What is cognitive distorion?
According to Wikipedia, "cognitive distortion are thoughts that cause individuals to perceive reality inaccurately". It is a negative outlook on reality, sometimes called negative schemas (or schemata), and can reinforce negative emotions and thoughts.
Criticisms on cognitive distortion
Common criticisms of the diagnosis of cognitive distortion relate to epistemology and the theoretical basis. The implicit assumption behind the diagnosis is that the therapist is infallible and that only the world view of the therapist is correct. If the perceptions of the patient differ from those of the therapist, it may not be because of intellectual malfunctions but because the patient has different experiences.
For convenience, I'll name the person who is making diagnosis Cueball, and the person who is being diagnosed Megan. Here is Cueball and Megan:
I agree with the idea that Cueball may even have assumption that he is correct (thus having a distorted perception about Megan), but I don't think this criticism paints a full picture. I think the main issue with cognitive distortion is that Megan lacks self-skepticism. That is, she doesn't assume that she can be wrong. Any person can (or will) assume that they are correct, but they can still assume that they can be wrong at the same time. And more importantly, the behavior of a person assuming they can be wrong is totally different from the behavior of a person who doesn't have that assumption.
So if Cueball doesn't see that behavior in Megan, can he conclude that she has cognitive distortion and still be correct? Is the signs of cognitive distortion so detectable that one can use gut instinct to conclude and still be correct?