on June 24, 2001
At the time I bought this book, I was unaware of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, had never heard of Dr. Albert Ellis, and wasn't really looking to solve any particular anxiety problem of my own. Always a fan of Dale Carnegie's "How to ..." instructional writings, I figured this would be a new perspective on a popular and important subject. What I learned was that Dr. Ellis has extensive experience (since 1943) in psychotherapy and actually devised REBT in 1955. Like Carnegie, he is quite good at putting his research and wisdom into books (more than sixty), and turning this knowledge into useful information for those who might be trying to solve a problem related to emotion and personality.
To me, the most important part of REBT is "Rational," the exercise of thinking through what is causing anxiety, why your beliefs about it are unfounded (i.e., irrational) and unnecessary, and what you can do to convince yourself that anxiety can be lessened, if not eliminated, through a formulaic rational process. Throughout most of this book, Dr. Ellis clearly describes nearly twenty very specific methods for controlling anxiety. This was all new to me, but I found the methods to make total sense, and imagined that almost all of us could find any number of these helpful in addressing specific anxiety scenarios.
The way in which Dr. Ellis sets forth the varying aspects of REBT is impressive. He's easy to read, and almost grandfatherly in his tone. Each method is portrayed first by explanation, then by documenting a real example using one of his psychotherapy patients. The last three chapters contain 231 "Rational Maxims" which sum up the main points of the methods discussed in detail earlier, and are written in the first person for us to recite when REBT enforcement is needed. Good idea! Some might find this book to be a little repetitive (therapy is like that), and thus may be better off with the abridged version. For someone new to REBT, I'm glad Dr. Ellis presented these methods in a comprehensive manner, and I'll always have the Rational Maxims for review on short order.