Dubbed as the #1 most frequently recommended book by mental health practitioners for depressed patients, David D. Burns Feeling Good – The New Mood Therapy put Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on the forefront of therapy for depression and anxiety.
The popular book also spearheaded the concept of Bibliotherapy – the idea of prescribing books to patients to help alleviate symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. Bibliotherapy supposes that by merely reading the book and applying the concepts to your own life, you will reap the benefits of the clinically-proven theories.
And this is what makes Feeling Good so popular and so effective in the world of psychology. Clinical studies have actually been done to provide evidence that by simply applying the concepts to your own thinking and behavior, you get to improve your mood and significantly reduce symptoms of mood disorders.
Let’s take a look at what the book is about, as well as who the author is.
David D. Burns: The Man and the Theory Behind the Book
David D. Burns is currently an adjunct professor emeritus at the Stanford University School of Medicine‘s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
It was 1980 when Burns published the now highly popular book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Since then over 4 million copies have been sold in the US and Canada. Before the book became available to the public, the concept of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was relatively unknown.
Before the theory was even created, psychotherapy solutions had been deemed as unsuccessful. Depression was seen as a cancer that had no cure and it was plaguing millions of people in America. Countless theories were used to address mood disorders – such as Freud’s psychoanalysis and even shock therapy – but none had really shown clinical evidence of positive results.
During the 1960’s, Cognitive Behavorial Therapy or CBT was conceptualized by Dr. Aaron T. Beck – the pioneering cognitive psychologist and considered to be the father of cognitive therapy. According to Beck, most depressive and anxiety disorders were simply a consequence of illogical thoughts and negative thinking. Dr. Beck references the theory to the Greek philosopher Epictetus, who said that people are disturbed not by things that happen in their lives, but the way, they think about these things.
When doing his residency at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, David Burns worked with Dr. Beck and thought the concept was too simple and obvious, until he applied it to his patients. Burns was amazed at how his subjects were relieved of destructive feelings, and that those who were suicidal just 2 weeks prior, were now looking forward to rebuilding their lives.
Burns’ own applications of CBT to his own practice built the foundations of the book that came to be the most highly regarded self-help book in psychology.
About the Book: What it Does and How it Helps
The book’s main idea is the use of cognitive therapy to address symptoms of depression and other chronic mood disorders. It outlines the clinically proven CBT techniques that will help people come out from depression and develop a renewed positive outlook in life.
Click for your copy of David D. Burns The Feeling Good Handbook
The book teaches readers to use the techniques on 4 areas, which are: Dealing with Guilt, Handling Hostility & Criticism, Overcoming Addiction to Approval and Love, and Building Self-Esteem.
An outline of 10 Cognitive Distortions are also discussed, such as overgeneralization, disqualifying positive thoughts, all-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions, and other forms of self-destructing negative thinking. Burns lays out plans on recognizing negative patterns of thought, shows you how these affect your moods and behavior, and provides techniques to correct these distorted thinking.
What Makes the Book Revolutionary
As mentioned, before CBT was popularized by the book, there were numerous forms of therapy that addressed depression. However, none really provided actual positive results. Psychoanalysis was the norm for therapy, but the mere act of talking about and dissecting one’s past and childhood simply resulted to the understanding of psychological distress and didn’t really promote a renewed way of life.
CBT was the first book that really presented a solution to change one’s life through the use of actual clinical research.
The basic and simple foundation of the book says that feelings are not fact; you can change your feelings by changing the way you think.
If you take a look at a lot of depressed people, they have a tendency to think negatively, even though their lives are actually complete and they have concrete achievements. However, despite their riches, they’re still depressed. So why is this so? Another example: a man who gets divorced and loses his money finds a job and moves on with another woman; while another man who has the same fate jumps from his 10th floor balcony – same event but different reactions.
According to cognitive therapy, your feelings and moods are a direct result of your own thoughts. The book uses the theory to help you change your way of thinking so you can change the way you react to life, and therefore, reduce your symptoms of depression.
The Bottom Line
The book is a great instruction guide to help you change your life for the better. What’s so great about it is that it’s readable even for the ordinary person. It also provides techniques for the average person who’s simply going through a rough patch in their lives. You don’t have to be depressed or be a psychologist to understand this book – it’s very easy to read and can be applied on any area of life.
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