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Maimonides and the Origins of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

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The philosophical roots of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have usually been traced to the rationalist and stoic philosophers, but not to the 12th century physician-theologian, Maimonides. This paper argues that CBT has startling affinities with Maimonides's clinical methods of dealing with emotional disturbances, and that both Maimonides and practitioners of CBT drew inspiration from similar philosophical traditions. While CBT did not evolve directly from Maimonides, many of its tenets were prefigured in his writing. By comparing the specific methods of CBT with the teachings of Maimonides, a nexus between the two is established. The more theocentric aspects of Maimonides's views, though not directly transferable to CBT, open a path toward the fusion of cognitive-behavioral and existential therapies.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Tufts University, Boston MA

Publication date: 1997-01-01

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  • Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy is devoted to the advancement of the clinical practice of cognitive psychotherapy. This scholarly journal seeks to merge theory, research, and practice and to develop new techniques by an examination of the clinical implications of theoretical development and research findings.
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