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Dysfunctional Thinking And Cognitive Biases

Dysfunctional Thinking And Cognitive Biases

When a schema is activated, e.g. in someone who experiences perceived danger, there are cognitive biases and distortions that affect interpretations of the events. Although we all do this, it is much more common in people with emotional problems and these types of thinking help maintain the problem. Understanding these thought processes can help a person overcome their issues much easier.

Some examples are:

  • Catastrophising: believing the worst will happen
  • Overgeneralisation and Jumping to conclusions: applying conclusions based on little evidence about one event to others where they may be irrelevant
  • Dichotomous thinking: All or nothing or black and white thinking: ‘if one person doesn’t like me, no one does.’
  • Thinking feelings are facts: not understanding that feelings come from thoughts – often dysfunctional ones – and so believing that a feeling is ‘real’
  • Minimizing or maximising: e.g. minimizing ability to cope and maximising the problem.
  • Arbitrary inference: making decisions about something without enough supporting evidence
  • Selective abstraction: ignoring all available evidence, features of a situation in favour or one, negative aspect
  • Mind reading: believing we know what others are thinking about us without sufficient evidence
  • Personalising: believing everything is connected to you in a negative way, again, without evidence.


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