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.