outline and evaluate cognitive approach to psychopathlogy

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Outline and evaluate the cognitive approach to explaining psychopathology
The cognitive approach to explaining psychopathology is the cognition precedes emotional and behavioural
responses therefore people react differently depending on their internal processes and mental disorders are
a result of faulty thought processes. These faulty thought processes and irrational thinking prevents the
individual from behaving adaptively as they therefore exert influence over emotional and behaviours which
as a consequence leads to disorders. The dysfunctional beliefs that are formed are formed in childhood
through gaining certain types of schemata such as depression. Depression is characterised by a cognitive
triad of negative schemata which is made up of negative views about one's self, the world and future. The
human mind could be compared to a computer in which we input information, process it and output it like a
computer. Within the cognitive approach is Ellis's ABC approach in which there is an activating event, a belief
is formed about the activation event and then there is a consequence of C. It does have support from
research in that it has used case studies and scientific experiments such as brain scanning techniques to
conduct its research. The conditions in which the experiments are carried out are controlled therefore
establishing cause and effect as well as controlling extraneous variables. Supporting this approach is
Gustafson in which he showed that people with disorders such as depression, schizophrenia did actually
show faulty thinking processes. Further supporting the approach is Alloy and Abrahamson in supporting the
idea that irrational beliefs may be realistic. They suggest that depressive realists tend to see things for what
they are and actually gave a more accurate estimate of the likelihood of a disaster than normal controls,
which is known as the sadder but wiser effect.But when looking at the cognitive approach it blames the
patient believing they are responsible for their own problems and recovery is only possible by changing the
way a person thinks rather than changing the actual causes of the trouble. A cognitive explanation can also
not be applied to all problems as it only tries to fix the issue ar face value rather than dealing with the actual
cause. This leads it to be determined as a very mechanistic approach in that it compares humans to
machines, with our problems caused by processing and the way in which we think. As a whole, humans are
more complex that computers and it is consequently very reductionist as it fails to acknowledge social and
motivational facots that cause a person to think in a certain way. This approach cannot explain
psychopathology in detail as it cannot be generalised to the wider human population as we are more
complex than what it accounts for.
Key Points:
Cognition precedes emotional and behavioural responses
People react differently depending on internal processes
Mental disorders a result
Faulty thoughts and irrational thinking prevents individual from behaving adaptively
Exert influence over emotional behaviours disorders
Dysfunctional beliefs formed in childhood through shematas e.g. Depression
Ellis ABC
Research support Gustafson and Alloy&Abrahamson
Sadder and wiser effect
Blames patient
Solves at face value, not cause
Mechnistic approach comparison to computers
Cannot be generalised


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