What Happened vs The Story: Concreteness training


What is really happening that gives us the boost of relief we feel when we see What Happened? The power of the cognition is nothing other than its concreteness. An abstract entity can contain or subsume many instances. But a concrete particular cannot—it is trapped in the locus of its instantiation. Suddenly, there is no longer a pervasive pain, but a thing that is properly other there, in the past, its tentacles withdrawn. What was once a demon is now just one puny fact among others in the rubbish heap of history.

A properly otherizing cognition must be concrete.

This is the concreteness principle of Schematism Tech.

Concrete abreaction helps

Watkins, Edward R., Baeyens, C. B. & Read, R. (2009). Concreteness training reduces dysphoria: proof-of-principle for repeated cognitive bias modification in depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 118(1), 55-64.

Abstract: A tendency toward abstract and overgeneral processing is a cognitive bias hypothesized to causally contribute to symptoms of depression. This hypothesis predicts that training dysphoric individuals to become more concrete and specific in their thinking would reduce depressive symptoms. To test this prediction, 60 participants with dysphoria were randomly allocated either to (a) concreteness training; (b) bogus concreteness training, matched with concreteness training for treatment rationale, experimenter contact, and treatment duration but without active engagement in concrete thinking; (c) a waiting-list, no training control. Concreteness training resulted in significantly greater decreases in depressive symptoms and significantly greater increases in concrete thinking than the waiting-list and the bogus training control, and significantly greater decreases in rumination than the waiting-list control. These findings suggest that concreteness training has potential as a guided self-help intervention for mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms.