W Dryden – REBT emotional problems

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The eight emotional problems are underpinned by irrational beliefs

RECBT theory argues that each of the eight emotional problems stems from two irrational beliefs: a rigid belief and three extreme beliefs that are derived from the rigid belief. Thus, an irrational belief is characterised by being rigid or being extreme. It has three other characteristics:

it is false
it is illogical

it has largely unconstructive consequences (e.g. in the face of an adversity it leads to an emotional problem).

Let me consider rigid and extreme beliefs separately.

Rigid beliefs

Perhaps the most basic characteristic of human beings is that we have desires. We want certain things to happen and other things not to happen, but when we turn these desires into rigidities when we don’t get what we want, or get what we don’t want, then we experience one or more of the emotional problems described in this book. Here are a few examples of rigid beliefs:

I must do well on the forthcoming test.
You must respect my boundaries.
The world must not give me too much hassle.

As these examples show you can hold rigid beliefs about yourself, others and life conditions.

Three extreme beliefs

According to RECBT theory, rigid beliefs are paramount in explaining the existence of the emotional problems and three extreme beliefs tend to be derived from these rigid beliefs. These are

awfulising beliefs
discomfort intolerance beliefs depreciation beliefs.

Emotional problems 5

6 Dealing with emotional problems: a client’s guide

Awfulising beliefs

An awfulising belief stems from the rigid belief that things must not be as bad as they are. An awfulising belief is extreme in the sense that you believe at the time one or more of the following:

Nothing could be worse.
The event in question is worse than 100 per cent bad. No good could possibly come from this bad event.

In the following examples of awfulising beliefs, the rigid beliefs are listed in parentheses:

(I must do well on the forthcoming test) . . . and it would be awful if I don’t.
(You must respect my boundaries) . . . and it’s the end of the world when you don’t. (The world must not give me too much hassle) . . . and it’s terrible when it does.

Discomfort intolerance beliefs

A discomfort intolerance belief stems from a rigid belief that things must not be as frustrating or uncomfortable as they are. A discomfort intoler- ance belief is extreme in the sense that you believe at the time one or more of the following:

I will die or disintegrate if the frustration or discomfort continues to exist.

I will lose the capacity to experience happiness if the frustration or discomfort continues to exist.

In the following examples of discomfort intolerance beliefs, the rigid beliefs are listed in parentheses:

(I must do well on the forthcoming test) . . . and I could not bear it if I don’t. (You must respect my boundaries) . . . and it’s intolerable if you don’t.
(The world must not give me too much hassle) . . . and I can’t stand it if it does.

Depreciation beliefs

A depreciation belief stems from the rigid belief that you, others or things must be as you want them to be and is extreme in the sense that you believe at the time one or more of the following:

A person (self or other) can legitimately be given a single global rating that de®nes their essence and the worth of a person is dependent upon conditions that change (e.g. my worth goes up when I do well and goes down when I don’t do well).

The world can legitimately be given a single rating that de®nes its essential nature and that the value of the world varies according to what happens within it (e.g. the value of the world goes up when something fair occurs and goes down when something unfair happens).

A person can be rated on the basis of one of his or her aspects and the world can be rated on the basis of one of its aspects.

In the following examples of depreciation beliefs, the rigid beliefs are listed in parentheses:

(I must do well on the forthcoming test) . . . and I am a failure if I don’t. (You must respect my boundaries) . . . and you are bad if you don’t.

(The world must not give me too much hassle) . . . and if it does, the world is a rotten place.

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