The nature of irrational and rational beliefs: Progress in rational emotive behavior theory

  • Raymond DiGiuseppe
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: Critiques from Within


This paper discusses some limitations of Ellis's Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. It is suggested that the present definition of irrational and rational beliefs is inadequate. The present theory is unclear whether irrational beliefs are exaggerated negative evaluations or empirical distortions of reality. It is proposed that irrational beliefs are core schemes, and that the concept of schema replace the present definition of beliefs. Ellis's position that demandingness is at the center of irrational thinking and emotional disturbance is examined. Research has failed to support this theory. It is proposed that demandingness and self-downing may be separate types of core irrational schemes. Research strategies are suggested that could test Ellis's position on the centrality of demandingness and on the nature of irrational beliefs in general.

It is also suggested that irrational beliefs differ on their level of abstraction. The present REBT theory fails to identify which level of abstraction is necessary to cause disturbance, at which level of abstraction therapists should seek change, and whether a therapist should intervene first at higher or lower levels of abstract beliefs. It is suggested that a therapist only seek change to the level of abstraction that matches the client's concerns and that therapists begin to intervene at lower levels of abstraction and move up to more abstract cognitions as therapy progresses.


Behavior Therapy Negative Evaluation Research Strategy Present Theory Abstract Cognition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond DiGiuseppe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySt. John's UniversityJamaica

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