PSYC 331 Lecture Notes - Learned Helplessness, Cognitive Therapy, Cognitive Bias
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PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORIES OF MOOD DISORDERS:
PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY OF DEPRESSION:
Freud; during the oral period, a child’s needs may be insufficiently or oversufficiently gratified,
causing the person to become fixated in this stage. With this arrest in psychosexual maturation,
the person may develop a tendency to be excessively dependent on other people for the
maintenance of self-esteem.
Freud hypothesized that after the loss of a loved one, the mourner first interjects, or
incorporates, the lost person’ he identifies with the lost one, perhaps in a fruitless attempt to undo
the loss. Because we unconsciously harbour negative feelings toward those we love, the mourner
then becomes the object of his own hate and anger.
The period of introjections is followed by a period of mourning work, separates himself from the
person who has died or has died or disappointed him and loosens the bonds imposed by
introjections. But the mourning work can go astray and develop into an ongoing process of self-
abuse, self-blame and depression in overly dependent individuals.
COGNITIVE THEORIES OF DEPRESSION:
Beck’s Theory of Depression:
depressed individuals feel as they do because their thinking is biased toward negative
The negative schemata acquired by depressed persons are activated whenever they encounter
new situations that resemble in some way, perhaps only remotely, the conditions in which the
schemata were learned.
An ineptness schema can make depressed individuals expect to tail most of the time, a self-
blame schema burdens them with responsibility for all misfortunes and a negative self-evaluation
schema constantly reminds them of their worthlessness.
Negative schemata, together with cognitive biases or distortions, maintain what Beck called the
negative triad: negative views of the self, the world, and the future.
The following describes the principal cognitive biases:
•arbitrary inference: a conclusion drawn in the absence of sufficient evidence or of any
evidence at all.
•Selective abstraction: a conclusion drawn on the basis of only one of man elements in a
•Overgeneralization: an overall sweeping conclusion drawn on the basis of a single, perhaps
•Magnification and minimization: exaggerations in evaluating performance.
IN Beck’s theory, our emotional reactions are a function of how we construe our world. The
interpretations of depressed individuals do not mesh well with the way most people view the world,
and they become victims of their own illogical self-judgements.
Depressed people endorse more negative words and fewer positive as self-descriptive. Second,
they have a cognitive bias; they gave greater recall of adjectives with depressive content,
especially if the adjectives were rated as self-descriptive.
depressed people take longer to colour-name words that varied in their content; neutral,
depression-oriented words, suggesting that these themes were more cognitively accessible for
A deployment of attention task to show that dysphoric and clinically depressed individuals do not
seem to selectively attend to negative or positive material but that non-depressed individuals have
a protective bias that involves diverting their attention away from negative stimuli and focusing
instead on positive stimuli.
Beck and others have found that depression and certain kinds of thinking are correlated, but a
specific causal relationship cannot be determined from such data; depression could cause negative
thoughts, or negative thoughts could cause depression.