend angry by deciding not to go out on Saturday night”.  These thoughts lead to guilt and usually anxiety since you are taking responsibility for things that are either out of your control or where the responsibility is someone else’s.

11.  Control Avoidance: You cannot see yourself having any control or power over what happens to you.  This distorted way of thinking involves believing that external things or other people control you.  For example, “I’m going to forget about the homework I was asked to do for therapy, there isn’t anything anybody can do anyway”.  Another example is the woman who is constantly complaining to her spouse.  She feels helpless and resentful when her spouse asks for a divorce.  She does not see that her behavior influenced the breakdown of her marriage.  This type of thinking allows you to avoid responsibility for your actions and also keep you feeling helpless and resentful.

12.  Blaming: Blaming is often associated with control avoidance in that when you avoid taking responsibility and control for your life, you are likely to blame someone else for your negative emotions.  Using the examples above, if you believe that the things I ask you to do for therapy will have no impact on your life, you are likely to blame me for not getting anything out of the experience.  The woman who is left by her spouse is likely to blame him for his leaving her.  In blaming, you are always the victim or the martyr, preventing yourself from taking control for your decisions and behaviors.

13.  Omnipotence: This distorted way of thinking usually means that you are on the defensive, constantly trying to prove that you are right.  You cannot consider other ways of perceiving things or consider another point of view because that would mean that you are wrong.  This type of thinking does not allow for you to make mistakes and prevents you from relating to others in an honest manner.

14.  Fairness Fallacy: You are guided by the belief that the world must be fair and that injustices are not to be tolerated.  The fairness fallacy is often couched in terms of conditional judgments; such as “If he loved me he would call to see how I am feeling” or “If she loved me she would take over the household responsibilities”.  Fairness is subjective and as long as you expect another person to view fairness in the same manner and treat you the way you believe is fair you will likely be disappointed.

Offline Queen Tokelove

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2006, 01:12:18 PM »

Thanks for the post. I have looked over it and there are a few ways of thinking that I use to be like and some that I saw myself falling into that type of thinking. Thanks for sharing...
Started Atripla/Ziagen on 9/13/07.
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5/7/08 CD4- 705 VL- undetectable
6/4/08 CD4- 775 VL- undetectable
8/6/08 CD4- 805 VL- undetectable
11/13/08 CD4- 774 VL--undetectable
2/4/09  CD4- 484  VL- 18,000 (2 months off meds)
3/3/09---Starting Back on Meds---
4/27/09 CD4- 664 VL-- undetectable
6/17/09 CD4- 438 VL- 439
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Offline blondbeauty

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2006, 01:19:56 PM »
Very interesting!
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Epstein Barr +; CMV +; Toxoplasmosis +; HIV-1 +.
Counts when starting treatment:
V.L.:80.200 copies. CD4: 25%=503
Started Sustiva-Truvada 14/August/2006
Last V.L.count (Oct 2013): Undetectable
Last CD4 count (OCT 2013): 52%= 933

Offline Eldon

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2006, 10:31:22 PM »
Hey Joe!

I read over the information that you have provided for us. This is some good information to be aware of as it will assist us as we walk on our journey in this life. Thanks for sharing.

"Don't Give Up, Don't Give In... Cause it is all within you to WIN!"

Offline ndrew

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2006, 05:47:23 AM »
Ha! Ha!  I read DISORDERS and started reading these and thought, "god am I fucked up..."  (DISTORTIONS makes more sense...)


Offline DanielMark

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2006, 06:45:23 AM »
I agree: knowledge is empowering.

Having some personal experience from learning about and living each of these at some time in my life, I just want to say this is really good information. Thank you for posting these.




Offline Christine

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2006, 11:30:06 AM »
Hi Joe,
Thank you for posting those. I did see myself in one, All or Nothing Thinking. You gave me something to think about today.
Poz since '93. Currently on Procrit, Azithromax, Pentamidine, Valcyte, Levothyroxine, Zoloft, Epzicom, Prezista, Viread, Norvir, and GS-9137 study drug. As needed: Trazodone, Atavan, Diflucan, Zofran, Hydrocodone, Octreotide

5/30/07 t-cells 9; vl 275,000

Offline Joe K

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2006, 01:48:09 PM »
I should have said that this list is from the APA (American Psychiatrist Association) and is used to describe the disorders shown.  I find them somewhat comforting because I am subject to so many of them, that at least I realize I am not crazy and I just need to adjust my thinking patterns.  The adjusting is the really hard part.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2006, 01:58:02 PM by killfoile »

Offline Longislander

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2006, 05:53:46 PM »
2,3,5A,8,9,14-hmm, I'm not half bad!

I did recognize my old self in some of the others, but I've grown past them.

When do you post the answer key?!?! ;)
infected 10/05 diagnosed 12-05
2/06   379/57000                    6/07 372/30500 25%   4/09 640/U/32% 
5/06   ?? /37000                     8/07 491/55000/24%    9/09 913/U/39%
8/06   349/9500 25%              11/07 515/68000/24     2/10 845/U/38%
9/06   507/16,000 30% !          2/08  516/116k/22%    7/10 906/80/39%
12/06 398/29000 26%             Start Atripla 3/08
3/07   402/80,000 29%            4/08  485/undet!/27
4/07   507/35,000 25%            7/08 625/UD/34%
                                                 11/08 684/U/36%

Offline MSPspud

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2006, 10:41:17 PM »
Thank you for posting this Joe.  I've found myself in a few of these scenarios.  Fortunately time changes those perceptions for me, but for some the wait is much longer or endless.  I will remember this post when I try to talk someone down from these distortions.

Offline heartforyou

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Re: General Cognitive Disorders
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2006, 05:44:04 AM »
Thanks Joe.

Very interesting post.
I sure recognise a lot. Specially the old me.
But knowing that it is a pattern helps should they recur in the future

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