Analysis of the salient features of Beck’s cognitive theory Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 19 May 2017

Analysis of the salient features of Beck’s cognitive theory

Beck’s cognitive theory assumes that most psychological problems arise from faulty thinking processes. The theory is centred on three factors that form what can be illustrated as a triad. Beck (1976) noted that the three factors that affect the human mind’s capabilities are thoughts, antecedent events and behavior (Figure 1). Figure 1: The foundation of Beck’s (1976) concept of the cognitive theory Source: Created from the description by Bandura (1976) A point worth noting is that these factors cannot act on their own as they do so in synergy with other factors.

For instance, behavior is affected by the environment; thoughts are affected by the self (individual); and antecedent events are influenced by the current events. Beck’s cognitive theory perceives antecedent events, thoughts and behavior to be dynamic. In addition, according to (1998), each of the three constituents of the triad is capable of affecting others. However, Beck (1976) notes that in evaluating the triad, cognition or thoughts require more emphasis.

This is because it is through thoughts that human beings are able to change their beliefs, attitudes, interpretation and perceptions in different instances. Moreover, thoughts or cognitive factors serve as a platform for filtering or appraising events. In line with this, if the human mind is biased towards one event at the expense of another, the thinking process would elicit some form of emotional and behavioral responses that would imply some problems in life. Therefore, according to this theory, the way human beings think could actually change the way they feel and behave.

The cognitive theory serves as a way of understanding and treating depression due to the approach it takes in addressing the various faculties of the mind. In addition, since it highlights issues related to mental capabilities, it is appropriate for addressing mental health issues and other instances of disorders that arise due to depression or factors such as substance use. In postulating the theory, Beck was of the opinion that depressed people often have low opinion of themselves.

Precisely, Beck suggested that depressed people believe that the world, their future, and they themselves were the causes of their depression. In addition, Beck (1998) noted that people might be faced with psychological difficulties due to occurrence of automatic thoughts, negative self-assessments and dysfunctional assumptions. Moreover, Beck connoted that automatic thoughts usually pave the way for emotions but occur considerably fast with the affected individual’s little awareness.

As a result, such individuals do not view themselves with high esteem. As an example, people affected by stress may address themselves in considerably high critical tones; they also blame themselves for every mishap that befalls them. Beck’s theory and depression Beck (1987) noted that depressed people, apart from having a low opinion of themselves, also develop schemas in their minds such as “if many people hate me then I am worthless. ” Nevertheless, such beliefs are usually primitive, overstated and rigid.

It is worthy noting that the self schemas developed in the minds pf distressed people are usually stable but latent and only discernible when they are stimulated by social stressors (for instance when a person provokes the distressed individual) (Beck, 1987). Once the distressed person is provoked, the depressive diagram in the mind of the individual becomes activated by the stress of the event (provocation) and results into a two-fold consequence (Beck, 1976). The first effect is that the content of the distressed person becomes negative.

This is characterized by a cognitive triad and the person develops negative beliefs about himself or herself, the world and the future (i. e. every aspect of the cognitive triad becomes negative). In the second phase, there is a systematic bias in the mind that characterized by distortion of information processing capability and being prone to committing errors. Although not all forms of depression are caused by stimulation of the self-schemas, Beck viewed the negative cognitive triad and negative processing of information as the intrinsic features of all depressions (Beck, 1987).

The result of the negative schema is fear for all activities by the individual. This is in spite of the fact that some activities could be easily accomplished. For instance, a negative evaluation of self worth may be “I am unworthy, I just can’t do this”; and a negative evaluation of the world or daily events may be “Everything that happens to me is just enough evidence that my world is crumbling, this world does not need me.

” On the other hand, a distressed person’s evaluation of the future may be “It seems that nothing will ever get better for me even in future. ” From the above illustration, Beck’s Cognitive Model of Depression clearly shows how early experiences in life can lead to the development of dysfunctional beliefs, which in turn cause individuals to have negative self-views, which in turn result into depression (Beck, 1987).

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