Blog Post No. 156
21st July 2017
Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, 2017
Dr Jim’s Counselling Blog: The tenth anniversary of the death of Albert Ellis…
Albert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), which is sometimes called Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (RE&CBT), died on 24th July 2007. So we are very close to the tenth anniversary.
Since that event, Renata and I have posted something on each anniversary about Albert Ellis and REBT. Initially, those posts were very positive about the man and his theory of therapy. But as time passed, and we found more and more problems with the man (from his autobiography, All Out!) and from our reflective analyses of his theoretical propositions, our posts became more and more distant, and more and more critical.
Books about Ellis and REBT
In 2013, I published a book on the childhood of Albert Ellis, which was an analysis of the ways in which he was mistreated and virtually abandoned at times by his parents, and the effect of these early negative experiences on his psychological development. Here are the basic details:
A Wounded Psychotherapist: Albert Ellis’s childhood and the strengths and limitations of REBT, by Dr Jim Byrne
A critical review of the childhood of Albert Ellis and the impact of his suffering on the shape of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)
‘A Wounded psychotherapist’ is a critical enquiry by Dr Jim Byrne. It is an analysis of both the childhood of Dr Albert Ellis (the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy [REBT]), and how some of those childhood experiences most likely gave rise to certain features of his later philosophy of psychotherapy. If you have ever wondered what the roots of REBT might have been, then this is the book for you. it explores the childhood difficulties of Albert Ellis, and links those difficulties forward to the ways in which REBT was eventually shaped. It also identified the strengths and weaknesses of REBT, and proposes an agenda for reform of this radical system of psychotherapy. Available now from Amazon, in two formats:
Paperback: for as little as £6.66 GBP
Kindle: for as little as £6.89 GBP
Buy it now: A Wounded Psychotherapist: The childhood of Albert Ellis, and the limitations of REBT/CBT
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However, in that book, I was still very soft on some of Ellis’s major errors, such as his false definition of ‘awfulizing’, and his mistaken assumption that, just because ‘demandingness’ is often a ‘sufficient condition’ for human disturbance, therefore it is also a ‘necessary condition’, which, the Buddha’s followers would argue, it is not. Any significant degree of desiring that the present be different from how it is, could, in theory, cause significant levels of negative affect.
Tenth Anniversary of the Death of Albert Ellis:
On this anniversary, I have today posted some feedback from Dr Meredith Nisbet of my book on the childhood of Albert Ellis. This is what she wrote:
“Book Review – by Dr Meredith Nisbet:
“I learned so much about human nature reading your book (Jim) about (Albert) Ellis. I also learned from your book about Jim Byrne. The similarities are obvious. The differences are where most of the learning comes. You overcame your childhood experiences; he lived with his experiences, but the differences were that he needed help to conquer his experiences, but he never was able to “normalize” as you did. I’d like to hear your comments on what made the difference for you – something within you or the people who helped you? Was his problem something he missed or didn’t think he needed? I think it was more the latter. What do you think?”
To see my response to her questions, please go here: https://abc-counselling.org/albert-ellis-a-wounded-psychotherapist/
Since 2013, my thinking about Albert Ellis and REBT has moved on again, into a more detailed critique of the foundational ideas underpinning his basic conclusions about human disturbance. This work of mine is described in my latest boon on Ellis and REBT:
REBT Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes
The book that reveals the fundamental falsehoods at the heart of REBT/CBT
At a moment in history when thousands of counsellors and therapists are being coerced and cajoled into using the ‘flavour of the month’ therapy – CBT – in order to keep their jobs and incomes, everything is changed by one action! Dr Jim Byrne has produced a devastating critique of the original form of CBT: known as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).
Many of his criticisms of REBT apply equally to all forms of CBT which utilize the ABC model of human disturbance.
Dr Byrne begins by showing that Dr Ellis was wrong to claim that he had evidence that people are upset by their thinking, plus their thinking about their thinking. In a line by line analysis of the relevant text from Dr Ellis, Dr Byrne destroys the basis of this false claim.
He then explores the value and veracity of some of the core principles of Stoicism , which are built into REBT/CBT, and find that they do not stand up to scrutiny!
There are at least seven key errors in the foundations of REBT, many of which overlap CBT practice.
For anybody to practice these forms of therapy, without taking Dr Byrne’s critique into account, would be a grave error and a serious miscalculation. These systems of therapy are enjoying a short-lived popularity which will end in tears. If you are being forced on to this particular bus, now is the time to object – to present a strong counter argument against this madness.
This madness which denies the impact of the social environment upon the body-brain-mind of the client. This madness which blames the client for their emotional disturbances. This madness which copies the delusions of a first century Roman slave, instead of the research evidence of modern social psychology, neuroscience, and interpersonal neurobiology!
Get this book today, if you want to retrieve your right to work for the client; to feel with the client; to champion the rights of the client; and to refuse to go along with the idea that helping the client to repress their feelings, in the name of Stoical bravery, is an adequate ‘therapeutic solution’.
Get the book here, now:
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Albert Ellis was a man of his time, which was a long time ago. He modelled his philosophy of psychotherapy[y on the idealistic notions of a Roman slave, instead of on modern theories of social psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and so on. He grossly oversimplified the nature of human disturbance; blamed the client for ‘choosing’ to upset themselves; and denied the value of moral language.
We no longer need to reflect upon the contribution of Dr Ellis. It was very small. His contribution is evaluated in the book above: Unfit for Therapeutic Purposes.
That’s all for now.
Dr Jim Byrne
Doctor of Counselling
Telephone: 01422 843 629