Cognitive disorders

All or Nothing

Seeing things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you believe you are a total failure

Overgeneralization: Believing that one negative event that happens to you reflects a never-ending, hopeless pattern of defeat

Mental Filter: Picking out one negative detail from a situation, person, or yourself, and focusing on it ‘exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolours the entire beaker of water.

Disqualifying the Positive: Denying your positive experiences and feelings by discounting them (e.g., “they don’t matter,” “they are just a fluke”)

Jumping to Conclusions: Coming to a negative perception of events without any evidence to support your perception

a. Mind Reading. Thinking you KNOW what negative thing the other person is thinking or feeling without asking them. If they disagree, you believe they are lying! (e.g., If I ask them if they want to hang out and they say yes, I KNOW it’s just because they are being polite to such a loser as myself.

b. Fortune Teller. Behaving as if the feared outcome you believe is guaranteed has already happened (e.g., If I send in my resume for this job, I know I’ll get it, and then it’ll be fine at first, but a year down the line, or maybe a month, I know I will get bored and frustrated, I’ll feel stuck. But I won’t be able to leave.
So I’m not going to send in my resume at all!).

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization: Making too much of events or traits (your negative traits/experiences; others’ positive traits/experiences), OR making too little of your positive traits/experiences or others’ negative traits/ experiences (e.g., SHE is just perfect in every way, but look at me! I have flaky skin and obviously grotesque and unlovable!

Emotional Reasoning: Imagining that your negative emotions
reflect reality: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”

Should Statements: Using shoulds and shouldn’ts to get yourself going, “as if you have to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything” (Burns), and then feeling guilty and bad about yourself.

Labelling and Mislabelling: Overgeneralizing from one instance of behavior to a global personality description (e.g., you approach someone and are shot down, but instead of saying to yourself, well, maybe I didn’t handle that so well, or maybe that person just isn’t for me you concluce, “I’m a loser”).

Feeling Good,
David Burns’ Self-help book


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