In this post, I introduce the major ideas of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), and its founder Albert Ellis. I also critique REBT from an existentialist perspective. REBT has some commonality with existentialist thought, such as the idea that we are responsible for our emotions and how we think about what happens to us is largely determined by our underlying philosophy of life.
The idea that mental anguish is an illness is dehumanizing and destroys the concept of what it means to be a person. The concept of “mental illness” creates a less-than-human creature who’s distressing feelings and behaviors are illegitimate. For the existentialist, loneliness, boredom, despair, and meaninglessness, are central to life. They are problems to be overcome, not diseases to be cured.