Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Catastrophizing/Catastrophic Thinking

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_163



Catastrophizing refers to the anticipation without evidence of extreme and terrible consequences or outcomes of an event. Catastrophizing is a characteristic type of cognitive distortion or error that may underlie a negative and inaccurate thought (Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979; Clark, Beck, & Alford, 1999). It can have negative health consequences for individuals who are managing a chronic illness. For example, a recent cancer survivor may interpret his fatigue as meaning that he will never recover his usual energy level and that he will have to give up all of his meaningful activities. This type of thinking can maintain negative emotions such as depression and lead to adverse or unhelpful behaviors such as poor medical adherence.


References and Readings

  1. Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  2. Clark, D. A., Beck, A. T., & Alford, B. A. (1999). Scientific foundations of cognitive theory and therapy of depression. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral Medicine ServiceMassachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA