Strategic self-limitation Report uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Child Development
  • Cognition
  • Economics
  • Human Rights
  • Social Justice


  • Traditionally, cognitive therapy has viewed psychopathology as a consequence of dysfunctional information processing and maladaptive assumptions or imperatives. However, one may also view dysfunctional behavior and cognition as purposive and as setting desired limits on individual change. Change always implies some risk and uncertainty and individuals may manage this risk and uncertainty by creating barriers to change or to self-evaluation. The resistant patient is viewed as invested in avoiding evaluation of the self under 'optimal' conditions by obscuring attributional processes regarding the self. Self-handicapping strategies of resistance include noncompliance with homework, personal attacks on the therapist, distancing and volatility in emotions, waiting for readiness to change, and insistence on hopelessness. Therapeutic interventions include direct identification of self-handicapping as a strategy, examining the negative implications of achieving goals, investment in self-idealization rather than self-acceptance, and experimentation with success.

publication date

  • December 1999



  • Report

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 275

end page

  • 293


  • 13


  • 4