Psychological Self-Help

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irrational ideas. Actually, what happens is that eventually your point of
view and style of thinking changes; this change requires conscious
questioning of one's reasoning many times each day. As stated above,
being rational requires constant vigilance every time the brain works.
If you have some particularly harmful irrational ideas, it may take a
few minutes of forceful arguments against those ideas occasionally for
a year or more in order to change your thinking (McMullin, 1986). 
Common problems
The first objection to this method is that several people insist that
it is rational to want everyone to love and approve of you or to want to
always be successful or to want evil to always be punished. Ellis would
say, "If you want to be unhappy, go ahead believing these ridiculous
ideas." Think about it this way: it would be nice if everyone were
always considerate, competent, successful, and loved, but to actually
expect or, more precisely, demand that these ideal conditions exist all
the time is foolish. It is possible to have high aspirations and still
accept failure and shortcomings when they inevitably occur. 
Other problems with this method are, as discussed above, that the
irrational ideas are hard to detect and reject in some cases. They may
not actually exist. In addition, some strong emotions are reasonable
and unavoidable, but in time the continuation of the emotion becomes
irrational. Suppose you have been deceived by an unfaithful lover, it is
hard to tell yourself, while experiencing intense pain, that this kind of
self-serving deception is a fairly common and even rational and
understandable behavior from the deceiver's viewpoint. Such logical
reasoning doesn't make the pain go away. Your pain (or grief or
anger) isn't unreasonable at this point; it is an inevitable emotional
reaction to the loss and hurt. When does the pain-grief-anger become
unreasonable--after one month? two months? three months? six
months? after one year? after three years? (I say two months is
enough suffering!) 
Dr. R. L. Wessler (1992) of Pace University has recently accused
Ellis's form of Rational-Emotive therapy of dogmatically imposing a
view of the world on the patient without much consideration of why
the patient sees the situation as he/she does. For instance, when a
client in other forms of Cognitive Therapy says he/she couldn't pass a
college course, the therapist is likely to simply suggest the client check
out that expectation in reality. The Cognitive Therapist wouldn't
instantly and bluntly call that expectation of failure an "irrational,"
crazy idea. (In this instance, the client might be right.) But when a
client of a Rational-Emotional therapist says "I'd die if I didn't make all
A's," the follower of Ellis would immediately challenge that idea as
irrational (and actual death does seem improbable). The RET
therapist's focus isn't on the patient's background that results in
thinking that getting all A's is crucial; the focus is on getting the
patient to see that the expectation of all A's in all circumstances is an
unreasonable demand. It certainly is a dogmatic and dynamic
approach for the RET therapist to say that it is unreasonable to insist
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