In my ongoing book research, I had to take to the obvious hits first on my list. Albert Ellis was right there, so it should be because REBT satisfies some of my beliefs about approaches to psychotherapy from an Islamic perspective. But here’s the catch, Albert Ellis was a strong atheist, his views on religion were bordering on obnoxious and as much as he would’ve phrased it differently, he does seem to have been extremely narcissistic in his opinions. I call him a conundrum because he said he was inspired by Paul Tillich, a religious existentialist and yet Ellis was biased against religion and then his wiki entry says that he was a ‘lifelong supporter of peace and opponent of militarism’ and yet he was member of Israel America Foundation which sends all its funds to support its various interests in Israel and is strongly religious itself. What do you make of this?’
And yet, later in life, Ellis worked on a book that integrated religious consideration in applying REBT with spiritual clients. I have yet to read that book and wonder if the puzzle deepens. As Ellis was famously/infamously known to claim in his blustery way, ‘All humans are f*ing crazy’ and according to me, not him- this applied more to him as an evidence of that statement rather than anyone/anything else. I wonder, if he ever realized that he was spiraling down in his own semantic worm hole or if he had REBT intervention techniques honed to such a degree that outside of it, any questionable behavior was immune to scrutiny?
I still haven’t put REBT under the microscope for minute dissection but I do look forward to the prospect. I can imagine him in his usual dismissal- with a wave of his hand, ‘you don’t like it, you don’t like it. who gives a S*?’ This attitude seemed to have worked for him for 93 years.
If people like Albert Ellis can pull it off, what is stopping us as Muslim intellectuals who are far more intuitive, considerate, yaqeen-centred and Akhirah-oriented to promote what is ‘Haqq’? And I don’t speak from the camouflage of disguised narcissism because that wouldn’t make me any different from A.E but really from the call of the fitrah, the shahadah of the Oneness of God and Messengership of His prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The soul calls.