Breaking Negative Thinking Patterns: A Schema Therapy Self-Help and Support Book


Affect, affective

Affect is a synonym for feeling or emotion. The term affective covers all sensations and behaviors that are strongly influenced by feelings, closely attached to feelings or accompanied by emotional arousal.

Affective bridge

An affective bridge is an association between a current situation and a situation in the past in which related emotions were present. Those situations don’t need to be similar in content – it’s all about the emotional connection. For instance, one could call it an affective bridge when the cool voice of your boss makes you panic, because that is the way your father sounded before he burst out in a rage attack.

Balance in social relationships

Social psychologists investigate how people experience and form social relationships. Some studies have examined the contribution each partner makes in a relationship (e.g. how housekeeping tasks are distributed). They show that people systematically overestimate their own contribution in the relationship – on average by about 50 percent! So if you tend to say “in my relationship I take care of about two thirds to three quarters of stuff that needs to be done,” you are very likely to live in an objectively balanced relationship in which each partner contributes 50 percent! Of course, this is just a rule of thumb that doesn’t apply to every case. However, it does apply fairly often and it can be crucial to know this if you intend to be satisfied in a relationship.


Bullying means to physically agonize or emotionally hurt other people on a regular basis. This can take place at school, at work, in a sports club, or in the Internet. Mobbing has negative consequences for the victims’ health, their job, and their private situation.


Coping is the way we deal with life events or a lifespan that we experience as important and difficult. People can have individual “coping strategies.” These strategies can be either functional or dysfunctional. A functional coping means finding a sustainable, long-term solution for a problem. In contrast, dysfunctional coping often only provides short-term relief, the long-term problem persists.

Emotions, primary

Primary emotions are, first, those emotions that occur immediately after a stimulus. Primary emotions could be: joy, grief, anxiety, anger, surprise and disgust. Secondly, we call emotions “primary” in psychotherapy when they represent the “core” of a problem.

Emotions, secondary

Secondary (or social) emotions usually occur some time after a stimulus, and are “reactive” emotions, influenced by cognitive processes. Examples are: embarrassment, jealousy, guilt, shame, etc. A supplementary, psychotherapeutic definition is the following: sometimes other emotions than the “core” emotions are present (e.g. someone is nearly always railing against their partner, though they actually feel sad when the anger is gone); in this case sadness would be the primary emotion which is concealed by the secondary emotion, anger.

Hot emotions

Emotions are called “hot” if they go along with strong arousal and/or impulsive actions, such as rage, anger, or defiance.

Histrionic personality disorder

This disorder is characterized by theatrical, attention-seeking behavior. Affected individuals are often inappropriately seductive or provoking, show exaggerated self-presentation and a rapid change and dramatic expression of emotions, and are easily influenced.


A hysterical personality is characterized by a specific dilemma: on the one hand they are afraid to make a commitment to something, on the other hand they long for stability. They are always active, seeking for new ideas and longing to be the center of attention. The hysterical personality is nowadays usually diagnosed as histrionic personality disorder with partly changed diagnostic criteria.


Needs are impulses or urges that are important to an individual. Psychologists believe that several basic needs have to be fulfilled to live a satisfying and psychologically healthy life.


Switching of roles by parent and child because parents do not, often cannot, fulfill their commitment. The child is then overstrained because it has to perform a “parent role”: the child has to take care of the well-being of family members although it’s actually young to do so.

Problematic behavior

A behavior is called problematic if it is pleasant in the short term but causes long-term problems. Typical problematic behaviors would be smoking or overeating – they provide short-term pleasure and satisfaction, but in the long term cause problems.


Procrastination means to postpone, often indefinitely, necessary but unpleasant tasks.


A behavior is reinforced if a pleasant stimulus occurs as a consequence. This means that the behavior is rewarded and the probability that it will be repeated increases. For instance, if a small child manages to be given chocolate in response to an outburst of rage, it may well “produce” such outbursts more often in the future.

Selective perception

To notice only those things that confirm your (negative) presumptions. You could also say you have “blinders on”. An example would be someone who is giving a talk and who faces 50 interested viewers but notices in the back row two people keep chatting. If he feels that no one is interested in his talk he probably suffers from selective perception – he’s blanked out the 50 interested viewers.

Vicarious learning

A learning process in which a person acquires new behavior by observing others. This can either be intended (e.g. if you imitate a certain movement which your trainer shows to you) or not intended (e.g. “bad role models”).