Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 121–145 | Cite as

A sadly neglected cognitive element in depression

  • Albert Ellis


The models of depression hypothesized by leading cognitive-behavioral theorists—especially those of Beck, Lewinsohn, Rehm, and Seligman—are analyzed and it is shown that they probably explain how people make themselves appropriately sad, regretful, disappointed, and annoyed when they suffer major losses and inconveniences. These models, however, do not explain why many people with similar losses and inconveniences also make themselves inappropriately depressed and self-hating. It is hypothesized that the rational-emotive therapy (RET) model of depression has a crucial cognitive and philosophic element—the inclusion of absolutistic, dogmatic shoulds, oughts, and musts—that differentiates people's appropriate feelings of sadness from their inappropriate feelings of depression, and that therefore appreciably adds to our understanding of the causative factors in depression. This neglected theory of depression is examined and discussed.

Key words

cognitive behavioral therapy cognitive therapy depression psychotherapy rational-emotive therapy 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert Ellis
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Rational-Emotive TherapyNew YorkUSA

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