"He was probably the most influential psychotherapist of the century," Robert O'Connell, the executive director of the Albert Ellis Institute, said in an interview today. "He was the first major intellectual thinker who really broke with the Freudian approach."
Ellis was known for developing rational emotive behavior therapy, which stresses that patients can improve their lives by taking control of self-defeating thoughts. The approach contradicted Freud, who maintained that understanding childhood experiences was critical to treating neurosis.
"Neurosis," Ellis once said, is "just a high-class word for whining."
A 1982 survey of clinical psychologists ranked Ellis as the second-most influential in the field -- ahead of Freud and behind Carl Rogers, founder of humanistic psychology. Today, Ellis's method has been popularized by television personalities such as Phillip McGraw, better known as Dr. Phil.
Source: Houston Chronicle
Albert Ellis was also an earlier pioneer in research on sex and sexuality. Once highly taboo topics, it is only relatively recently that sexual behavior, sexual desires, and sexual orientation have been subjected to scientific research. It will be a while before religious outrage over this subsides. Albert Eillis wrote in Sex Without Guilt that traditional religious taboos concerned sexual expression are ultimately harmful to psychological and emotional health.
As with other fields, the scientific study of sexuality has resulted in a general rejection of traditional religious beliefs about the nature and use of sex — that's a major reason why there exists so much religious outrage over such studies. The more facts people become aware of, the harder it is for religious authorities to convince them that traditional beliefs and restrictions are valid. Traditional religion thrives best when ignorance can be maintained.
In addition to taking private patients, Ellis, beginning with "The Folklore of Sex" (1951), published book after book — more than 70 by some counts — of practical advice on relationships, overcoming problems, sex, and myriad therapeutic topics, all pitched in the kind of no-nonsense language that would make Dr. Phil proud. Coming as they did in advance of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the books caused significant controversy and for many years were published by the notorious purveyor of all things blue, Lyle Stuart.
Some of the works today appear quaint, dated, or simply wrong-headed, such as "Homosexuality: Its Causes and Cures" (1965). But more of them seem like the first great blast of a sensible sex and life advice industry that Ellis was instrumental in founding. Despite his 1965 book title, he was an early supporter of gay rights, and where Kinsey wrote of sex, Ellis wrote also of love.
Source: New York Sun
Albert Eillis described himself as a "probabilistic atheist," which means that while he didn't absolutely exclude the possibility of some sort of god existing he regarded the probability as so low that it wasn't worth his attention — or anyone else's, for that matter. Because of his efforts to open the human mind to rational, scientific scrutiny and his defense of atheistic humanism, Ellis was named Humanist of the Year in 1971 by the American Humanist Association.