Cognitive Pearl #014 Kislev 24, 5775 December 16, 14

Those poor babies! 

People are always throwing them out with their dirty bath water. 

Take rituals as an example. The concept of rituals has been so terribly ‘pathologized’ and associated with religion that it’s seriously hard to consider how helpful ritual can be. And how common they are. From how we prepare our morning coffee to how we read the newspaper to the places we avoid going near our lives are made up of ritualized behaviors. It is safe to say that humanity has developed a taste and need for ritual. Whether they act as time savers or create a comforting sense of familiarity, rituals are part of who we are1. Cognitive therapists integrate the need for ritual into treatment. We set up activity schedules that also include opposite actions or behaviors that challenge mood states (sadness, rage, despondency) and anxious immobilization. We also integrate dysfunctional thought records, or ritualized procedures for ‘unpacking’ misery and finding a bit of bliss.

So before you throw out the bathwater, take that cute baby out. 

1 Clinical problems and human misery start when ritualized behaviors are so many and so cumbersome that there is no room for anything else: love, work, or the improvisation required for a joyful life.