Posts Tagged ‘B.F. Skinner’

(You Know Me) I’m Down with CBT

April 8, 2023

Psychology is what crazy people study in college, and it only took these geniuses a few decades to figure out that Sigmund Freud was a quack and remove his nonsense from the DSM. 

After so many years of trying to heal people by fixating on dreams, breastfeeding, and ancient mythology, the behavioral scientists finally came up with a kind of therapy that works better than the control group. It’s called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Sigmund Freud Was a Major Wackjob

For several decades, psychiatrists focused on a bunch of irrelevant gobbledygook, like the id, the ego, the superego, the five psychosexual stages of development, and just about everything else that wacky old cigar-sucking fool ever conjured up in one of his cocaine induced frenzies. (I will concede that Freud was right about ego defense mechanisms…just like that proverbial broken clock.)

Another major source of 20th century American headshrinkery was B.F. Skinner, a crazy coot who stuck his own daughter inside a box designed to train pigeons. 

Avoid Stinking Thinking

CBT, which involves reflecting on how your thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes impact your behavior, is a lot more effective than the high-falutin snake oil that Freud was selling. We can all thank Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck, and others for rescuing psychotherapy from the nutjobs who were in charge for so long.

Ellis coined the phrase stinking thinking to describe the human tendency to engage in stupid and counterproductive forms of cognition. 

Examples of stinking thinking include:

  • Over-generalizing
  • Mind reading
  • Exaggerating
  • Catastrophizing
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Dwelling on your mistakes
  • Comparing your life to other people’s lives 
  • Blaming yourself for things that are out of your control

So if you’re doing these things, just stop it! And everything in your life will get a lot better. Actually, it’s a little bit more complicated than that in practice. But the theory behind it is pretty simple.

What’s Happening Inside Your Head?

A lot of stinking thinking comes from obsessing about what other people are thinking and doing. So listen to yourself, and adjust your thinking accordingly. 

Here’s a key tip: Instead of worrying about what other people are doing, focus on your reaction to what other people are doing. And stop wasting time trying to figure out what people are thinking. They have the right to think whatever they want as long as their behavior isn’t hurting anybody. 

When somebody’s behavior puts you in a tizzy, ask yourself what it has to do with you. If someone is actively harming you, then by all means stick up for yourself and do what you can to avoid people like that. But remember: If you’re constantly getting in a huff about other people’s behavior, then you’re the one with a problem

Resentment is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die. You don’t forgive people because they deserve absolution – you forgive people because you deserve peace. Besides, you’re not God, so you could never grant someone absolution anyhow, even if they did something really shitty to you. 

There’s No Such Thing as Closure

Don’t expect the source of your hurt to be the source of your healing. Closure is an effective plot device in a lot of really lame movies. But there’s no such thing as closure in real life. Life is all about the flow. There aren’t any points where everything comes together and it all makes sense. Ob-la-di ob-la-do life goes on bra

You can’t take back the hurt you give. So try to be nice to people. 

The mistake is thinking that the people who hurt you can magically make the pain go away. They can’t. Even if the person who harmed you wrote out a full confession – signed, sealed, and notarized – accepting complete and total responsibility for everything that’s wrong with your life, you’re still going to have to find a way to process your own pain. 

Maybe you should try CBT.

by Richard W. Bray