Self, Cognition, and Psychopathology: Introduction to the Special Section (Part I) Academic Article uri icon


  • A particularly stormy, albeit fruitful, debate in psychopathology is the one focusing on the role of cognition in mental disorders. Historically, James Coyne and Ian Gotlib, in a brilliantly constructed article in Psychological Bulletin, were the ones opening the debate (Coyne & Gotlib, 1983). These two psychopathology giants questioned what was, at the time, the assumption that maladaptive cognitions cause psychopathology, particularly depression, and that psychotherapy remediates psychopathology by correcting cognitions.1 Coyne and Gotlib (1986) reiterated their criticism of cognitive theory of depression in Cognitive Therapy & Research, and Zindel Segal and Brian Shaw (Segal & Shaw, 1986) mounted an equally brilliant response. The debate on the causal status of cognitions in psychopathology has not only continued (Coyne, 1990), but has also spilled over to related issues such as the appropriateness of using college students as participants in research on cognition in depression (Coyne, 1994; Vredenburg, Flett, & Krames, 1993), and the role of personality in depression (Coyne & Whiffen, 1995; Zuroff, Mongrain, & Santor, 2004). Much has transpired since the beginning of this debate, and most of the debate‚Äôs vicissitudes may be characterized by the label Integration. When it commenced, the debate was highly ideological, in that questioning the status of cognition in psychopathology was tantamount to questioning the validity of the entire cognitive approach to clinical psychology, including (perhaps particularly) cognitive therapy for depression. Yet, the past four decades have seen a rapprochement between the cognitive-clinical perspective and other schools of clinical thought, including the psychodynamic (Westen, 1992), interpersonal (Zuroff, 1992), and

publication date

  • January 1, 2013