Psychological Self-Help

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in life, when the self is hit with some serious loss or stress, often one
that reminds us of a loss or trauma at an early age, the old
unreasonable and destructive negative ideas suddenly take over and
dominate our thinking. It is our negative ideas that produce our
depression, not the stressful triggering event that produces our
depression. The deeper the depression, the more the negative ideas
replace rational thinking (Coleman & Beck, 1981). 
Under the influence of this primitive, negative thinking, our logic
fails us. For example, we jump to conclusions, look at only one detail
and disregard the big picture, overgeneralize from one experience,
magnify our faults and minimize our achievements, and take the
blame (see examples in next two theories). All of this adds a very dark
and gloomy shadow over our mental life. 
Research has confirmed that sad-prone people notice the negative
aspects of an event (they remember their goofs--but not other
peoples'--and overlook what they did right) and assume too much of
the responsibility when things go wrong. It has also been
experimentally demonstrated that thoughts (induced by the
experimenter) can influence feelings and behavior (Carson & Adams,
1981). Therefore, it isn't just the depressing event that makes us sad
but also every time we remember and fantasize about the
disappointing event in the past or imagine a similar thing happening in
the future, we create a more and more depressive mood. Remember,
though, negative cognition clearly accompanies depression but it has
not been proven that negative thinking is the exclusive cause of
depression; other factors may be involved in causing depression
(Barnett & Gotlib, 1988). 
Using methods much like Lewinsohn's, cognitive therapists
collaborate with the patient to get him/her to investigate the
relationship between his/her negative ideas and his/her feelings of
depression or actions. So, the therapist may ask the patient to
"investigate" whether or not he/she can start taking tennis lessons. If
he can, that is a little evidence against his belief that he/she can't
change anything. A few weeks later patients are taught to identify
their automatic negative thoughts that precede negative feelings. The
cognitive therapist does not attack the patient's irrational ideas as
being wrong. Only after the patient begins to doubt some of his/her
own negative ideas, can the validity of those thoughts (and the logic
and assumptions underlying them) be tested out and evaluated by the
patient with help from the therapist (Coleman & Beck, 1981).
Cognitive therapy notions about negative thinking overlap a lot
with the hopelessness theories, Rational-Emotive therapy (irrational
ideas), and faulty conclusions theories discussed later. 
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