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What Are Thinking Errors?
By Tracy E. Barnhart
Published: 12/28/2009

Business man thinking Thinking Errors are thoughts people exhibit or demonstrate during irresponsible behavior. This thinking leads to and brings on self-destructive behavior. This self-destructiveness leads to and brings on criminal behaviors. Remember, we have all demonstrated these thinking errors at one time or another, so we must keep them in perspective. For example, although everyone has fear, what is at issue is the nature of the fear and how we cope with it.

Thinking errors are present everywhere in life. We regard them as “errors” solely from the perspective of responsibility and from the stand point of societal norms. Every thinking error must first be understood by itself and then be related to the others. Responsibility is defined to extend beyond legal accountability or a state of crimelessness to an entire way of life that is the outcome of eliminating wrong thinking patterns and learning new ones.

We will attempt to develop a framework based on analysis of thought processes. The basically responsible person has a life-style of hard work, fulfillment of obligations, and consideration for others. We drive self-respect of others from our achievements. Desires to make the wrong choices do occur, but they disappear, usually without us having to make a conscious choice.

We often discard thoughts about wrong choices because they do not fit our view of life, and so no effort is needed to eliminate it. The focus is on the individuals thinking patterns. When a poor choice or a deviation from responsible behavior does happen, it does not necessarily become a way of life or a thinking pattern. For example; we have moments of extreme anger, but anger and vindictiveness are not automatic responses to things that do not go our way. For example; a responsible person may lie, but infrequently. In this case, lying is not a way of life.

The basically responsible person has a pattern of being conscientious in occupational, domestic, and social affairs. We work productively and contribute toward the good of others, while trying to advance ourselves. Some people do not violate the law, but can be considered irresponsible. These are the defaulters, liars, excuse makers, people who are generally unreliable.

We who are chronically late, perform poorly at work, or fail to fulfill promises and obligations at home, at school, or on the job. However, they cannot be arrested for any of these shortcomings. They may show irresponsibility in some ways and be conscientious otherwise and their irresponsibility doesn’t result in criminal acts. The process of change is formidable task. To bring about change, we must counteract our conviction that “we do not need to improve.”

Genuine Self-criticism is absolutely essential to the change process. Without it, any effort to change is condemned to an early failure. As we attempt to understand thinking errors, we might be offended or worried by finding that, to a degree, we have some of the characteristics attributed to the extreme end of self destructive behavior.

We may think of times we have lied or misrepresented a situation. We may recall with some embarrassment an occasion when we have let our temper get the best of us or an isolated instance of taking something that did not belong to us. Such behavior doesn’t automatically place us on the self-destructive or unlawful end of the continuum.

I want to warn the reader against the “medical student’s disease,” in which we whole hardily apply everything to ourselves. Anyone of us who desires to effect basic change in ourselves must be very familiar with thinking errors, for it is with these thinking patterns to which correctives must be applied. The focus is individual thinking patterns.

At a glance, the general criminal thinking errors are:
  • Anger
  • Assuming
  • Avoiding the hot iron
  • Blaming
  • Confusion
  • Excuses
  • Fact Stacking
  • Fronting
  • Grandiosity or Maximizing
  • Helplessness
  • Hopovers
  • Hot Shot or Cockiness
  • I Can’t Attitude
  • It’s Mine or Entitlement
  • Justifying
  • Keeping Score
  • Lack of empathy
  • Let’s Fight or splitting
  • Lying
  • Making Fools of
  • Minimizing
  • Mr. Good guy
  • My way or no way
  • Pet me
  • Power play
  • Redefining
  • Refusal to accept obligations
  • Refusal to acknowledge fear
  • Secretiveness
  • Seeking Sympathy
  • Silent Power
  • Slacking
  • Uniqueness
  • Vagueness
  • Victim Stance
  • You’re Ok, I’m OK

Visit the Tracy Barnhart page


  1. Editor @ Corrections.com on 01/22/2010:

    The following was sent in via email: Might it be an inadvertent thinking error that Mr. Barnhart did not reference the Yochelson/Samenow work that dveloped errors in thinking as a concept as well as pioneered the specific errors and a method for their correction? Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D.

  2. CJIS on 12/29/2009:

    Very right about alot of facets in my personality, positive and negative. Appreciate articles everyone can take something from.

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