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Overgeneralization

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Updated July 07, 2012

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Definition: Overgeneralization is the cognitive distortion of taking an isolated event and broadly generalizing about it. In the context of social anxiety disorder (SAD), it tends to take form as a thinking pattern in which a single failure is viewed as one more example of a pattern of defeat. Overgeneralization is usually identified as a problematic thought process during cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). During CBT, the client is asked to examine the validity of the thought and identify possible alternatives.
Examples:
John makes a mistake while speaking in a meeting at work. He thinks to himself, "This always happens to me, I will never be any good in meetings." This defeating thought was an overgeneralization.

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