Using RET to Reduce Psychological Dysfunction Associated with Supernatural Belief Systems

By Robb, Harold B., III | Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, January 1, 1993 | Go to article overview

Using RET to Reduce Psychological Dysfunction Associated with Supernatural Belief Systems


Robb, Harold B., III, Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy


This paper provides a general approach to using Rational-Emotive Therapy with any person experiencing psychological dysfunction in relation to their supernatural belief system. It shows how the principles of RET are used when supernaturalism is: (1) used metaphorically, (2) conceptualized as origin, (3) in concert with RET and (4) in conflict with RET.

A number of authors have attempted to show a compatibility of Rational- Emotive Therapy (RET) with Judeo-Christian philosophy (DiGiuseppe, Robin, & Dryden, 1990; Hauck & Grau, 1968; Johnson, 1992; Lawrence, 1987; Powell, 1976; Robb, 1988; Young, 1984), and at least one author has argued that it is incompatible (Wessler, 1984). This paper outlines general strategic conceptualizations for using RET, not only with Judeo-Christian believers, but with any person using a supernatural belief system to justify his or her general approach to life, and who is experiencing emotional and or behavioral dysfunction in relation to it.

I have intentionally chosen the word, "supernatural" rather than religious or theistic. Many people use the word "religion" to mean nothing more than their guiding life principles, regardless of whether the basis for these principles is natural or supernatural, with the consequence that the meaning of "religion" is often unclear. Other belief systems, e.g. Confucianism and some forms of Buddhism, contain no notion of a god or gods, rendering "theistic" too restrictive. By supernatural, I mean the notion of beings or worlds which are beyond the realm of the natural, empirical universe, and natural, empirical ways of experiencing and knowing the universe.

DiGiuseppe et al. (1990) note that the writings of Albert Ellis on RET not only contain his own personal philosophy of living, but also contain (1) a general RET philosophy of living; (2) a theory of psychopathology; and (3) a theory of psychotherapy and behavior change. In all three of these aspects, RET aims at being both scientific and humanistic (Ellis & Dryden, 1987, pp. 2-3). As such, it contains criteria, which space limitations prevent me from detailing, for how beliefs are to be justified. Nevertheless, despite a recent statement that, "Rational-Emotive Psychology (REP) does not 'advocate' atheism," (Ellis, 1992), it is clear that RET does not offer any criteria for the justification of belief based on supernaturalism.

Instead, RET adopts the kind of natural, empirically grounded epistemology which we generally call "scientific," and holds that claims of fact must be falsifiable, at least in principle (Popper, 1959,1963). Since claims about the supernatural, such as the existence of a god or gods who issue rules by which people are to live, are notoriously incapable of either demonstration or falsification (Russell, 1984), RET rejects the supernatural as a basis for justifying conclusions. This rejection of supernaturalism remains even if one also rejects Logical Positivism as the epistemic base for one's natural, empirical approach as Ellis (1989,1992) has explicitly done. The simultaneously scientific and humanistic views articulated by Dewey (1938,1960) and other American Pragmatists, as well by several British trained philosophers such as Steven Toulman, offer empirically grounded, humanistically oriented alternatives to Logical Positivism, and RET is highly compatible with them.

RET also hypothesizes that when people are emotionally disturbed they are typically engaging certain types of belief: (1) absolutistic demandingness, (2) person rating, (3) over-rating or catastrophizing, and (4) low frustration tolerance; and it enumerates three tests to distinguish this typically disturbance-causing or "nonsensical" thinking from typically nondisturbance-causing or "sensible" thinking: (1) logical consistency, (2) consistency with empirical fact and (3) consistency with long-term personal enjoyment (Ellis, 1987).

How nonsupernaturally oriented RET is adapted to people who are both adhering to a supernatural belief system and experiencing psychological dysfunction in relation to it depends on how those people think about the supernatural. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Using RET to Reduce Psychological Dysfunction Associated with Supernatural Belief Systems
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.