[Skip to Navigation]
October 1963

Thinking and Depression: I. Idiosyncratic Content and Cognitive Distortions

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1963;9(4):324-333. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1963.01720160014002

The clinical and theoretical papers dealing with the psychological correlates of depression have predominantly utilized a motivational-affective model for categorizing and interpreting the verbal behavior of the patients. The cognitive processes as such have received little attention except insofar as they were related to variables such as hostility, orality, or guilt.1

The relative lack of emphasis on the thought processes in depression may be a reflection of—or possibly a contributing factor to—the widely held view that depression is an affective disorder, pure and simple, and that any impairment of thinking is the result of the affective disturbance.2 This opinion has been buttressed by the failure to demonstrate any consistent evidence of abnormalities in the formal thought processes in the responses to the standard battery of psychological tests.3 Furthermore, the few experimental studies of thinking in depression have revealed