|Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews|101 Healing Stories101 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started Using HypnosisA Primer for Beginning PsychotherapyA Therapist's Guide to Understanding Common Medical ProblemsACT With LoveAssessment and Treatment of Childhood Problems, Second EditionBad TherapyBefore ForgivingBeing a Brain-Wise TherapistBiofeedback for the BrainBody PsychotherapyBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBrain Change TherapyBreaking ApartBuffy the Vampire Slayer and PhilosophyBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheChoosing an Online TherapistClinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Intuition in PsychotherapyClinical Pearls of WisdomCo-Creating ChangeCompassion and Healing in Medicine and SocietyConfessions of a Former ChildConfidential RelationshipsConfidentiality and Mental HealthConfidingCouch FictionCounseling with Choice TheoryCritical Issues in PsychotherapyCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesDecoding the Ethics CodeDepression 101Depression in ContextDo-It-Yourself Eye Movement Techniques for Emotional HealingDoing ItE-TherapyEncountering the Sacred in PsychotherapyEnergy Psychology InteractiveEssays on Philosophical CounselingEthics in Psychotherapy and CounselingEveryday Mind ReadingExpressing EmotionFacing Human SufferingFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFamily TherapyFavorite Counseling and Therapy Homework AssignmentsFlourishingFlying ColorsHandbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for TherapistsHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Go to TherapyIf Only I Had KnownIn SessionIn Therapy We TrustIn Treatment: Season 1Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyIs Long-Term Therapy Unethical?Issues in Philosophical CounselingIt’s Your HourLearning from Our MistakesLetters to a Young TherapistLove's ExecutionerMan's Search for MeaningMetaphoria: Metaphor and Guided Metaphor for Psychotherapy and HealingMindfulness and AcceptanceMindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for DepressionMindworks: An Introduction to NLPMockingbird YearsMomma and the Meaning of LifeMotivational Interviewing: Preparing People For ChangeMulticulturalism and the Therapeutic ProcessOf Mice and MetaphorsOf Two MindsOn the CouchOne Nation Under TherapyOur Inner WorldOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhilosophical CounselingPhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophical PracticePhilosophy and PsychotherapyPhilosophy for Counselling and PsychotherapyPhilosophy PracticePlato, Not Prozac!Psychologists Defying the CrowdPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychosis in the FamilyPsychotherapyPsychotherapyPsychotherapy As PraxisPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy for Personality DisordersRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRational Emotive Behavior TherapyRationality and the Pursuit of HappinessRecovery OptionsRent Two Films and Let's Talk in the MorningSaving the Modern SoulSecond-order Change in PsychotherapySelf MattersSelf-Determination Theory in the ClinicSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapyStrangers to OurselvesTaking America Off DrugsTales of PsychotherapyThe Art of HypnosisThe Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior TherapyThe Crucible of ExperienceThe Education of Mrs. BemisThe Fall Of An IconThe Gift of TherapyThe Husbands and Wives ClubThe Love CureThe Making of a TherapistThe Mummy at the Dining Room TableThe Neuroscience of PsychotherapyThe Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Healing the Social BrainThe New PsychoanalysisThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Portable CoachThe Portable Ethicist for Mental Health Professionals The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday LifeThe Problem with Cognitive Behavioural TherapyThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Psychotherapy Documentation PrimerThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Schopenhauer CureThe Talking CureThe Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology, Revised EditionThe UnsayableThe Wing of MadnessTheory and Practice of Brief TherapyTherapyTheraScribe 4.0Toward a Psychology of AwakeningTracking Mental Health OutcomesTreating Attachment DisordersWhat the Buddha FeltWhat Works for Whom? Second EditionWhy Psychoanalysis?
by Michael E. Bernard
Review by Duncan Double on Nov 15th 2011
This book is not a critical evaluation of the work of Albert Ellis. Nor does it try to provide a historical interpretation of Ellis' work using biographical details. This may not be surprising, as it was written by an acolyte of Ellis. Michael Bernard was editor‑in‑chief of the Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy for eight years and is the author of several other books on Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). He begins the preface to this book by saying "Albert Ellis is a genius". He elected to write about Ellis' views mostly in the present rather than the past tense, even though Ellis died in 2007.
The book focuses on what Ellis had to say about happiness, by using quotes from his published writings, public lectures and transcripts of his counseling sessions. The essential message is that it's not rational to be too unhappy in life. REBT is based on the "ABC" theory of psychopathology. Beliefs (B) about activating events (A) are the critical causes of emotional and behavioral consequences (C), rather than them being caused directly by A. Of course there are upsets in life but happiness is a state of mind over which one has control. The problem arises from not accepting reality because of absolutistic premises or what Ellis called musturbatory thinking. Therapy reveals and disputes these underlying irrational premises.
There does seem to be a conceptual question about the nature of rationality. For Ellis, irrational beliefs are dysfunctional by definition. However, delusional and other beliefs to avoid reality do serve a defensive function. Ellis is particularly concerned about self-defeating 'shoulds and musts' and such self-downing is seen as mainly biological and innate.
The place of REBT in the historical forefront of the cognitive approach needs to be acknowledged. Aaron Beck seems to have developed CBT partly independently of Ellis. Both Ellis and Beck became disillusioned with psychoanalysis. Ellis in interviews with Bernard reprinted in a chapter in the book says that he got in touch with Beck after the publication of a paper entitled 'Thinking and depression' in 1963 and "found a kindred soul".
Rational therapy was first developed in the 1950s. It was re-named rational emotive therapy before finally being changed to REBT. Ellis received the American Humanist of the Year award in 1971. He was a pioneer sex therapist and marriage counselor for many years, and was the first president of the Society for Scientific Study of Sex and recipient in 1971 of its award for distinguished contributions to research in sex. He was a populist and the appeal of REBT may be to its commonsense and intuitive nature. This book provides a useful summary of what Ellis had to say on happiness.
© 2011 Duncan Double
Duncan Double, Consultant Psychiatrist and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Norfolk Mental Health Care Trust and University of East Anglia, UK; Website Editor, Critical Psychiatry Network.