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Basic False Value Judgments of Certain Personality Disorders

In The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Donald Robertson demonstrates that the origins of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be found in Socratic philosophy, particularly in Roman Stoicism. It seems to me, after reading the book, that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Stoicism can best be seen to meet in CBT's use of the concept of belief, specifically Albert Ellis's use of"irrational beliefs," and Stoicism's use of the idea of false judgments of value as applied to externals. That, or how, these two ideas are related is stated by Robertson (pg. 120):

"The irrationally rigid demands ["irrational beliefs"] which REBT warns against, which are similar to the "rules" and "assumptions" in Beck's Cognitive Therapy, also bear a striking resemblance to the unconditional value judgements which Stoics believe are at the root of emotional distress. For the Stoics, it is the tendency to judge things as being inherently or absolutely good or bad which leads to irrational cravings (epithumia) or fear (phobos), respectively. In Stoic psychology, irrational desire, or craving, which places too much value on external things and other people's opinions, is the root cause of anxiety. Believing that "I have to" have (or avoid) something, or that other people "must" behave (or not behave) in a certain way, as REBT would put it, is tantamount to saying that these things are of overriding importance in themselves, or absolute external values, as Stoicism would put it."

In Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders, Aaron Beck presented in a table the "Basic Beliefs and Strategies Associated with Traditional Personality Disorders". I've added what I think are the implicit false value judgements which underly those beliefs and strategies.

Personality Disorder. Basic belief/attitude. [False value judgment] Strategy (overt behavior).

Dependent. "I am helpless." [It is bad that I have no one to help me.]. Attachment.

Avoidant. "I may get hurt." [Getting hurt would be bad.] Avoidance.

Passive-Aggressive. "I could be controlled." [Being controlled would be bad.] Resistance.

Paranoid. "People are dangerous." [People are a threat to me, and that is bad.] Wariness.

Narcissistic. "I am special." [It is bad when people don't treat me as special.] Self-aggrandizement.

Histrionic. "I need to impress.[It would be bad if I were not able to impress others.] Dramatics.

Obsessive-Compulsive. "I must not err." [Mistakes are bad.] Perfectionism.

Antisocial. "Others are to be taken." [It's good to get the best of others, but bad to be bested by them.] Attack.

Schizoid. "I need plenty of space." [Solitude is good; having to be with others is bad.] Isolation.

Basic False Value Judgements of the Types

Aaron T. Beck, Arthur Freeman, Denise D. Davis (2003). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: Guilford

Donald Robertson (2010). The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy. London: Karnac.


Key to the Stoic Philosophy of Epictetus


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