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Unread January 31st, 2005, 10:59 PM
James Pretzer James Pretzer is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Default A few more thoughts

First, note that when I talk about cognition occurring on a level that is non-conscious and automatic, I'm not talking about non-conscious language I'm talking about cognition that is not mediated by language and that generally operiates outside of awareness. These are the appraisal processes that Richard Lazarus discussed in his 1966 book. I believe that cognitive psychologists have researched these processes quite a bit over the intervening years and that Lazarus' research holds up well.

We're not talking about the Freudian unconscious where psychoanalysts argue that formerly conscious thoughts, feelings, memories, and impulses are repressed through various defense mechanisms. We're talking about basic cognitive processes that have been around long before humans developed language.

You may be right in saying that Ellis doesn't talk about this. At the moment I'm talking about Beck's point of view.

Second, we're not moving in the direction of declaring that this is all an art, not a science. This discussion is based on a large body of research, or actually several bodies of research. Cognitive psychologists have done decades of laboratory research into the basic cognitive processes involved, social psychologists have done quite a bit of research into social cognition that is also quite relevant, clinical psychologists and psychiartists have done literally hundreds of outcome studies (go to for a concise summary). Part of the problem is that there is more relevant research than one can easily keep track of, another part of the problem is that many clinicians know little about the basic research that provides a foundation for CBT. NIMH published a good overview titled Basic Behavioral Science Research for Mental Health: A National Investment (NIH Publication #96-3682). I believe the url for it is however, I can't connect to it at the moment.

Third, you are quite right to be skeptical about subjective assertions that a particular therapy "works." However, with CBT I'm not simply expressing subjective convictions or being impressed by a few remarkable case examples. We have a large body of outcome research that show that CBT produces real changes that last. It is true that many of these studies are done by proponents of CBT but there also are many done by teams that include proponents of other approaches and a few studies done by critics of CBT.

Finally, I'm not circumventing your question about whether the presence of basic affects at birth proves that affect is primary. I haven't had time to get to that one yet but I plan to. Unfortunately, tonight it is late and the book I need to cite is upstairs but I'll try to get to that question soon.
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