Cognitive diffusion: what it is and how is it used in therapy

The concept of cognitive diffusion comes from the origins of classical cognitive theoriesWhere the focus of the therapeutic process was only on the subject’s mental processes, removing other aspects, such as innate responses to certain stimuli.

It is a technique used with the intention of modifying a patient’s negative thoughts, but not replacing them with more adaptive thoughts.

In this article, we will review what this technique consists of, as well as some practical exercises of its theories.

    What is sought in cognitive diffusion?

    Through cognitive diffusion, we try to get the subject to begin to see his thoughts as what they really are, thoughts, and not as irrefutable facts of reality. This way negative and intrusive thoughts that the individual may present would tend to lose weight specific in terms of the discomfort they generate.

    According to this idea, it is not necessary for the person to change their way of thinking, the really decisive thing for them to be able to stop suffering for them is that they understand that thinking in a certain way does not not significantly influence its reality, because as long as it does not lead this thought to action.

    Unlike cognitive-behavioral techniques, which emphasize the fact that through the process of maieutics the individual succeeds in replacing negative thoughts with more adaptive ones, cognitive diffusion techniques are proposed to maintain the same. . cancel the fusion that exists between these thoughts and the symptomatology that the patient presents. During this process, the person should come to view their unwanted thoughts as insignificant in their life.

      How does it merge with negative thoughts?

      After clarifying that the cognitive diffusion process tries to make the subject lose the weight generated by the negative thoughts that he presents, it is important to know where the fusion between the subject and the unwanted thought comes from.

      Theoretically, this kind of thinking they come from unconscious aspects, fed by the education of the person. In other words, if someone has been educated in a certain way, it is normal that during this process they are told what is right and what is wrong.

      Then when the person is fully aware that there is good and bad, good and bad, he begins to operate thoughts of opposition to the norm in his mind.

      This phenomenon is quite natural in all of us, it will only be a problem when these thoughts represent limitations for the person in important areas of his life. Thus, cognitive diffusion methods seek make the person understand the naturalness of their thoughts.

      Cognitive diffusion techniques

      Now let’s take a look at some tools that can be useful in applying this theory.

      1. State our thoughts

      When we have an intrusive thought what bothers us, we proceed to place a statement as follows; we place the thought at the end of the next sentence “I am not” or “I am”, depending on what the thought is.

      For example, if we think we are hurting an animal or someone, we just have to accept that thought as “I am not an aggressive person and I do not have to hurt anyone”.

      2. Loss of meaning

      This technique involves continuously repeating a word or phrase that comes to mind when we have negative thoughts, so that after some repetition time the word said loses its meaning. Then we have to do the same with the thought that disturbs us, until we take away its meaning, and in this way it is no longer a thought from which we are trying to escape, but we will be able to face it by repeating it constantly.

      These exercises are very helpful in moving our reality away from those intrusive thoughts that can get really boring, and if we get into a habit, it is very likely over time that the boring thoughts will go away.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Baker, DB (2011). The Oxford Handbook of the History of Psychology: Global Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.
      • Jarzombek, M. (2000). The Psychologization of Modernity Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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