Knowledge has been the subject of different controversial theories in psychology; recently the idea that knowledge is grounded in the modal systems of the brain has gained considerable evidence. This paper discusses applications of the grounded cognition theory to irrational beliefs, a main concept of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), proposed as core cognitive vulnerabilities for emotional disorders. Irrational beliefs, as grounded maladaptive emotional knowledge structures are considered the result of interactions between linguistic representations and simulations in motivational and emotional brain processing circuits. It is proposed that irrational beliefs (e.g., demandingness) are represented by distorted simulations in motivational and emotional brain processing circuits that bias the online processing of activating events. This biased emotional processing generates emotional disturbance. A three-level model of irrational beliefs is presented. The impact of irrational beliefs on emotions can be analyzed at the verbal or linguistic symbols level, at the simulations and modal symbols level and at the level of relations between verbal symbols and modal symbols. Maladaptive mechanisms and proposed corrective cognitive interventions are analyzed at each level. We conclude that a grounded perspective on irrational beliefs increases the explanatory power of the REBT theory of emotions.
Cognitive psychology research as a tool for developing new techniques in cognitive behavioral therapy. A clinical example
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is based on the premise that human psychological problems stem from maladaptive cognitions. One of the most important tools used in CBT is cognitive restructuring that aims to change maladaptive cognitions and replace them with more adaptive ways of information processing. However, maladaptive thinking patterns are sometimes so strong and automatic that they tend to persist and bias the process of acquiring new adaptive ones. The goal of this article is to illustrate the development and implementation of two cognitive techniques for blocking the impact of mental contamination during cognitive restructuring by using fundamental research findings from cognitive psychology. After a brief introduction concerning relevant aspects in the literature, we describe two techniques hypothesized to control mental contamination: (a) the rational anticipation technique and (b) the incompatible information technique. The final section of the article focuses on illustrating the implementation of these techniques based upon a clinical case conceptualization.