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Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Fake it til you make it" and Emotional Reasoning:

Current mood: cynical

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I've been thinking about Cognitive Behavioral therapy and its practice of recognising so-called 'Cognitive Distortions' for quite some time and I've concluded something rather strange.

A core mechanism of CBT is recognising patterns of thought that are considered destructive. So what if they're destructive? That doesn't make my thoughts any less legitimate. CBT answers this by asserting that these destructive patterns of thought are irrational, and explains in detail about why.

Fair enough. But there's one particular cognitive distortion that is labelled as irrational and I fail to understand why. It's called 'Emotional Reasoning.'

Emotional Reasoning is a thought pattern of believing that something is true because of the way we feel about it. That if we believe that we are terrible people, that we most certainly are terrible people. That if we believe that we are anxious, then we must be anxious. Regardless of any evidence that such is presently the case.

But let's take that idea one step further. 

CBT therapists use a variety of techniques that provide people with positive reinforcement as well as recognising cognitive distortions. And a very, very popular instrument that these therapists use to promote the former is the notion of, "Fake it till you make it."

'Fake it til you make it' follows the basic premise that if ones believes that they are confident, then they are indeed, confident. If they believe that they are fulfilled, then they are indeed, fulfilled. It is supposed to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that promotes positive thoughts through self-belief.

Gee, where have I heard that line of emotional reasoning before? 

It begs the question; if these therapists are actively discouraging Emotional Reasoning on the grounds that it is irrational, then what makes it mutually exclusive from the above? They're using identical lines of reasoning as one another, so what makes 'Fake it til you make it' so rational (or so encouraging the practice would imply) as opposed to Emotional Reasoning?

My answer:

I don't buy the premise that Emotional Reasoning is irrational, because doing so makes psychology fall victim to this self-imposed fallacy. Is the grounds of its legitimacy simply that it makes the patient feel good about themselves? If that's the case, then it fails miserably.

How can a science like psychology that's meant to constantly check its own claims for consistency with previously established information support a practice like this?

I've spoken to a psychologist I'm seeing on this issue and all they said was, "Then perhaps such a method of self-help is not for you."

How embarrassing.

Can anybody provide some insight into this problem? I don't understand what makes these two things mutually exclusive.
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