|Hello REBT Mates!
As many of you know, two of the significant sources that Dr. Ellis drew upon in developing REBT were Stoicism and General Semantics (GS). Unfortunately, he doesn’t explore these system in any depth, but does refer to them in many of his books, acknowledging them as important contributions. The threads of both systems are visibly woven throughout the tapestry of REBT for those who know how to look for them.
Dr. Ellis does talk some about E-Prime, a subset of GS. In fact, one of the early editions of A New Guide to Rational Living is written entirely in E-Prime, a special branch of the English Language which omits all forms of the verb “to be.”
Stoicism today has become rather popular and accessible, and for good reasons. Firstly, it is surprisingly practical and easy to understand. Also, the ancient Greeks often taught and propagated their ideas in bite-sized quotations which were “sticky” and memorable in an age before the printing press and books were not in wide distribution or available to ordinary citizens. Knowledge was meme-driven millennia before Richard Dawkins came up with the term “meme.” Therefore, ironically, Stoicism fits in nicely with social media and modern culture.
Unfortunately, GS is not like that. Alfred Korzybski’s main work Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics is 900 pages, available in hard copy second-hand Amazon for around $75. Fortunately, there is also an abridged version, 300 pages, you can get on Kindle. Still, very dense stuff and no wonder more people are not familiar with it, never mind fluent in it, and that includes me ==> Science and Sanity on Amazon
This morning I read and participated in a discussion on the REBT facebook Group
that looks at some of the complexities of the human nervous system that are necessarily not addressed by the REBT ABC model. For a more sophisticated and “realistic” understanding of what is actually going on with the REBT’s theory of thinking-emoting-behaving, some familiarity with GS or a kindred system is probably necessary.
This discussion, I think, is a step in that direction. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Sun 15 May 2022
ORIGINAL POST by LP: In Donald Meichenbaum’s book _Cognitive-Behaviour Modification: An Integrative Approach_, he writes concerning REBT:
“”Once the patient entertains the possibility that his maldaptive behaviours result from what he tells himself, then a whole set of therapeutic assignments makes sense to him.
_Whether the patient did or did not actually talk to himself prior to therapy is less important than that he is willing to view his behaviour as if it were affected by self-statements and mod_…
REX: ABC is a helpful (very helpful) lens and model. It works. However, it is hardly the only thing going on when people upset themselves, and there are other valid lenses through which we view thinking-emoting-behaving. In future, we may find better models than ABC. ACT and the Third Wave people certainly believe they have.
SA: Yep. That’s a reasonable interpretation of what he is saying. I agree that if push comes to shove and someone says REBT is not a true representation of reality it is possible to grudgingly concede the point but to still insist that REBT works. Newtonian physics is not a true representation of reality and still (mostly) works. It’s what took man to the moon. I myself believe REBT to be true (and not merely useful) until there is evidence to the contrary.
REX: Great answer, SA!
The word “reality” is messy and troublesome. I prefer the GS (General Semantics) term WIGO for “What is Going on.” It allows for the possibility that there is an all-inclusive, objective reality, while at the same time, making it easy to understand that WIGO for me, may not be WIGO for your or for the other guy.
Another famous GS phrase “The Map is not the territory.” Maps come in many different shapes and sizes, and especially serve different functions and purposes. For example, a map of the subway system is rather minimal but is the perfect instrument for getting to where you are going on the subway. However, that same map would not help you navigate to a particular address in the city, or even a particular street. At the same time a detailed map of the city, excellent as it might be, won’t get you to where you want to go on the subway. A world globe might be a very good instrument for understanding the true relationship and distance of, say, Tokyo to Cairo. However, it would only be minimally helpful in locating Fukuoka or getting there from Osaka. It would be totally useless in helping you locate you friends house in Kyoto.
Point being that ABC is a brilliant map for what it does. It is especially important as a teaching/learning device in using REBT. However, it is limited. It does not presume to, nor could it explain everything that is going on in the complex, bi-directional, mobius strip relationship of humans to their environment(s). It cannot account for all of the psycho-physical processes and perceptions going on under and around the usual way we describe thinking-emoting-behaving.
More importantly, ABC cannot begin to explain (nor “should” it) how the nervous system and the environment are not separate entities; they inform one another. That may seem a little heavy if this is the first time you have considered it. You really need to know something about GS for that. However, there is a similar dichotomy which has come to be widely regarded as a false-dichotomy. That is, the distinction between mind and body. I suspect that the distinction between the nervous system and the environment will eventually also come to be seen as a false-dichotomy much much in the way that mind-body already has.
Sun 15 May 2022, 02:49 pm
Please share your thoughts, questions and comments in the box below.
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Originally posted 2022-05-15 13:43:18.
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