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> Is the cognitive therapy idea of thoughts leading to emotions accurate?
lgarvey
post Jun 12, 2010, 07:51 AM
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Hi,

This is my first post to the forum.

I am looking to research the neuroscience behind emotions and negative thinking.

I have studied cognitive therapy which emphasises the role of negative thoughts (ANTs) in creating negative emotions. So the thought of "I'm going to screw up this presentation and people will think I am an idiot" would lead to anxiety, for instance.

However I have also trained in hypnotherapy and had some exposure to therapies that are sometimes utilised in a hypnotherapeutic approach, including Gestalt therapy. In this approach the emphasis is on subconscious "fixed ideas" which a person learns at an early age as a result of the meaning they make out of negative experiences usually with significant influences (parents, sibilngs, etc.) in their lives. But the emphasis here is on the emotion + subconscious fixed idea being primary and flowing from that negative thoughts and limiting behaviours.

The theories seem to be in conflict with each other, so I want to know if one or other theory is a more accurate representation of our understanding of the way the emotional centres and thinking centres of the brain work.

Is cognitive therapies understanding of ANTs being primary in emotional disturbance accurate?

Can anyone point me in the direction of books or material that explain how the brain and emotions work perhaps in relation to some psychological and psychotherapeutic theories?

It's probably a vague and not particularly well thought out question, but I'd be interested to see if anyone can at least point me in the right direction so I can delve further!

Regards,
lg
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Cale-Construct33
post Jun 12, 2010, 08:21 AM
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Well that is a good question and one that i have been having a lot of conversations about lately. Both theories are right, and their is even more to it than that. Current research is beginning to show that their really isn't a whole lot of difference between the processes that govern emotion and those of cognition. The fact is that they are so interlinked with each other that its become difficult to tell where one begins and the other one ends.

The two views you speak of refer to a top-down and a bottom-up approach. The important thing to recognize is the reciprocal nature of emotion and cognition on each other. I came across an interesting article the other day that focused on this issue by Douglas Watt... http://www.imprint.co.uk/pdf/Beauregard_Watt.pdf

A great book to read regarding "fixed ideas" would be 'The Developing Mind' by Daniel Siegel. He dicusses how our experiences are imprinted into our brains and how we develop attachments and our own personal life narratives as children, as it is all rooted in neuroscience. And also various books by Antonio Damasio will shed light onto the fundamental nature of emotion within the brain and mind.

I hope these things might help you out! Let me know if you're looking for an further elucidation kinda in a hurry. Happy hunting!
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paperdragons
post Aug 14, 2010, 08:34 PM
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I won't be able to give quite as reasoned and, essentially, useful reply as the user above me, but I felt an urge to contribute the perspective I've developed.

From my experiences, negative emotions result from thoughts of the self and its actions being contradictory to other thoughts regarding morality, personal identity, values, etc. People strive for a cohesive sense of self, and negative emotions arise from thoughts that conflict with this cohesion.
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