George W. Bush: A Course of CBT Therapy

In this analysis of George W. Bush’s speeches at the onset of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, my colleagues and I searched his language use for instances of underlying “cognitive distortions,” as defined by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) principles.  According to Ellis and Dryden (1997), cognitive distortions are a feature of psychological disturbance: they “tend to be absolute (or dogmatic)” and lead to self-defeating and societal-defeating behaviors.

In this descriptive analysis of Bush’s speeches, we quantified instances of the following cognitive distortions and linked them to the unfolding of events over the course of the initial invasion:

  • Catastrophizing
  • Absolute Thinking
  • Time Overgeneralization
  • Grouping Overgeneralization
  • Labeling

Read the entire article [pdf; 3.2Mb]


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