Author Topic: Common Cognitive Distortions  (Read 1021 times)

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Online superdave

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Common Cognitive Distortions
« on: April 30, 2019, 10:19:43 AM »
I have been reading The Coddling of the American Mind, which is a book that expands on this article in the atlantic
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

I was initially dismissive of their claims but reading the book has changed my mind, in particular they discuss a list of 9 cognitive distortions that people tend to fall into on the way to depression and anxiety.  When I reviewed the list, I found it is very similar to what we already would call the list of popular logical fallacies.  The language used in this list in reference to personal atittude but I think it's not hard to see how these atittudes coudl apply to say, deniying global warming.  I think though the authors were trying to learn something about the new PC culture on campus, they might have stumbled upon a bigger picture of how ideas are being debated online and elsewhere.  I wanted to post the list and see what people thought about it.

A partial list from Robert L. Leahy, Stephen J. F. Holland, and Lata K. McGinn’s Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders (2012).

1. Mind reading. You assume that you know what people think without having sufficient evidence of their thoughts. “He thinks I’m a loser.”

2. Fortune-telling. You predict the future negatively: things will get worse, or there is danger ahead. “I’ll fail that exam,” or “I won’t get the job.”

3. Catastrophizing.You believe that what has happened or will happen will be so awful and unbearable that you won’t be able to stand it. “It would be terrible if I failed.”

4. Labeling. You assign global negative traits to yourself and others. “I’m undesirable,” or “He’s a rotten person.”

5. Discounting positives. You claim that the positive things you or others do are trivial. “That’s what wives are supposed to do—so it doesn’t count when she’s nice to me,” or “Those successes were easy, so they don’t matter.”

6. Negative filtering. You focus almost exclusively on the negatives and seldom notice the positives. “Look at all of the people who don’t like me.”

7. Overgeneralizing. You perceive a global pattern of negatives on the basis of a single incident. “This generally happens to me. I seem to fail at a lot of things.”

8. Dichotomous thinking. You view events or people in all-or-nothing terms. “I get rejected by everyone,” or “It was a complete waste of time.”

9. Blaming. You focus on the other person as the source of your negative feelings, and you refuse to take responsibility for changing yourself. “She’s to blame for the way I feel now,” or “My parents caused all my problems.”

10. What if? You keep asking a series of questions about “what if” something happens, and you fail to be satisfied with any of the answers. “Yeah, but what if I get anxious?,” or “What if I can’t catch my breath?”

11. Emotional reasoning. You let your feelings guide your interpretation of reality. “I feel depressed; therefore, my marriage is not working out.”

12. Inability to disconfirm. You reject any evidence or arguments that might contradict your negative thoughts. For example, when you have the thought I’m unlovable, you reject as irrelevant any evidence that people like you. Consequently, your thought cannot be refuted. “That’s not the real issue. There are deeper problems. There are other factors.”
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 10:25:45 AM by superdave »
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline PANTS!

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2019, 12:49:14 PM »
Thanks for this.  I have someone close to me who has issues with anxiety, and exhibits a few of these symptoms.  I think I may print this out, and show it to them.
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Online superdave

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2019, 02:44:35 PM »
Thanks for this.  I have someone close to me who has issues with anxiety, and exhibits a few of these symptoms.  I think I may print this out, and show it to them.

A big point is that everyone does the things on this list from time to time but people who anxiety and depression do it a lot more often.
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline DanDanDan

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2019, 04:39:36 PM »
That mind reading one is deadly. Literally.

It's closely affiliated with social anxiety disorder or the fear of judgement.

EG "I fear you because of what you're thinking, there for I'm going to take action X." And there's the booby trap.

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Online Harry Black

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 05:55:46 PM »
Is it specific to Americans?

Offline John Albert

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2019, 06:51:15 AM »
Thanks for this.  I have someone close to me who has issues with anxiety, and exhibits a few of these symptoms.  I think I may print this out, and show it to them.

A big point is that everyone does the things on this list from time to time but people who anxiety and depression do it a lot more often.

I fall prey to this kind of pessimism on a daily basis. It's really hard to change old habits though.

Offline heyalison

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2019, 06:56:42 AM »
If you'd like another response to their work, please check out this very well written and constructed critique from The Guardian's book review.

Listing symptoms of anxiety and then uncritically (and without evidence) using them to support their personal theories about "PC culture out of control" is dubious at best. Much like Peterson's clean your room book, they've appropriated the language of self help to argue against cultural changes they are threatened by.

This comment from the article highlights the intellectual laziness of this approach:

Quote
Like Trump, the authors romanticise a past before “identity” but get fuzzy and impatient when history itself comes up. “Most of these schools once excluded women and people of colour,” they reflect. “But does that mean that women and people of colour should think of themselves as ‘colonised populations’ today?” You could approach this question by looking at data on racialised inequality in the US, access to universities, or gendered violence. They don’t. They leave it as a rhetorical question for “common sense” to answer.

Their narrow perception of history severely limits the explanations Lukianoff and Haidt can offer for the real problems they identify. Can you understand the “paranoia” middle-class parents have about college admissions without considering how many of their children are now downwardly mobile? How are college teachers supposed to confidently court controversy when so many of them have zero security in jobs that barely pay above poverty wages?

Just as they appear to lack a clear explanation of why the “terrible ideas” that are “harming students” have taken hold, they don’t seem to have a theory of how good ideas cause change. At one point, they note that Pauli Murray, one of their exemplars of “common humanity identity politics”, recently had a college at Yale named after her, as if this proved that in an unregulated market, the right ideas do win in the end. But Yale did not just happen to remember this law school graduate, half a century later; Yale named Pauli Murray College following countless student protests around Black Lives Matter – and after a cafeteria worker named Corey Menafee, who got sick of looking at pictures of happy slaves in Yale’s Calhoun College, put his broom through a stained glass window, and his union came to his defence.

And as always, be aware of who is signing the author's paycheque:

Quote
Lukianoff and Haidt share some benefactors and allies with the well-established right that funded Bloom and D’Souza. (Lukianoff works at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit group that receives funding from the Scaife and Olin families.)

So while these might be a useful (if a bit trite and out of context) list of issues with anxiety, that they are being presented as a context for understanding why marginalized people want justice and access to culture is pretty insulting, TBH. I suppose if people are looking to justify already-present beliefs that identity politics, cultural marxism, etc. are expressions of a coddled group of leftists trying to ruin culture, then this book will hit home and confirm a lot of biases.

(I am not saying this is the case with you, superdave. You seem pretty thoughtful in how you approach ideas. I would suggest, however, stepping back a few layers to get a view of this book in a larger context.)

Offline PANTS!

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2019, 08:42:05 AM »
Thanks for the perspective.  I hadn't read the article, I just recognized the ideations listed.
Now where I come from
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Online superdave

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2019, 09:49:48 AM »
I think the book presents their arguments much better than the article does FWIW but I don't mean to endorse the whole book.  I have some issues with it but  I will post a more full review once I finished it.
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline heyalison

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2019, 08:12:41 AM »
To be clear, I don't have any issue with this list of symptoms and how they fuel depression and anxiety. I understand them well. But that the authors then, without any evidence, make the claim that this is what's happening with marginalized people calling out their experience of oppression is some A-grade BS. It's that basic "They don't know their own mind and are mentally ill" dismissal that seems to play really well to certain audiences with investment in dismissing marginalized people. I don't think that's at all what's happened with folks on this thread, but you still have to be aware of the creep of right wing ideas into the mainstream. Even, as it is in this case, when they are being promoted by white men who otherwise claim a liberal or progressive stance.

Online superdave

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2019, 09:30:44 AM »
To be clear, I don't have any issue with this list of symptoms and how they fuel depression and anxiety. I understand them well. But that the authors then, without any evidence, make the claim that this is what's happening with marginalized people calling out their experience of oppression is some A-grade BS. It's that basic "They don't know their own mind and are mentally ill" dismissal that seems to play really well to certain audiences with investment in dismissing marginalized people. I don't think that's at all what's happened with folks on this thread, but you still have to be aware of the creep of right wing ideas into the mainstream. Even, as it is in this case, when they are being promoted by white men who otherwise claim a liberal or progressive stance.

As I said, I was initially dismissive of this article , I mainly posted it to cite my source for the list, but I have found the book to be more thorough and persausive. 
The authors pretty clearly state in the book at least that this atitude of self defeating behavior is permeating American culture as a whole and affects many people. Though the initial tipoff to this trend was debates accuring in marginalized college students, the same patterns happen across political and social spectra. And those patterns are embracing tribalism, making choices based on emotional reasoning instead of logical reasonings, reading uncharitable interpretations into things. 


I get that it can be troubling to point out how a marginalized person is using flawed logic to dsecribe a real problem.  You don't want to seem to be piling on or dismissive of their claims.  But The book is not arguing that racism is not real, it is arguing that the framework and patterns are self defeating and lead to angry unhappy and depressed people who are resistant to criticism and are closed minded.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 09:38:13 AM by superdave »
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline PANTS!

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2019, 09:39:44 AM »
To be clear, I don't have any issue with this list of symptoms and how they fuel depression and anxiety. I understand them well. But that the authors then, without any evidence, make the claim that this is what's happening with marginalized people calling out their experience of oppression is some A-grade BS. It's that basic "They don't know their own mind and are mentally ill" dismissal that seems to play really well to certain audiences with investment in dismissing marginalized people. I don't think that's at all what's happened with folks on this thread, but you still have to be aware of the creep of right wing ideas into the mainstream. Even, as it is in this case, when they are being promoted by white men who otherwise claim a liberal or progressive stance.

The irony here is that many of these ideations are ones that Incels and others like them often have.  What is worse is the "truth" of them is often brutally reinfoced by other Incels in their closed groups.  They give literal voice to these self-defeating thoughts to themselves and other who they supposedly empathize with.
Now where I come from
We don't let society tell us how it's supposed to be
-Uptown, Prince 👉

The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

Offline heyalison

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2019, 09:49:51 AM »
To be clear, I don't have any issue with this list of symptoms and how they fuel depression and anxiety. I understand them well. But that the authors then, without any evidence, make the claim that this is what's happening with marginalized people calling out their experience of oppression is some A-grade BS. It's that basic "They don't know their own mind and are mentally ill" dismissal that seems to play really well to certain audiences with investment in dismissing marginalized people. I don't think that's at all what's happened with folks on this thread, but you still have to be aware of the creep of right wing ideas into the mainstream. Even, as it is in this case, when they are being promoted by white men who otherwise claim a liberal or progressive stance.

As I said, I was initially dismissive of this article , I mainly posted it to cite my source for the list, but I have found the book to be more thorough and persausive. 
The authors pretty clearly state in the book at least that this atitude of self defeating behavior is permeating American culture as a whole and affects many people. Though the initial tipoff to this trend was debates accuring in marginalized college students, the same patterns happen across political and social spectra. And those patterns are embracing tribalism, making choices based on emotional reasoning instead of logical reasonings, reading uncharitable interpretations into things. 


I get that it can be troubling to point out how a marginalized person is using flawed logic to dsecribe a real problem.  You don't want to seem to be piling on or dismissive of their claims.  But The book is not arguing that racism is not real, it is arguing that the framework and patterns are self defeating and lead to angry unhappy and depressed people who are resistant to criticism and are closed minded.

Sorry, yes, I didn't explain myself well. I wanted to be clear I wasn't getting riled up at you, just the authors.  :)

Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2019, 03:01:03 AM »
I think Lukianoff and Haidt are trying to argue their political grievances by misusing technical-sounding terms. I get the impression that they don't have actual training in science, psychology, or CBT. It seems totally inappropriate to use diagnostic criteria from specific pathological mental conditions to describe social/political/cultural movements.

While listening to interviews of Haidt, I found it hilarious how he rails against victim mentality, and then goes on to bemoan the terrible suffering of white male tenured professors at elite universities and liberal arts colleges.

Offline John Albert

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Re: Common Cognitive Distortions
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2019, 08:55:11 PM »
To be clear, I don't have any issue with this list of symptoms and how they fuel depression and anxiety. I understand them well. But that the authors then, without any evidence, make the claim that this is what's happening with marginalized people calling out their experience of oppression is some A-grade BS. It's that basic "They don't know their own mind and are mentally ill" dismissal that seems to play really well to certain audiences with investment in dismissing marginalized people. I don't think that's at all what's happened with folks on this thread, but you still have to be aware of the creep of right wing ideas into the mainstream. Even, as it is in this case, when they are being promoted by white men who otherwise claim a liberal or progressive stance.

The irony here is that many of these ideations are ones that Incels and others like them often have.  What is worse is the "truth" of them is often brutally reinfoced by other Incels in their closed groups.  They give literal voice to these self-defeating thoughts to themselves and other who they supposedly empathize with.

Isn't it weird that instead of seeking self-empowerment or striving to reform themselves into something better, these young men have willfully resigned themselves to failure and organized around a victim culture celebrating the identity of being an unlovable, pathetic loser? 

It seems to be a confluence of the culture of toxic masculinity, the fraudulence of the "PUA" movement, their own lack of self-esteem, and the isolation of Internet addiction. But still, it's just bizarre.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2019, 02:06:34 PM by John Albert »