Stoic philosophy has multiple parallels with cognitive behavioural therapy interventions. In their ancient texts, the Roman Stoics present a set of theoretical principles and behavioural strategies that are directly relevant to the clinical care of patients with a wide range of neuropsychiatric conditions. Mindfulness is a key component of the 'third wave' of modern psychotherapy that closely resembles the ancient Stoic practice of attention or 'concentration on the present moment'. Stoic mindfulness draws attention to one of the main principles driving both Stoicism and modern psychotherapy: the assumption that cognitive activity (reasoning) mediates emotions and behaviours. This principle can be traced back to Epictetus' Enchiridion, where he recognises that 'men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things'. It has been shown that cognitive behavioural therapies and mindfulness-based interventions directed at patients with neuropsychiatric disorders were originally developed as Stoic-inspired treatment interventions. Both Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck (the founders of rational emotive behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, respectively) explicitly acknowledged the role of Stoicism as the philosophical precursor of their treatment approaches. The effective implementation of evidence-based guidelines would benefit from an increased awareness of the influence of the Stoic tradition of philosophical therapy on the treatment approaches currently in use in neuropsychiatry.
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- Cognitive behavioural therapy