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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stoic Thoughts from a Psychotherapist (from Albert Ellis' "Reason & Emotion in Psychotherapy")

     Some Stoic thoughts from Albert Ellis, Reason & Emotion in Psychotherapy (1962, pp. 68-69), with my thoughts in brackets:

     "Instead of becoming unduly upset over his own or others' wrongdoings, the rational individual [like the Stoic sage?] may take the following approach to errors of commission or omission:
1. He should not criticise or blame others for their misdeeds but should realize that they invariably commit such acts out of stupidity, ignorance, or emotional disturbance. He should try to accept people when they are stupid and to help them when they are ignorant or disturbed. [Sounds like Socrates' belief, carried on by the Stoics, that one can only do wrong out of ignorance, or mistaken impressions about what is good!]
2. When people blame him, he should first ask himself whether he has done anything wrong; and if he has, try to improve his behavior; and if he hasn't, realize that other people's criticism is often their problem and represents some kind of defensiveness or disturbance on their paart.
3. He should try to understand why people act the way they do - to make an effort to see things from from their frame of reference when he thinks they are wrong. If there is any way of stopping others from doing their misdeeds, he should calmly try to stop them. If there is no way of stopping them (as, alas, often is the case!), he should become philosophically resigned to others' wrongdoings by saying to himself: 'It's too bad that they keep acting that way. All right: so it's too bad. And it isn't, from my standpoint, necessarily catastrophic!'
4. He should try to realize that his own mistaken acts, like those of others, are usually the result of ignorance or emotional disturbance; and he should never blame himself for being ignorant or disturbed or for doing misdeeds."

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