Depression, Depression Distortions

Selective Abstraction

This is the process in which we take one element out of an experience, ignoring all other visible features of the situation, and conceptualizing the entire happening on this one element.

For instance, say you’re having a decent night with some people you enjoy being around. Everything is going fine and as planned. At one point, someone in the group says something that bothers you. Be it true or not, at the end of the night or perhaps the next day, when we think about this hours-long experience, all we are able to draw from it was the words that one person said.

In a already distorted mind, this could be linked to supporting features of larger issues, like low-self esteem.

To give paraphrase an example given by Beck:

imagine a woman that has been getting a sufficient amount of praise from her boss and everything is seemingly going fine. At one point, the boss asks her to discontinue making copies of a particular copy. Although her boss has been telling her she’s been doing great, she takes this simple request and conceptualizes the entire day to say something along the lines of- “He thinks my work is not good enough.”

When she goes to sleep that night, and anytime she remembers it, that one piece of the situation is all she will remember, discarding all go the good that happened with it.

And in the case of depression, further contributing to the overall downed state that seems to accompany it.

Similar to “arbitrary inference” the main trouble for this distortion is the ignoring of the more salient features of the experience, and only focusing on or accepting what the distortions allow.