(3) Some pain, regrets, and sadness for a few days or
weeks but not intense, lingering anger or deep,
Rational-Emotive therapy is more challenging and aggressive than
most other therapies. These therapists immediately point out and
attack the client's irrational thoughts and unreasonable expectations.
They directly suggest more reasonable ways of viewing the self, the
world, and the future. They also assign homework designed to correct
What are some of the other harmful irrational ideas and thoughts?
Everyone should accept and approve of me; it is awful when
someone criticizes me.
I should always be able, successful, and "on top of things."
I must have love to live (in some cases--a particular person's
love, as in the example above).
If I am criticized or rejected or make a mistake, it means I'm
not liked, unlovable, and incompetent...it's awful!
External events, such as bad luck, other people, a sick society,
cause unhappiness. I can't control these things, so it's not my
fault things are so awful.
Note two things: first, a, b, and c are unreasonable expectations,
often impossible goals. They are, of course, nice, common and in
many ways useful wishes; everyone would like to be approved,
successful, and loved, but we can't demand that our wishes always
come true. When things don't go our way, it isn't something awful to
go into a rage or deep depression about. Although an event may be
regrettable, it is always a psychologically understandable and
behaviorally lawful outcome. Later we will see that Karen Horney
referred to these insistent neurotic needs or demands that things be
the way we want them to be as "the tyranny of the shoulds."
Secondly, d and e illustrate other kinds of faulty logic that might
underlie depression (see cognitive therapy) and other exaggerated
emotions. Rational-Emotive techniques and self-help methods are
discussed in chapter 14.
Some scientists doubt that irrational ideas and faulty logic cause
depression. Some doubters believe the sad feelings existed before the
sad-helpless thoughts, i.e. that depressing genes or hormones or life
events lead to our negative cognitive styles (Barnett & Gotlib, 1988).
Other doubters, like Robert Zajonc, believe that emotion and cognition
are independent systems and, furthermore, irrational behavior is
based on emotions, not irrational thoughts (Cordes, 1984). In spite of
criticism, cognitive explanations are the most accepted explanations of
depression among psychologists today.