Module 1, Lesson 1
In Progress

Magnification and Minimization

Typically people who magnify or minimize situations tend to gravitate towards one type of distortion. Magnification occurs when you blow things out of proportion. It’s also often referred to as “making a mountain out of a molehill.” Here are a couple of examples:

  • “If I don’t get that promotion, my life is over.”
  • “If that car gets into the lane before I do, I’m going to be late for work, and I’ll get fired.”

One particular form of magnification is called catastrophizing. This occurs when you give added weight to the worst possible scenario. Catastrophizing often includes an implied logical fallacy of the slippery slope, where one thing leads to another all the way to the worst possible disaster. Here’s an example:

  • “If I ask that girl out and she doesn’t want to, and says no, she will make fun of me in front of everybody. I’ll become the biggest laughing stock and everyone will know that I’m an absolute loser.”

Of course, when you take into account the kind of short hand that goes along with automatic thinking, including magnification and catastrophizing, this type of thought, when you encounter it, looks more like this:

  • “If I ask that girl out … biggest laughing stock … total loser.”

This is what makes automatic thinking so insidious because between the ellipses, there’s a whole bunch of logical leaps that don’t actually follow logically.

If magnification is making a mountain out of a molehill, minimization is the exact opposite, making a molehill out of a mountain. Here are some examples:

  • “It’s okay if I miss work today. Nobody will notice, and I have plenty of absences to play with.”
  • “I know I cough a little bit from time to time, but it’s not so bad that I have to quit smoking.” (when the person has been coughing up phlegm and blood on a daily basis)