Albert Ellis, the renowned creator of one of the most successful forms of psychotherapy — Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) — offers this candid self-assessment, which reveals how he overcame his own mental and physical problems using the techniques of REBT. Part memoir and part self-help guide, this very personal story traces the private struggles that Ellis faced from early childhood to well into his adult life. Whether you are already familiar with Ellis’s many best-selling psychology books or are discovering his work for the first time, you will gain many insights into how to deal with your problems by seeing how Ellis learned to cope with his own serious challenges.
In his early life, Ellis was faced with a major physical disability, chronic nephritis, which plagued him from age five to nine and led to hospitalization. This experience then caused the emotional reaction of separation anxiety. At this time he also suffered from severe, migraine-like headaches, which persisted into his forties. Later in life, he realized that some of his emotional upset was the result of initially taking parental neglect too seriously. Active and energetic by nature, he gradually learned that the best way to cope with any problem, physical or emotional, was to stop "catastrophizing" and to do something to correct it.
As Ellis points out in all of his work, when faced with adversity, we must realize that we have a real choice, either to think rationally about the problem or to react irrationally. The first choice leads to healthy consequences—normal emotions such as sorrow, regret, frustration, or annoyance, which are justifiable reactions to troubling situations. The second choice leads to the unhealthy consequences of anxiety, depression, rage, and low self-esteem. When we recognize irrational beliefs as such, we must then use our reason to dispute their validity. Ellis goes on to describe how these techniques helped him to cope with many other adult emotional problems, including failure in love affairs, shame, anger, distress over his parents’ divorce, stress from others’ reactions to his atheistic convictions, and upset due to his attitudes about academic and professional setbacks.
Honest and unflinching yet always positive and forward-looking, Ellis demonstrates how to gain and grow from trying experiences through rational thinking.