Outline and Evaluate the Cognitive Approach to Psychopathology

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The cognitive approach to psychopathology focuses on the theory that abnormality is caused by faulty cognitions about ourselves, others and our worlds. Our behaviour is controlled by these cognitions, consequently if these are faulty, it can cause abnormal behaviour. In 1962 Ellis proposed the A-B-C model. This suggests that a certain behaviour will first start with an activating event (such as seeing a large dog). This will then lead to a belief that is either rational (e.g. 'the dog is harmless') or irrational (e.g. 'the dog will attack me'). Lastly this belief will lead to a consequence where rational beliefs will lead to healthy emotions (e.g. amusement or indifference) whereas irrational beliefs will lead to unhealthy emotions (e.g. fear or panic). Ellis claimed that irrational beliefs can lead to negative and inappropriate emotions. In 1967 Beck indentified the cognitive triad which consisted of three main cognitive biases that lead to disorders such as depression; a negative view of the world, a negative view of themselves and a negative view of the future. These biases interrelate and tend to perpetuate someone's depression. He also suggested errors in logic could be a reason for someone to behave abnormally. This concerns the way in which someone sees an event in the past, present or future. Examples of irrational thinking that both Ellis and Beck proposed are catastrophizing (wildly exaggerating the negative aspects of an event), polarized thinking (seeing everything in extreme terms), and overgeneralization (drawing conclusions based on a single event). This approach is supported by Burt et al who asked participants to recall a list of words. He found that depressed participants recalled more negative words. This is research evidence to support that there is a cognitive bias and irrational thinking in disorders such as depression. Therapies

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