Overgeneralisation: Cognitive Distortions

How you think can have a lasting impact on mood, and it can influence one’s view of reality , as our world is reflected by our thinking. When we become self-critical with negative thoughts, this can lead us to a negative image of ourselves.

The term ‘Overgeneralisation’: refers to viewing a negative event as a pattern of your life. Because of the fact we connect new experience to past ones, it is common for us to generalise based on our past experience.

An example in ‘The Layers’, is in when Andie is cooking and she is being distracted by Alison. Alison, who is Andie’s ego, rips pages of a book more and more frantically, which makes Andie irritated to the point of stopping what she’s doing, to tug the book out of Alison’s hands. Andie becomes upset because of the tempered way she is provoked by Alison. Thus, Andie believes that she is a failure because Alison is able to easily wind her up.

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Above: Andie feeling defeated

Another example of Cognitive Distortion is ‘Arbitrary Influence’. An example is during the office scene, where Andie believes she is incompetent, due to the fact that she struggled to pick up the phones in time. This thought is further reinforced, when Jessica rescues the situation by answering the phone, which causes Andie to believe that she’s a failure. This is illustrated by Andie not being able to carry on with her work tasks, and hunching over.

An additional example of Cognitive Distortion is ‘Personalisation’. Another example in the office scene, is when Andie believes that her supervisor is cross with her, because when she enters the room, she seems cross, by the stern look on her face, and authoritative entrance.  When in fact, there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that the supervisor was cross solely with Andie. Even though she instructs Andie to complete a task for her, she walks away, distracted by her phone- signalling that there were other things she needed to which had more priority. Therefore, the supervisor could have just been busy, and not necessarily cross just with Andie. In actual fact, the supervisor could have had the most trust in Andie, so that’s why she instructed her with the task, and not the others. This is also an example of ‘Selective Abstraction’- feeling responsible for a cross person, even though Andie is just one of the colleagues in the office that’s a part of the work atmosphere. 

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Above: Andie feeling like a failure

This incident is also an example of ‘Magnification and Minimisation’. Magnification is illustrated by Andie believing in the worst case scenario, and minimisation is putting aside the fact that Andie could be the most valued worker, and doesn’t believe she is worthy of success. 

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Above: Andie believing that she is responsible for making her boss cross


Sharpley, C. (2013). Understanding and treating depression. 1st ed. Prahran, Vic.: Tilde University Press.


Postmodern View of Identity

Foucault and Lacan have inspired the postmodern view of identity by questioning: 

  • What are the boundaries of the self?
  • Can you tell the difference between private/public or inner/outer selves?
  • Can the image of the unified self be replaced by a more surface-oriented model?

These ideas have led me to think in more depth about the relationship between Alison and Andie. (Though remember that Alison is not real, she’s just a representation of Andie’s mind). So, with that in mind, Alison is like Andie’s barrier. Alison prevents Andie from behaving in a civilised way.

At work, Andie is very reserved and doesn’t like to express emotion, for fear of appearing weak. Therefore that is one of the reasons she hides in the toilet- because the stress and emotions were too much for her. At home, Andie is finally able to be on her own and so she can let out her true emotions. A productive outcome from this is she tries to express her emotions by painting. Other times, she’s counterintuitive, and cries and has outbursts of anger, spurred on by Alison.

With regards to the final question that Foucault and Lacan have posed, I believe that there isn’t one singular self. I believe that there are multiple layers of self. In society, there are public and private selves; depending on the situation we encounter. Individually, each person has lots of different multitudes of self that take form when experiencing different emotions; for example when excited or bored.



  1. Bancroft, A., Rogers, S. and Stapley, P. (2010). Identity And Embodiment – Foucault For Beginners. [online] Cardiff.ac.uk. Available at: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/undergraduate/introsoc/identity1.html [Accessed 7 Feb 2017].
  2. Vanheule, S. (2011). Lacan’s Construction and Deconstruction of the Double-Mirror Device. Frontiers in Psychology, 2.

Lacan: the Deconstructed Self

Lacan’s vision of the self is defined as the ‘mirror stage’, in which he illustrates how the child yields a duped perception of character through identifying with reflections and images. During the first few months of babyhood, the infant is in disarray. Moving on to the mirror stage, when the infant is aged 6 to 18 months, the infant recognises its own behaviour mirrored in the body language and signals of adults, children and also in mirrors.

Intrigued by this mirroring,  the child mistakes the identity of themselves as a complete individual for the first time. The child views themselves as a whole person, which signals to the child that they will gain complete control over their body.  When this happens, the ego i.e. the sense of self forms. The mirror helps to communicate the child’s sense of self identity. 

A sense of self is gained via a reflection, or from imagination. Identity is gained from mis-recognition, an untrue vision of the self, which remains as the ‘ideal ego’ for the rest of one’s life. Therefore, the mirror provides the first signified, and the infant itself behaves as the first signifier.

Putting theory into action: 

Alison represents Andie’s former self: who was careless and rebellious. Yet similarly, she also represents the idealised version of who Andie would want to be: effortless and unflawed.


Vanheule, S. (2011). Lacan’s Construction and Deconstruction of the Double-Mirror Device. Frontiers in Psychology, 2.