Dr. Albert Ellis, 1913 – 2007

Dr. Albert Ellis, one of the most influential persons in modern psychology, passed away last week. Dr. Ellis was best-known for his Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (R.E.B.T.), which is one of the pillars of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

I cannot believe that I heard the news more than a week later, and that too via a 43 folders round-up post. Anyway, here’s a nice obituary from the NY Times and another interesting one from the Boston Herald, from which I quote:

In a world where there is now a pill for just about everything, Albert Ellis had songs – yes, songs. And he insisted that this otherwise dignified gathering of his professional colleagues sing them – at the top of their lungs. (And woe to he or she too inhibited to sing out.)

The “Rational Humorous Songs” from the Ellis songbook ranged from the mildly outrageous to the genuinely profane.

To the tune of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” he sang:

“Beautiful hangup, don’t go away!

Who will befriend me if you do not stay?

though you still make me look like a jerk

Living without you would take so much work!

No, Albert Ellis wasn’t exactly a “take 20 mg. of Prozac and call me in the morning” (not that there’s anything wrong with that) kind of shrink.

My ‘encounter’ with Dr. Ellis happened on a whim, when I picked up one of his books (How to Make Yourself Happy and Remarkably Less Disturbable) a few years ago. The book was easy to read, funny at times, which is unusual for a self-help book, and the techniques mentioned were easy to understand and apply.

I’ve had the book in my to-go-through-again stack but I’ve not gotten around to reading it again. I’m glad that I picked it up when I did though, because Dr. Ellis’ work made a lasting impact on me, and for that I am grateful.

Rest in peace Dr. Ellis.

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