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Am J Psychiatry. 1987 Feb;144(2):133-43.

Levels of emotional awareness: a cognitive-developmental theory and its application to psychopathology.

Erratum in

  • Am J Psychiatry 1987 Apr;144(4):542.


The authors present a cognitive-developmental theory of emotional awareness that creates a bridge between normal and abnormal emotional states. Their primary thesis is that emotional awareness is a type of cognitive processing which undergoes five levels of structural transformation along a cognitive-developmental sequence derived from an integration of the theories of Piaget and Werner. The five levels of structural transformation are awareness of bodily sensations, the body in action, individual feelings, blends of feelings, and blends of blends of feelings. The authors suggest applications of this model to current unresolved problems in psychiatric theory, research, and practice.

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