The following quotes are from an interview with Albert Ellis in Psychology Today (Jan/Feb 2001).
"Albert Ellis is a force to be reckoned with, both as a person and as a professional. Renowned as much for his colorful language and strong opinions as for his innovations in therapy, Ellis developed what is now called 'Rational emotive behavior therapy" (REBT) in the mid-1950s. The groundbreaking therapy is based on his main philosophy: that most of our behavioral and emotional problems---from getting over a breakup to handling child abuse---stem from our own irrational beliefs about our situations and how we should be treated. Quickly and powerfully, REBT helps you replace such irrational thoughts with rational ones. Given that these techniques have now become mainstream, it's safe to say that no other individual---not even Freud himself---has had a greater impact on modern psychotherapy. At 87, Ellis Still lectures, writes and sees 70 or more clients per week---his steady stream of gusto and bravado apparently unstoppable" (p. 67).
You are widely known as a very unusual person---as a kind of a character. Do you Agree?
Ellis: "Yes, compared to most therapists, and probably to the general population, because I usually tell it like it is. And I don't give that much of a damn what people think of me for saying it. That's unusual, since the world consists mainly of love slobs who need other people's approval. Most people don't live their own lives very well." (Ellis was married twice briefly and has lived with, but never married, the executive director of his institute for the past 35 years.)
Are you a love slob????
Ellis was at first a Freudian, but then realized that it didn't work very well. He concluded that our problems are rooted in irrational beliefs.
How did this idea emerge?
Ellis: "When I started to get disillusioned with psychoanalysis I reread philosophy and was reminded of the constructivist notion that Epictetus had proposed 2,000 years ago: 'People are disturbed not by events that happen to them, but by their view of them.'"
What is an irrational belief, and how can it interfere with our normal functioning?
Ellis: "If something is irrational, that means it won't work. It's usually unrealistic. People are terrified of other people or difficult projects because they tell themselves that they could fail or be rejected. Failure can lead to sorrow, regret, frustration and annoyance---all healthy, negative feelings without which people couldn't exist. But then they add, 'I absolutely MUST succeed and MUST be loved by significant persons, and if I don't, it's terrible and I'm no good.' Those are irrational beliefs. As long as people keep them, they'll be terrified of life and will put themselves down when they get rejected….the irrational belief includes imperatives like 'must,' 'should' and ought.'"
Ellis: "Our slogan is, 'I will not SHOULD on myself today.'"
Have you been SHOULDING on yourself today?????
Ellis: "There are three musts that hold us back: 'I MUST do well. You MUST treat me well. And the world MUST be easy.'"
Examine how you think. Are you making choices based on any of the above MUSTs????
For more by Ellis: MAKING INTIMATE CONNECTIONS: SEVEN GUIDELINES FOR GREAT RELATIONSHIPS AND BETTER COMMUNICATION by Albert Ellis and Ted Crawford, Impact Press, 2000 and THE SECRET OF OVERCOMING VERBAL ABUSE by Albert Ellis and Marcia Grad Powers, Wilshire Press, 2000.