The Basics of Cognitive Theory in Relation to the Development of Abnormal Behavior

1773 Words8 Pages
Nicole Maloney

18th October 2011


Explain the basics of cognitive theory in relation to the development of abnormal behavior. Use Aaron T. Beck and Albert Ellis as theorists for reference.

If you believe the saying 'Perception is everything,' then you may well be a cognitivist. According to the cognitive perspective, people engage in abnormal behavior because of particular thoughts and behaviors that are often based upon their false assumptions.
Cognitives believe that without these thought processes, we could have no emotions and no behavior and would therefore not function. In other words, thoughts always come before any feeling and before any action.
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Therapists’ help patients realize that their own beliefs contribute greatly to, maintain, and even cause their psychological problems (Stefan, 2011).
Stefan added that this approach leads patients to realize the irrationality and rigidity of their thinking and encourages them to actively change self defeating beliefs and behaviors. Ellis initially named the treatment Rational Therapy, the Rational Emotive therapy, and finally Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy to stress the interrelated importance of cognition, behavior, and emotion.
Like all theories, the cognitive perspective is not free from criticism. First, behaviorists see this theory as weak due to the abstract nature of thoughts and the difficulty in defining them. What may be seen as self-critical by one researcher may look like a rational remark by another.
Second, there is no agreed upon definition or application of the theory. It is seen as fairly new and while it receives a great deal of research, the underlying theory of personality development is weak at best. So while it may have very positive outcomes in treatment, it does not provide a solid understanding of development. For the neo-Freudian, this might mean that cognitive therapy is only a temporary approach and does not address the real reason behind a personality issue. [ (Christopher, 2004) ] As you read, the basic premise behind cognitive theory is the idea that the way we think about or perceive ourselves and others, determines how
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