The concept of the unconscious in the early cognitive therapy of Aaron T. Beck
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Uniwersytet Gdański, Instytut Psychologii
Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Instytut Psychologii
Monika Romanowska   

Uniwersytet Gdański, Instytut Psychologii
Submission date: 2021-02-12
Final revision date: 2021-04-29
Acceptance date: 2021-06-17
Publication date: 2021-10-03
Psychoter 2021;197(2):67–78
The standard narrative about the origin of cognitive therapy has it that its originator, Aaron T. Beck, broke all ties with psychoanalysis and chose the evidence-based way of formulating his theory. It seems, however, that Beck’s attitude to the issue of the role and significance of latent mental processes was much more complex. The aim of this article is to familiarize readers with current historical research on the birth of cognitive therapy and presentation of Beck’s concept of the unconscious in the early version of his theory, with special emphasis on the issues of accessing latent mental contents and processes. We suggest that the early Beck’s theory was influenced by the situation in the American psychiatric care in sixties, the Cold War rhetoric, and psychoanalytic education of Aaron T. Beck. In his early work, Beck did not elaborate sufficiently on the concept of „schema” which made a gap in his theory. We can also notice, that at that time he did not describe in detail the deductive way to get to latent contents. These findings allow therapists to better understand the sources of cognitive therapy and the difficulties Beck was struggling with.
Source of funding National Science Center grant Preludium No. 2017/25 / N / HS6 / 00534