CBT and Existentialism
CBT = Existentialism?
"I've recently come to the conclusion that cognitive behavioral therapy, the empirically-demonstrated gold standard for treating depression and a host of other problems, necessitates a belief in existentialism, a philosophy holding that we live in a meaningless universe.
How can happiness derive from appreciating the fundamental pointlessness of existence?
Existentialism (at least atheistic existentialism) does not argue that meaning does not exist, only that it does not exist out there in the real world. All meaning is human-constructed. You have complete freedom to interpret events however you like (a freedom that some find nauseating.)
CBT similarly places interpretive control in the hands of the individual. The premise is that thoughts lead to emotions (which lead to behaviors), and we can learn to control our thoughts--even if they've become habit. We're not at the mercy of an emotional system automatically placing valuation on experiences.
I suppose my connection between CBT and existentialism comes from a conversation I had several years ago with a girlfriend who was studying philosophy. I'd said that because of my depression I was an existentialist--I had trouble finding meaning in things. On the contrary, she said, I was *too* depressed to be an existentialist. I was fatalistic. I instinctively saw everything as bad."
Read the complete article at Psychology Today.