Saturday, May 27, 2017

Albert Ellis' New Guide for Rational Living book review

    We tell ourselves lies and half-truths about how things, others & ourselves should be, pretty much all the time and we end up believing it all. That's the root of Albert Ellis' New Guide for Rational Living and also the starting point to rationally fixing many neuroses.
    In this book Ellis (along with Robert A. Harper) explains how these lies come about, their harm and how they can be successfully tackled. These irrational beliefs, as they call them, are:
    1. You must have love or approval from all the people you find significant.
    2. You must prove thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving.
    3. When people act obnoxiously and unfairly, you should blame and damn them, and see them as bad, wicked, or rotten individuals.
    4. You have to view things as awful, terrible, horrible, and catastrophic when you get seriously frustrated, treated unfairly, or rejected.
    5. Emotional misery comes from external pressures and that you have little ability to control or change your feelings.
    6. If something seems dangerous or fearsome, you must preoccupy yourself with and make yourself anxious about it.
    7. You can more easily avoid facing many life difficulties and self responsibilities that undertake more rewarding forms of self-discipline.
    8. Your past remains all-important and that because something strongly influenced your life, it has to keep determining your feelings and behavior today.
    9. People and things should turn out better than they do and that you must view it as awful and horrible if you do not find good solutions to life's grim realities.
    10. You can achieve maximum human happiness by inertia and inaction or by passively and uncommittedly "enjoying yourself."

    Note the 'musts' and 'shoulds'.

    Each of these beliefs are given a chapter and given the same general exposition. First, the idea is presented and explained, point by point on how it is rubbish. Then, the authors give a transcript or two from their own patient interviews showing how they beat down their patient's resistance to sanity over hogwash. Finally, again point by point, give guidelines for self-adjustment.

    It appears to me that great many an unhappiness can be dealt with this approach. However, I believe that for some others this can only be a starting point and that the help of a proffesional is to be encouraged. Recommended by itself and also as a modern approach to Stoic texts.


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