Abnormality - THE COGNITIVE APPROACH

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The cognitive model proposes that 'unrealistic' thinking is responsible for mental illness; it focuses on the individual's thought process. 

The disturbed individual is affected by disturbed thoughts.

This approach sees the individual as an active processor of information. It's the way individuals percieve, anticipate and evaluate events, rather than the events themselves which have the greatest impact on behaviour.

ASSUMPTIONS OF THE CAUSES OF ABNORMALITY:

  • Abnormality is caused by faulty thinking.
  • The cognitive model assumes that thinking, expectations and attitudes (ie cognitions) direct behaviour. Mental illness, therefore, is the result of innappropriate ie disordered thinking. The focus of not on the problem itself but the way a person thinks about it. Faulty and irrational thinking prevents the individual behaving adaptively.
  • Ellis referred to this as the A-B-C model:
    • ACTIVATING AGENT eg. sight of a large dog.
    • BELIEF either rational (the dog is harmless), or irrational (the dog will kill me)
    • CONSEQUENCE.
  • Beck called these irrational thoughts 'cognitive errors'
    • People with psychological problems tend to have more negative automatic thoughts (thoughts that occur without thinking).
    • People with psychological problems also make more inaccurate attributions (

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