Sari Fine Shepphird

Here are some of the problematic distortions:

  • All-or-nothing thinking
  • Catastrophizing
  • Mind reading
  • Personalizing
  • Shoulds, musts and have-tos
  • Comparisons

2 thoughts on “Sari Fine Shepphird

  1. shinichi Post author

    All-or-nothing thinking. Many of you are probably familiar with this one. It’s the idea that things are either black or white, right or wrong. There are no shades of gray. Shepphird’s example is “I am a failure because I ate too much today.” In other words, you’re either good because you restrict, or bad because you had a second helping. Or you either diet or binge. (Some “health” magazines perpetuate this type of thinking by telling us that if we don’t diet and abide by strict food rules, we’ll become ravenous beasts and inevitably eat everything in sight.)

    Catastrophizing. Here, you assume the worst in a situation. For instance, Shepphird writes, “If I binge again, I have no hope of getting better.” Another example would be “I feel so bad about my body today; I’m never going to have a positive body image.” Basically, you create a mountain out of a molehill.

    Mind reading. You assume you know what people are thinking. If you remember, I talked about this in my post on not fitting in at the gym. I pretended to be a psychic who could read every gym-goer’s mind. I knew they thought I was some impostor and didn’t belong. (Of course, I didn’t know that but I convinced myself that I did.) People with body dysmorphic disorder often mind-read. They believe they know that others are thinking negatively about their appearance (e.g., “I just know that person is disgusted by my big nose.”)

    Personalizing. This involves reading into others’ behaviors. You assume that someone’s actions are in response to you. Shepphird gave this example: “He went out with his friends because he thinks I’m dull.” Or “My boyfriend didn’t hug me because he thinks I look horrible today.”

    Shoulds, musts and have-tos. Like all-or-nothing thinking, this cognitive distortion is all about rigidity. Shepphird shares several quintessential examples: “I should not eat the other cookie,” or “I have to be the one who gets straight A’s.”

    Comparisons. So many of us compare ourselves to others, whether it’s their supposedly magical life, personality or appearance. How often have you assumed that someone didn’t finish their meal because of their powerful willpower? I have! Shepphird gives that scenario as an example. She writes, “She didn’t finish her plate; she must have more willpower than I do.” Other examples: “She’s in much better shape than I am.” Or “She was able to recover from her eating disorder must faster.”


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