Born in 1913 and still alive today, Albert Ellis runs the Rational Emotive Behavior Institute
in New York
City. He is on of America’s most respected therapists and famous for his confrontational and sometimes arrogant
Ellis had a difficult childhood. He suffered from a serious kidney disorder and had strife within his family - his parents divorced when he was 12. He worked through these problems by learning about both Eastern and Western philosophies. He later said that his main influences were Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Spinoza and Bertrand Russell.
Originally aiming to be an accountant, Ellis graduated with a degree in business administration in 1934. He later started his own pants matching business with his brother. In his spare time, he wrote plays and essays including some on sexual liberty – and eventually was seen as an expert on the subject. People started asking for advice and counseling compelling him to go into the field of Psychology. By 1947 Columbia University had awarded him his Doctorate.
During the 50s, Ellis grew frustrated with the passive psychoanalytic technique. He could not stand to nicely listen to his clients when he thought that their problems were based on irrational thinking. He instead took an active role – interrupting his clients while they described their problems and confronting them when he thought that their actions were based on an irrational belief.
The key to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Ellis’s most famous theory, is changing people’s behavior by confronting them with their irrational beliefs and persuading them to adopt rational ones.
The Art and Science of Love, his first successful book was published in 1960. He has now published 54 books and 600 articles on REBT, sex and marriage.