Personality Cognitive Psychology Essay
The central thesis of this article is that Cognitive behavioral therapy should be central in management of anxiety disorders and depression.
According to Quinlan and Dyson (2008), cognitive psychology is considered as the study of how internal mental processes affects or directs one’s behavior. In other words we are what we think. This internal processes include attention, language, memory, perception and language. Anything that affects this internal processes will therefore affects one personality in one way or the other. And it also true that if we can control the internal process we can control behavior especially maladaptive behaviors.
The assertion for this approach is that our thoughts control our behavior. Our habitual thinking patterns produces behavior that is characterized as our personality. The theory saw the birth of cognitive behavioral therapy that has proven very effective in managing patients with phobias and anxieties.
In 1848 Phineas Gage survived an accidental explosion in which a 3 foot long rod was punched through his skull. This injury affected a site of internal mental process or what is also called the association areas in the cerebral cortex. His physical recovery was quick to the astonishment of everyone about him but not his mental recovery. He had a change in personality shifting from being a very responsible family man and employee to being shifty and irresponsible both at work and in the family. The spike destroyed most of his frontal cortex an area believed to be responsible for rational decision making. This case proves that there are specialized areas in the brain that are responsible for making rational decisions. If these areas are damaged personality changes ensues. This goes on to show that internal mental processes affect personality. (Feldman, 2004)
Another evidence for cognitive personality psychology is an obsessive compulsive behavior classified under the DSM-IV Axis II as an anxiety disorder. Obsessions are thoughts that a person cannot stop thinking while compulsions are the action that person may do in response to their obsessions. An approach to tackling this disorder is cognitive behavioral theory. A study by Repov and Baddeley (2006), proved that this approach results in longer remission of the condition than when medications are used. This proves that the fault in cognition was bringing about the behavior and that changing that behavior through cognitive therapy changed the behavior. The approach taught the patient to unlearn the maladaptive behavior thus affirming that internal mental process affect behavior.
Mowrer a psychologist found a better way of undermining false beliefs that later on influence behavior. He came up with exposure therapy in which people were exposed to their phobias in a relaxed non anxiety provoking situation. An example would be if someone was afraid of spiders they will be exposed to spiders in such away as not to produce anxiety. Eventually the patient will learn not to fear spiders. This too confirmed that this person’s fear of spiders was a product of their internal mental process that is their thoughts (Gentner, 2010).
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome have reported improvements in pain bloating and anxiety following cognitive behavioral therapy. This positive effects last long after termination of therapy. A study by Billing (2002), found out that the upside of this form of therapy is that the patient learns the techniques so that he can go on enjoying its benefits without harmful side effects of drugs. This also proves that thoughts contribute to our general well-being. And it follows that other disorders can also benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy.
My problem of focus is Cognitive Therapy for depression and anxiety disorders. According to cognitive psychology a person mood is a product of dysfunctional thinking. Cognitive therapy helps a person recognize negative patterns of thought. Patients diagnosed with major depression are usually managed using antidepressant of which some may take weeks to produce any noticeable effects. Some of this patients stop taking this medication due to their intolerable side effects.
Cognitive therapy is the alternative in management of some of this cases of major depression. In his book the feel good handbook Dr. David Burns discusses some of the cognitive distortions than can result in the wrong or pessimistic appraisal of an event leading to stress and depression. He identified some of the cognitive distortions. Firstly he discussed the all –or nothing thinking distortion in which a person sees thing in terms of all or nothing. For example a student who flunks a cause thinks of himself as a failure in life because life according to them is black or white (Burns, 1999).
Secondly he identified magnification as another thought distortion. In this he argues that the consequence of something can be exaggerated thus making it seem more serious than it actually is. Even the person could be having adequate resources of coping with the situation their perception may disempower their coping mechanisms result depression in some instances (Burns, 1999).
He also discusses the issue of overgeneralization as another thought distortion in which one negative event is perceived as a string of never ending negative events.
Another thought distortion is jumping to conclusions. In this case a person may predetermine that an event will turn out badly even without waiting to let the event happen first. In addition to that he also discusses emotional reasoning as another thought distortion.
Other thought distortions he discusses are filtering and Shoulds. In filtering the person only sees the negative in their lives while in shoulds the person has a very high moral code that is practically unattainable.
Since according to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy thoughts affect our moods I would argue that many a times the thought controlling our mood could be distorted as evidenced by the above examples. And if it’s true that thought affect our mood then we can choose to think thought that will have a positive impact on our moods. Through cognitive behavioral therapy patients can be taught to recognize distortions in their own thoughts that could be affecting their moods. Negative distorted thought result in poor stress coping mechanisms this downward spiral eventually results in depression (Squires & Caddick, 2012).
I argue for increased use of cognitive behavioral therapy in management of depression in combination with other forms of therapy such as behavioral therapy. This therapy has proven effective in managing a range of disorders (Padesky & Mooney, 2012).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is goal oriented. It can be done in groups or individually with facilitation from a trained therapist. Usually the problem and its thought distortions are identified and addressed. Its approach is educational so as to empower the patients or clients to be able to use the methods for both the current and future issues (Carlbring et al., 2007).
It uses the A-B-C model. A famous proponent of this model is Dr. Albert Ellis. A represent action or an event, B represent belief and C represents the consequence. This model says that it’s not what happens to someone that affects them rather it is what they think about what happens to them that affects them.
The client is also taught better problem solving techniques and home assignment are given by the therapist to help reinforce learning. It employs various strategies such as Socratic questioning, guided imagination, and role playing among other techniques to help get to root distortions and address them. People are taught to challenge their negative assumptions and to take up more adaptive techniques of coping with life challenges.
In conclusion given the work that has been done and is still being done by cognitive psychologists, I believe that Cognitive behavioral therapy has come of age and should always be incorporated in management of depression and anxiety disorders. The reason for this assertion is that the therapy has positive residual effects and the patient is also taught on how to employ it given these diagnoses tend to recur.
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Carlbring, P., Gunnarsdóttir, M., Hedensjö, L., Andersson, G., Ekselius, L., & Furmark, T. (2007). Treatment of social phobia: Randomised trial of internet-delivered cognitive-behavioural therapy with telephone support. British Journal of Psychiatry, 190, 123–128.
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Padesky, C. A., & Mooney, K. A. (2012). Strengths-Based Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: A Four-Step Model to Build Resilience. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 19, 283–290. doi:10.1002/cpp.1795
Quinlan, P., & Dyson, B. (2008). Cognitive Psychology. Psychological review (Vol. 118, p. 744).
RepovŠ, G., & Baddeley, A. (2006). The multi-component model of working memory: Explorations in experimental cognitive psychology. Neuroscience, 139, 5–21. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.12.061
Squires, G., & Caddick, K. (2012). Using group cognitive behavioural therapy intervention in school settings with pupils who have externalizing behavioural difficulties: an unexpected result. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. doi:10.1080/13632752.2012.652423