Psych revolutionaries: Albert Ellis

Dr. Albert Ellis, 1913 – 2007, a psychologist and teacher, crank and unrelenting advocate for mental health, was one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century; a true psych revolutionary.

The video below is a typical mid-seventies staging of a psychotherapeutic intervention, first called ‘Rational Therapy’ and later, after ‘Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy’ popular in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. His process evolved into what is now described as ‘cogitative behavioral therapy,’ or ‘brief therapy,’ and other names, adapted and used by millions to address inter-personal difficulties. The video illustrates what might have been seen at one of Ellis’ ‘Friday Night Workshops’ which he host weekly from Important: these techniques are not singularly useful treatments for mental illness – nor were they intended to be.

Ellis’ work challenged and confronted paradigms of his time. The video, by current standards, is sociopathic and perhaps pornographic, but was de rigor for 1975. It’s current awkwardness expresses the great strides in psychology over the past few decades.



Dr. Ellis wrote dozen of influential books and essays on sex and modern love, including ‘Sex Without Guilt,’ ‘Homosexuality: Its Causes and Cure,’ which he clarified ten years later with,’Sex and the Liberated Man,’ and again with, ‘Sex Without Guilt in the Twenty-First Century.’ He was a skeptic of just about everything, including himself. He also wrote about religion, politics, and self-help for children. He was a prolific speaker, debater and public philosopher. A complete book list is here.

Ellis created the Albert Ellis Institute in New York to teach his methods. After a management dispute Ellis in was dumped from the organization. He filed suit and was later reinstated.

READ – Albert Ellis, 93, Influential Psychotherapist, Dies, NY Times obit July 25, 2007
READ – Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Network
READ – excellent interview with Ellis from psychotherapy.net. Ellis: ‘That’s because you’re probably a therapist and therapists are often pretty crazy.’

The Realist, February 1964

The Realist, February 1964

READ – the rest of Ellis’ essay from The Realist here and here.