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A Guide to Rational Living

by Albert Ellis, Robert A. Harper

Other authors: Melvin Powers (Foreword)

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536435,497 (3.87)3
New, Updated Third Edition of A Guide to Rational Living... An International Classic in the Field of Psychology By the creators of the most popular forms of therapy in the world: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). Considered by Many to Be the Best Book On Psychotherapy Ever Written If you have the rigorous honesty necessary to conduct self-analysis, this book can be the most important one you have read. For although it makes no promises, it can help you more than all the other self-help books put together. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy can teach any intelligent person how to stop feeling miserable about practically anything. Direct, get-to-the-heart-of-the-problem methods teach you what you often do to needlessly upset yourself and what you can do, instead, to make yourself emotionally stronger. These practical, proven methods of changing your self-defeating emotions and behaviors reflect the authors' vast experience as therapists and as teachers of therapists from all over the world, and have been backed by literally hundreds of research studies. A Guide to Rational Living provides much sought-after answers for individuals with problems, and it can help everyone to feel better about themselves and to deal with their lives more effectively.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
Ellis does what he calls Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, so you can have good behavior if you emote rationally. When you think amiss you create problems for yourself, and less troublesome thinking relieves these problems.

Rational emoting can be distinguished from other psychological or rational theories. A poet in psychoanalysis would want to just feel all their feelings as deeply as possible as an end in itself, and a philosopher or (especially he’s not a) monastic would probably make their goal to feel perfectly unemotional, but rational emoting is in the middle: feel whatever you want, but don’t hurt yourself. It’s very similar to many forms of philosophy, but it’s attenuated in strictness. (“Not *completely* true—but true enough!”)

I don’t use rational emoting exclusively, but I think it’s important to keep all your strategies straight so you can understand yourself. (Eg, he usually likes to implicitly distance himself from Christianity, but he’s certainly not illogically anti-Christian or against all Christians equally regardless of what they say.)

…. He’s right that insight into why you have a problem needs to be followed up with taking up responsibility for yourself and doing something different, not just brooded on.

It still is rationalistic or insight-based, though, as it’s basically a book about treating cognitive distortions, something that’s certainly important.

…. Although Ellis does use Epictetus against Freud before that was cool, it’s important to realize it’s also post-Freudian rather than pre-Freudian because it’s based on his 20th century experiences as a therapist; he knows that people have cognitive distortions because he’s seen and heard it all, not just because he read it in a book.
  goosecap | Aug 20, 2021 |
Albert Ellis was one of the first self-help writers. He was a prolific writer. This was one of his first. The principles in this book aren't terribly original, but he manages to bring something new to the presentation.
  bertmung | Jan 4, 2011 |
This is not a "How to Hypnotize" book. It is the presursor to Cognitive-Behavioral -- the precursor to both being Stoicism.

The cover photograph does appear to be early 1960s (which is not a confession that I've actually ever seen such a hairdo).
2 vote JNagarya | Jun 26, 2008 |
A bizarre 'how to hypnotise' book which I understand is still in print today. I just love the illustration on the front cover of the 1975 edition I have. ( )
  veracity | Jun 11, 2008 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Albert Ellisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harper, Robert A.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Powers, MelvinForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Tackling Your Dire Need for Approval

Several powerful Irrational Beliefs (IBs) often stop you from warding off panic and rage. One of these, with we shall label Irrational Belief No. 1, is the idea that you must—yes, must—have love or approval from all the significant people in your life.

“But,” you may quickly interject, “do not most psychologists keep insisting that people need approval and that they cannot live happily without it?”

Yes, they do. Wrongly! People strongly desire approval and would be much less happy if the received none. In modern society, moreover, you could hardly survive if you did not get some approval. For who would rent or sell you living quarters, provide you with food, or furnish you with companionship?

Nonetheless, adults do not need approval. The word need derives from the Middle English word nede, the Anglo-Saxon nead, and the Indo-European term nauto—which mean to collapse with weariness. In English it mainly means: necessity, compulsion, obligation, something utterly required for life and happiness.

Because people can live in isolation without dying and without feeling completely miserable, and because they can refuse to disturb themselves because the members of their community do not like them, obviously some persons do not need social acceptance. Indeed, a few do not even want love. But most men and women do want some kind of approval, even when they defensively protest that they do not. They prefer or desire acceptance and feel happier when they obtain it. But wants, preferences, and desires are not needs or necessities. We would like our cravings fulfilled; but we rarely perish when they are frustrated.
Reducing Your Dire Fears of Failure

If you only overwhelm yourself with dire love needs, you will create enough misery to last you a lifetime. If you wish to feel ever more miserable, you can easily add one more idiotic notion—namely, Irrational Belief No. 2: The idea that you absolutely must be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving. Or a saner but still foolish variation: The idea that you at least must be competent or talented in some important area.

Many of our clients have nicely—and tragically—suffered with extreme fears of failure and incompetence that commonly assail people who believe these ideas. Sara, a brilliant and talented woman, was proficient in solitary activities, such as writing and composing music; but refused to participate in any group experiences for fear she would not do as well as the other participants. In her writing and composing, moreover, she rarely put anything down on paper, but mainly created in her head: so that she would not risk others scrutinizing her efforts.

Patricia, an exceptionally bright woman, panicked that she could not hold a brilliant conversation with the guest at her own dinner parties, and usually clammed up and said virtually nothing the whole evening. At other people’s gatherings, however, where she did not have the responsibility of being a great hostess, she conversed quite fluently and well.
How to Stop Blaming And Start Living

We can actually put the essence of neurosis in a single word: blaming—or damning. If you would stop, really stop, damning yourself, others, and unkind conditions, you would find it almost impossible to upset yourself emotionally—about anything. Yes, anything.

But you probably do, frequently, condemn yourselves and others. And at times you may strongly hold Irrational Belief No. 3: The idea that people absolutely must not act obnoxiously and unfairly and that when they do, you should blame and damn them, and see them as bad, wicked, or rotten individuals. This idea, which underlies much of our interpersonal relations, is irrational for several important reasons:

1. The idea that we can label others as bad people springs from the doctrine of free will. Although we cannot say that humans have no free choice whatever, and although REBT says that they can often choose to upset or not upset themselves, they still have relatively little free will. As many studies have shown, humans have genetic or inborn tendencies to behave in certain ways—including tendencies to learn and to develop conditioned responses. Then, as a result of their innate and acquired tendencies, once they go in a “good” or “bad” direction, and hold philosophies that encourage them to follow certain pathways, they find it most difficult (although not impossible) to change. Consequently, condemning them for their wrongdoings can unfairly attribute to them a complete freedom of choice of behavior that they simply do not have.
How to Feel Frustrated But Not Depressed or Enraged

Ninety-nine and nine-tenths percent of the people in this world often follow a crazy notion: that they must feel miserable or depressed when they are frustrated. Even many psychologists believe the famous Dollard-Miller view: the frustration leads to aggression. How wrong!

The frustration-aggression theory stems from Irrational Belief No. 4: The idea that you have to see things as being awful, terrible, horrible, and catastrophic when you are seriously frustrated or treated unfairly. This idea is misleading for the following reasons:

1. Although you may find it very unpleasant when you do not get what you want out of life, you do not find it as catastrophic or horrible unless you see it that way. When things go badly, you have the choice of believing, “I don’t like this situation. Now let me see what I can do to change it. And if I can’t change it, my life is tough but not really awful.” Or you can believe, “I don’t like this situation. I can’t stand it! It drives me crazy! It absolutely shouldn’t be this way! It simply has to change, otherwise I can’t possibly be happy.” The second of these Beliefs will make you miserable, self-pitying, depressed, or enraged. The first Belief will lead you to feel frustrated and regretful but not necessarily dejected or furious.
Controlling Your Own Emotional Destiny

Most people spend so much time and energy trying to do the impossible—namely, to change and control the actions of others—that they wrongly believe that they cannot achieve a quite possible goal—to change their own thoughts and acts. They firmly hold and rarely challenge what we call Irrational Belief No. 5: The idea you must be miserable when you have pressures and difficult experiences; and that you have little ability to control, and cannot change, your disturbed feelings.

This idea makes little sense for several reasons. One is that outside people and events can, at worst, do nothing but harm you physically or cause you various kinds of discomfort or deprivation. Most of the pain they “cause” you (especially your feeling of horror, panic, shame, guilt, and hostility) stem from your taking people’s criticism and rejections too seriously, by your convincing yourself that you cannot stand their disapproval, and by your strongly believing that hassles and inconveniences are awful.
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New, Updated Third Edition of A Guide to Rational Living... An International Classic in the Field of Psychology By the creators of the most popular forms of therapy in the world: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). Considered by Many to Be the Best Book On Psychotherapy Ever Written If you have the rigorous honesty necessary to conduct self-analysis, this book can be the most important one you have read. For although it makes no promises, it can help you more than all the other self-help books put together. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy can teach any intelligent person how to stop feeling miserable about practically anything. Direct, get-to-the-heart-of-the-problem methods teach you what you often do to needlessly upset yourself and what you can do, instead, to make yourself emotionally stronger. These practical, proven methods of changing your self-defeating emotions and behaviors reflect the authors' vast experience as therapists and as teachers of therapists from all over the world, and have been backed by literally hundreds of research studies. A Guide to Rational Living provides much sought-after answers for individuals with problems, and it can help everyone to feel better about themselves and to deal with their lives more effectively.

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