Take the 2-minute tour ×
Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Depression seems to be a disruption in thought patterns. In particular, it is characterized by repetitive thoughts. Is it possible to characterize psychological diseases by looking at the logical structure of self reported thoughts?

For example, suppose Bob is depressed. He may be asked to free associate for 10 minutes. Then would counting the number of double implications be a good characterization of depression. This is a statement of the form $A \Longleftrightarrow B$.

So Bob may say things like "I am depressed because I have no friends" and "I have no friends because I am depressed." A normal person might have more statements of the form $A \implies B$. So he would say things like "I am happy therefore I should go to the gym. Going to the gym will make me stronger" etc.

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

Oh no attack of behavioralism vocabulary. But really people are not served well by this kind of grammar correction beyond the initial few session which introduce cognitive behavioural therapy. While you assume they are using your system of logic to translate the phrases from pathways in their brains they may not be. Associations with acts and feelings are tied to many things and are oft hidden unless an effort is made to find what's going on inside. Thats the reason why we perform talk therapy as part of CBT. For a while I had no friends. My social situation prevented me from venturing out. I said exactly what you so quote and is often spoken but my internal dialog which the psychologist found as we spoke was me meaning:

I feel unhappy. Why?

I am able to have friends.

Why do I not have friends?

How can I get friends?

Those options are not possible; being unable to do those makes me feel sad.

I am ok. Find other options.

It is rational to be emotional at having some of your autonomy restricted. That sadness might contribute to the illness of depression.

Likewise your second set of logic might actually be happening in the person's head as:

I am sad.

If I say I'm sad people will stigmatize me.

If I go to the gym I can escape the stigma.

If I go to the gym I can develop attractiveness.

Attractive people are happy.

Youth and strength fade prompting latent depression to emerge later when that krutch is removed.

The person who lives to do may be escaping rather than confronting problems. Psychologist must take the time to discover the inspiring internal dialog and source of behavior and ensure it is rational or at least somewhat rational. It should come from self (or perhaps divinity) rather than self characteristics.

This is a picture from the British mental health group mind and Identifying these kinds of statements and their reason could be productive without going into grammar.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer

There's no theoretical reason to believe that depression is characterized by an increase in "double implications." If anything, the double implication you've posed (depression ⟺ no friends) is a pretty accurate understanding of the reciprocal relationship between the causes and consequences of depression (e.g., Stice, Ragan, & Patrick, 2004; Teasdale, 1983). So if depressed individuals have such an insight, then we might actually expect this to facilitate mood repair and regulation.

Otherwise, to my knowledge, no studies have examined the logical structure of depressive thoughts. Perhaps you might be aware that depression is characterized by cognitive distortions, but I'm guessing that this isn't the kind of "logic" that you're referring to.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.