Child molesters’ cognitive distortions. Conceptualizations of the term.
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Instytut Psychologii UAM w Poznaniu
Filip Szumski   

Instytut Psychologii UAM w Poznaniu, ul. Szamarzewskiego 89, 60-568 Poznań, Polska
Submission date: 2014-12-11
Acceptance date: 2015-01-24
Publication date: 2016-10-31
Psychiatr Pol 2016;50(5):1053–1063
The concept of cognitive distortion was created by A. T. Beck and it is one of the key-concepts of cognitive psychotherapy. In the 80s of the twentieth century, researchers began to use it in studies of sexual offending, but with reference to the social learning theory rather than to the theory of cognitive psychotherapy. Subsequent authors continued the use of this term in the determinants of child molestation and defined them as products emerging from specific implicit theory of the offender, the judgements resulting from his beliefs, values and actions, dysfunctional cognitive schemas, deviant cognitive practices undertaken in the interaction of internal and external components of perpetrator’s cognitive system and his social practices. The primary theoretical background in the description of the concept of cognitive distortions of child molesters was the social cognition theory, but it was complemented with the assumptions of the theory of cognitive psychotherapy, extended theory of mind and discursive psychology perspective. Particular concepts describe the cognitive distortions relating them to different classes of cognitive phenomena: products, processes and structures, and the only thing they have in common is their incompatibility of their content to the social norms. Giving this concept a normative nature leads to internal contradictions within the conceptions that concern it. Moreover, using it to explain the various processes oversimplifies the picture of this phenomenon and leads to contradictions between theories. It is, therefore, necessary to consider replacing the term cognitive distortions with alternative and more precise concepts.