Skip to comments.Albert Ellis, Influential Psychotherapist, Dies at 93
Posted on 07/24/2007 10:11:52 PM PDT by neverdem
Albert Ellis, whose innovative straight-talk approach to psychotherapy made him one of the most influential and provocative figures in modern psychology, died yesterday at his home above the institute he founded in Manhattan. He was 93.
The cause, after extended illness, was kidney and heart failure, said a friend and spokeswoman, Gayle Rosellini.
Dr. Ellis (he had a doctorate but not a medical degree) called his approach rational emotive behavior therapy, or R.E.B.T. Developed in the 1950s, it challenged the deliberate, slow-moving methodology of Sigmund Freud, the prevailing psychotherapeutic treatment at the time.
Where the Freudians maintained that a painstaking exploration of childhood experience was critical to understanding neurosis and curing it, Dr. Ellis believed in short-term therapy that called on patients to focus on what was happening in their lives at the moment and to take immediate action to change their behavior. Neurosis, he said, was just a high-class word for whining.
The trouble with most therapy is that it helps you to feel better, he said in a 2004 article in The New York Times. But you dont get better. You have to back it up with action, action, action.
If his ideas broke with conventions, so did his manner of imparting them. Irreverent, charismatic, he was called the Lenny Bruce of psychotherapy. In popular Friday evening seminars that ran for decades, he counseled, prodded, provoked and entertained groups of 100 or more students, psychologists and others looking for answers, often lacing his comments with obscenities for effect.
His basic message was that all people are born with a talent for crooked thinking, or distortions of perception that sabotage their innate desire for happiness. But he recognized that people also had the capacity to change themselves. The role of therapists, Dr. Ellis argued, is to intervene directly, using...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Haha, my kind of therapist. RIP
Albert Ellis was a pioneer radical cognitive psychologist who changed the terrain of the mental health landscape for fifty years. As of a few years ago he was still active at his Institute in New York City, teaching and supervising and providing therapy in evening walk-in groups for five bucks a whack. A cranky, skeptical, profane and much beloved guy.
A great man, for those of us who know at least a little about cognitive therapy. He will very much be missed.
I studied psychology with the intent of being a psychologist until I decided that some people like being unhappy and I didn’t want to spend my life listening to them whine. I thought the key to solving a lot of unhappiness was simply getting busy. Of course that’s simplistic, but interesting to see a somewhat similar attitude here.
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