1. Health

Cognitive Distortion


Updated March 24, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.


First identified by the seminal cognitive-behavioral therapist Aaron Beck, cognitive distortions are errors in thinking that are prevalent in many forms of mental illness including mood and anxiety disorders. As the name suggests, cognitive distortions are ways of thinking that negatively skew the way in which we see the world, ourselves and others.

Cognitive therapists have identified a number of cognitive distortions that seem to be particularly prevalent among people with OCD. Identifying and challenging these distortions is a central component of psychological therapies for OCD. OCD cognitive distortions include:

  • Over-importance of Thoughts
  • Overestimation of Danger
  • Inflation of Responsibility
  • Overestimation of Consequences of Danger
  • Need for Certainty
  • Intolerance of Emotional Discomfort
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  4. Glossary
  5. Cognitive Distortion - Definition of Cognitive Distortion

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.