Limitations, error, REBT, Page 2


The limitations and errors of REBT theory and practice; Page 2…

By Dr Jim Byrne, 26th January 2021

Continued from Page 1.***


Jim and the Buddha, 2On these pages, I have reviewed some prominent and obvious errors which I found in the system of REBT, developed by Dr Albert Ellis in the 1950s – before Attachment theory had become well established; and before the heyday of Developmental psychology and neuroscience.  (And before the psychodynamic system of therapy had been hauled out of the clutches of Sigmund and Anna Freud by Allan Schore and Daniel Siegel; and before Bessel van der Kolk got around to writing ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ – which was assisted to some degree by the earlier researches of Stephen Porges [on the Polyvagal Theory of autonomic functioning). REBT is a simplistic system of Extreme Stoical endurance of whatever frustrations and problems you find in your life.  It ignores the role of the body in creating and recording emotional experiences, and reduces the whole of human cognitive-emotive-embodied processing capability to this: Everything is determined by your Beliefs!  (Or your Beliefs about your Inferences!) This tends to absolve all politicians of blame for presiding over economic and social systems which oppress and madden ordinary ‘citizens’.

It is madness to deny the impact of the social environment upon the body-brain-mind of the client.  It is madness to blame the client for their emotional disturbances.  And it is madness to copy the delusions of a first century Roman slave (Epictetus), instead of being informed by the research evidence of modern social psychology, neuroscience, and interpersonal neurobiology!

…For more, please visit the ABC Bookstore Online for REBT Critiques.***


The Bamboo Paradox: The limits of human flexibility in a cruel world – and how to protect, defend and strengthen yourself

Finding the Golden Mean that leads to strength and viable flexibility, in order to be happy, healthy and realistically successful

A, Front cover-2By Dr Jim Byrne.

With contributed chapters by Renata Taylor-Byrne


The Institute for E-CENT Publications: 2020


Are human beings like bamboo?  Are we designed to withstand unlimited pressure, stress and strain? Is our destiny to be sacrificed on the altar of ‘flexible working arrangements’?

We live in a world in which there are dark forces that wish us to forget that we are fleshy bodies, with physical and mental needs; and physical and mental limitations; and to be willing to function like mere cogs in the wheels of somebody else’s financial or technological empire.

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) has played into this narrative, and given it philosophical support, by promoting a form of Extreme Stoicism in the name of therapy and wisdom, which it patently is not. (General Cognitive Behaviour Therapy [CBT] also supports this agenda, but to a lesser degree, or in a less obvious way! And some forms of Extreme Buddhism also advocate ‘detachment’ from material concerns, such as the need for a balanced life!)

In this book, I review the research that we have done on the limits of human endurance, and the determinants of that endurance – as well as identifying a viable philosophy of life – which will help you to optimize your strength and flexibility, while at the same time taking care of your health and happiness.

If you want to take good care of yourself in the modern mad-market, you could benefit from studying this book. It will provide you with both a compass and a suit of armour which will support you with the challenges and battles you will inevitably face.

Click for more information.***


Paperback copy: £14.99 GBP***


Kindle eBook: £5.99 GBP.***


How to Resolve Conflict and Unhappiness: Especially during Festive Celebrations:

Coping with and resolving frustrations, disappointments and interpersonal clashes at family celebrations like Christmas, Yuletide, Hanukkah, Eid, and Thanksgiving

Front cover 1Dr Jim Byrne (With Renata Taylor-Byrne)

Conflict can happen in families at any time of year.  It jut so happens that the first Monday after the Christmas & New Year annual holidays is called ‘Divorce Day’, because that is when the highest number of divorce petitions is issued. And it seems most likely that the other major family holiday times are the runners up in the divorce stakes.  However, what is hidden under these divorce statistics is the mountain of personal and social misery that precedes such drastic ‘solutions’ to repeated conflict, disappointments and interpersonal clashes.

But there is a better way to deal with these problems. Rather than letting the misery build up over time, you can take control of both your own mind, and the way you communicate within your family and society.  You can insulate your social relationships from constant or repeated misery and unhappiness; and learn to have a wonderful life with your family and friends.

The solutions have been assembled by Dr Jim Byrne in this book about how to re-think/re-feel/re-frame your encounters with your significant others; how to communicate so they will listen; how to listen so they can communicate with you; and how to manage your lifestyle for optimum peace, happiness and success in all your relationships.


Don’t let your relationships deteriorate. Get the solution today. Click this link for more.***


REBT Discounts the Human Body

Humans are seen a simple ‘belief machines’


Front cover, Discounting our bodiesBefore Albert Ellis began to develop his theory of psychotherapy, in the 1950’s – see Ellis (1962) – the dominant therapies in New York City were Freudian and post-Freudian analysis, and Behaviour Therapy.  Those theories of psychotherapy contained, at their core, a physical organism: the ‘It’, or the human body.

Albert Ellis was a damaged man, who had experienced significant levels of neglect, bordering on abandonment, including spending months in hospital, at the age of four years, and again at the age of six years, with almost no visits from his parents. There is also evidence of earlier neglect at home.

It seems he developed a particular personality adaptation[1] to the ways in which his parents ignored his emotional needs. This caused him to deny his own need for emotional comfort; and he became highly stoical (just like a substantial proportion of humans raised in industrialized societies).  Then, as a teenager, he discovered books on the philosophy of Stoicism – including the writings of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca.  Those writings echoed with his own adaptation to neglect and indifference; and to emotional suffering in general. And he created his theory of psychotherapy under the influence of those philosophies of self-disregard or self-neglect; and in the process he denied or dumped the importance of the human body (which was central to earlier theories of therapy) and replaced it with a disembodied “belief system”.  A disembodied mind on legs!


This book is a brief, summary critique of the main errors contained in the foundations of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) theory.  And especially the invalidity of the ABC model, which asserts that nothing other than beliefs intervene between a noxious experience and an emotional-behavioural reaction. (The body is ignored!)

The aim of this book is to deconstruct the ABC’s of REBT/CBT, and extreme Stoicism, and to replace them with a more holistic, more humane, and more realistic model of the whole-body-brain-mind-environment-complexity, which is what a human being truly is.

But this is not mere humanism of the kind developed by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.  This is a new kind of holistic, organism-environment-dialectic. It could not have been anticipated by Dr Albert Ellis, who learned his psychology in the 1930’s and 40’s.  My critique of REBT depends upon the most recent neuroscientific discoveries; their elaboration into ‘affect-regulation theory’ and ‘interpersonal neurobiology’ (IPN); plus very recent research on the gut-brain-connection[2]. And also the biochemistry of physical exercise and the stress response. This new, cutting-edge philosophy of psychotherapy is called Emotive-Cognitive Embodied Narrative Therapy (E-CENT).

Against Albert Ellis’s ABC model, we offer the Holistic-SOR model, which summarizes the many variables that intervene between our experiences and our emotional and behavioural performances or outputs. These include: diet and nutrition; sleep and relaxation; physical activity and exercise; family of origin experiences; current relationship experiences; current external stressors, including socioeconomic factors, and living conditions; etc.


Whole cover, Discounting our bodies

Part 1 describes the background to this critique; and who the book is intended for. Target audiences include REBT and CBT practitioners; students of counselling and therapy; individuals interested in the distinction between moderate and extreme Stoicism and Buddhism; and many others.

I then describe the small element of REBT which I have retained in my approach to counselling and psychotherapy (which is a slightly modified form of Rational Emotive Imagery). And then I present a brief refutation of the core irrational beliefs of REBT, which are: demandingness; awfulizing; low-frustration tolerance; and condemning and damning of self, other people and the world.

One of the points that I make about the ABC model is this: The ABC model is an equation derived from the first century, extreme Stoic philosopher, and former slave, Epictetus.  It did not come out of cognitive science.  And it cannot be fitted into cognitive science as a significant element or component.

The ABC model could also be seen as an oversimplification of the Stimulus-Organism-Response (SOR) model of the neo-Behaviourists, who believed that the state of the organism as a whole determined its response to any incoming stimulus.


Front cover, Discounting our bodiesThen, in Part 2, I explore theories of human suffering. This includes a consideration of the Stoic and Buddhist theories of suffering; Freud’s theory; plus Alan Watts, Melanie Klein and John Bowlby’s perspectives. This is followed by a brief consideration of the behaviourists, cognitive psychology, and the emergence of Albert Ellis’s theory. I then distinguish between long-suffering and short suffering approaches to therapy; and I am definitely in favour of the shortest possible approach – brief therapy – but not at the cost of dumping the client’s history and feelings.

I then describe my ‘positionality’: or how I am positioned in relation to the discipline of REBT. I begin with how I got into studying Albert Ellis’s writings, to deal with my own career crisis; and then training as an REBT therapist; and then practicing as an REBT therapist for about 10+ years, until the death of Albert Ellis, in 2007.  My main moves away from REBT occurred between 2007 and 2009.

In this book, I will argue that Dr Albert Ellis was, to a significant degree, an extreme Stoic, and that to that degree he was a destructive, harmful influence, not just within the world of counselling and therapy, but – because there are no Chinese walls between the therapy room and the wider society – also on the political-economic discourse of the period from 1975 onwards, when some of the worst forms of neoliberal insensitivity to the suffering of the poor arose in the US and the UK.

…End of extract.  For more, please go to


[1] Joines and Stewart (2002), in the References.

[2] Enders, G. (2015) Gut: The inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ.  London: Scribe Publications.


End of page 2.

For more, please go to REBT’s limitations and errors, Page 3.