Rational Expectations

Catastrophizing is an irrational thought a lot of us have in believing that something is far worse than it actually is. Catastrophizing can generally take two forms. The first of these is making a catastrophe out of a situation.

What is Catastrophizing?

Catastrophizing has two parts:

Part 1: Predicting a negative outcome.

Part 2: Jumping to the conclusion that if the negative outcome did in fact happen, it would be a catastrophe.

Three Psychological Mechanisms related to Catastrophizing

Psychology research on chronic pain and catastrophizing has uncovered three types of mechanisms related to catastrophizing

– Rumination – (overthinking. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy technique for overcoming rumination)
– Magnification
– Helplessness

Overcoming Catastrophizing

– Mindful awareness

You have to catch yourself having cognitive distortions to be able to do anything about them,

– Consider Other Possible Outcomes
Consider positive predictions, neutral predictions, and mildly negative predictions, not just very negative predictions.

– Make a Distinction Between Significantly Unpleasant and Catastrophe
Key to overcoming catastrophizing is making a distinction between something being significantly unpleasant and it being a catastrophe. Failing an important exam would be extremely distressing but it does not doom the individual to a life of failure.

– Increase your perception of your ability to cope.
If you believe you can cope with negative events, anxiety will be much less of a problem for you.

Types of Catastrophizing

The common types of catastrophes people tend to imagine include:

– Imagining yourself losing control of yourself. For example, an individual with panic disorder predicts that if they go to the mall on a weekend afternoon, they will have a panic attack. They predict that having a panic attack would be a catastrophe, rather than it just being significantly unpleasant.

– Imagining yourself spiraling into a deep depression.

– Imagining yourself never finding love, and imagining that if this happens you will be plagued by intense feelings of loneliness 24/7 from now until you die.

– Equating some type of mild to moderate social rejection with being totally shunned by all desirable people.



Excellent. And if imagination fails to exist? I bet that’s covered in the ICD 10, too.

Wait though, predict?

Hold up!

Ain’t nobody done yet.



Catastrophizing has two parts:

Part 1: Predicting a negative outcome.

Part 2: Jumping to the conclusion that if the negative outcome did in fact happen, it would be a catastrophe.

Very few people go from jumping to a negative conclusion or outcome to being mindful enough to realize “its” just going to be a catastrophe.


Can I help a little more?

Show me somebody that’s like, “if that really gonna happen” I’m finna have me a catastrophe. Really?

Is that a Cognitive Distortion? And yes I’ve understood for decades that cognitive just means “thinking”. Knowing, perception, judgement, reasoning and cognitive behavior is just…  the behavior of thinking in the first place.

Rational or Critical thinking?


Just asking.




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