Reprinted from a poem written for a friend in residence at the Brattleboro Retreat in Vermont. This poem repeated itself in my mind for the entire two-hour ride home where, to my relief, I found paper and pen.

Cognitive distortion is used to describe a pattern of thinking that shifts events into a negative framework; leading to feelings of sadness, anger and hopelessness.  There are many forms but one is the all-or-nothing or black-or-white of extreme thinking where there is no middle ground.

Cognitive Distortion

There is a terror of the mind
that clouds reality
and gives shape to lie.
   Black, dim emptiness
   hangs heavy like a veil
   to filter out the truth.
   Evil throbs in tune
   with bleak despair
   to magnify the rage.
      Retreat a bit.
      Wait a bit.
      Let the soul begin to heal.
When mist is blown aside
the radiance within
forms first a tint of gray.
That bright-striped rainbow
is pulsing deep within
to bring color into life.
   Light is there.
   Good is there.
   Allow your joy to spread.
Erase the error of the mind
that clouds reality
and gives shape to lie.

-- Marilyn Paluszak

Dali holding his Soft Portrait with Bacon
Salvador Dali with his Soft Portrait with Bacon

If there were anyone who could understand cognitive distortion I think it would be one of my favorites, the Spanish surrealist, Salvador Dali (1904-1989).

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali
The Persistence of Memory
The Dream by Salvador Dali
The Dream
The Elephants by Salvador Dali
The Elephants
Self Portrait of Salvador Dali, 1921
Self Portrait, 1921
Soft Portrait with Bacon by Salvador Dali
Soft Portrait with Bacon

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