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Behavioral/Social Learning or Cognitive Approach to Personality - Essay Example

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Understanding Depression from the Cognitive Approach to Personality. Submitted By: Institute: Depression             Depression has been occurring in humans perhaps as far as history goes.  It was diagnosed long ago by Greeks as ‘melancholia’, the disorder characterized by low mood and lack of energy to conduct daily life activities…
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Behavioral/Social Learning or Cognitive Approach to Personality
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Download file to see previous pages Depression may manifest itself in several forms. DSM distinguishes among various types of depression. The basic features of depression are low mood, lethargy and lack of interest in daily life activities. At least five of following symptoms must be present in an individual for a two week period to classify as a depressive episode: depressed mood, diminished interest in activities, significant appetite/weight loss or gain, insomnia or excessive sleep, feelings of guilt/ worthlessness, diminished ability to think and concentrate and recurrent thoughts of death/suicide (DSM IV, 1994; cited in Alloy, 1999). There can be multiple causes of depression and each approach to psychology offers a unique etiology of depression; however, it is usually triggered by a tragic, extremely stressful or sad event like the death of a near one, an acute injury/accident, prolonged or severe physical illness or a near death experience (Alloy, 1999). Depression can be life threatening and depressive patients are also often at risk of committing suicide. Depressives have frequent thoughts of death and suicide; since depressives often attempt suicide, therefore the disorder must be attended to immediately and be taken very seriously (Alloy, 1999). The cognitive approach According to Alloy (1999), cognitive psychology is the study of how people perceive, learn, remember and think about information they are exposed to. The cognitive approach to psychology therefore explains human psychology on basis of data processing of information that goes on in the mind. The cognitive approach to psychology claims that all mental processes go on according to the mental constructs in the mind and humans perceive everything around them in light of the information they draw from these constructs. These constructs are called schemas. Schemas are basically the cognitive representations of things and persons (Burger, 2008). Schema is analogous to a mental category, a file or folder for a set of similar data. For example, based on experience and information, a person creates the dog schema: an animal which barks and has four legs and a tail. After that, every memory of a barking animal that has four legs and a tail will be stored in the dog schema; and will not be mixed with a cat that also has four legs and a tail but does not bark (Alloy, 1999). According to the cognitive approach, with the development of mind and past experiences, humans create mental percepts or schemas about everything in their experience and knowledge. These schemas play an important role in future behavior. Based on perceptions developed according to these schemas, human mind generates automatic thoughts; and things, persons, events etc are thus perceived in the light of mental percepts. Therefore, the mind works by creating different categories of things and events and attempts to fit each new experience into an existing schema (Alloy, 1999). Cognitive approach to depression One of the founders of the cognitive approach to psychology, Beck has proposed a comprehensive theory; rather a model which explains depression. According to the cognitive approach, depressed individuals have stable, negative self schemas which develop during early stages of learning. These negative self schemas make persons view themselves negatively and perceive all events ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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