A Woman Fearful of Experiencing Emotions
NARRATOR In this film Dr. Albert Ellis, the founder rational and emotive psychotherapy illustrates his
method that irrational beliefs are the source of emotional disturbance. In Ellis's system, the effective
therapist unmasks his patient's illogical thinking or self-defeating verbalizations by bringing them
forcefully to his attention, showing him how they are causing and maintaining his disturbance and
unhappiness, demonstrating exactly what the illogical links in his internalized sentences are and
teaching him how to rethink, challenge contradict and re-verbalize these and other similar sentences so
that his internalized thoughts become more logical and efficient. The rational emotive
psychotherapist not only deals concretely with his patient's specific illogical thinking but demonstrates
what, in general, are the main irrational ideas that human beings are prone to follow and what are the
more rational philosophies of living that may be substituted instead. Following the demonstration of his
method, Dr. Ellis discusses the counseling session with Dr. Thomas W. Allen of Washington University.
01:30DR. ALBERT ELLIS I've been talking to Joan for a minute or two. Joan is 32 years of age and a widow
and a mother. And I'm now, going to continue my conversation with her. Joan, what would you say most
bothers you, today?
01:50JOAN My inability to express myself.
01:55DR. ALBERT ELLIS Your inability to express yourself. Now, can you give me a brief recent illustration
02:00JOAN Well, recently I was with a friend, uh, who accused me of, uh, saying something that I didn't
say and I would not defend myself. I just apologized.
02:15DR. ALBERT ELLIS And how did you feel after you apologized. This was a girlfriend of yours?
02:30DR. ALBERT ELLIS And how did you feel after you apologized instead of expressing yourself more
fully to her?
JOAN I was angry with myself.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS You put yourself down.
02:35JOAN That's right.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS You see now, I'm going to try to show you briefly that you have two problems. First,
your original problem where you fail to express yourself well and then secondly you condemned
yourself for having that problem. Now, let's start with the second one, first. That -- that you did put
yourself down, because that's going to make things worse instead of better. Let's assume first of all that
you're right and that instead of expressing yourself adequately with your girlfriend, what I call A, the
activating venue, you did poorly. We'll just assume that, you didn't express yourself. You've done this
many times before and then at C, the consequence the emotional consequence, you felt you said, angry
with yourself, right?
03:15DR. ALBERT ELLIS Now, I contend that A didn't cause C, that no matter how poorly you do it
doesn't cause you to put yourself down, to feel depressed. Is that how you felt, angry and depressed at
03:35DR. ALBERT ELLIS I say that's not so. A doesn't cause C, but B does. B is your belief system, what
you tell yourself or believe about what happens at A. And again, we're assuming at A you really did
poorly. You really didn't open up with her. Now, B, first of all you said something I would guess like I
wish I had expressed myself, better. Isn't it too bad that I didn’t open my big mouth more. I've often
done that and that's a really bother. Is that right? But if you had stuck only with that B, it's a rational
belief, it's a bother. I wish I expressed myself better, how unfortunate that I didn't you would merely
feel sorry and frustrated, annoyed.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS But not angry. So you have to go beyond that to feel angry. Now, can you guess what
you might have said in addition to isn't it too bad?
04:25JOAN Well, one day there will be justification, after that.
04:35DR. ALBERT ELLIS What justification?
04:40JOAN Well, when I say to myself, um, B, I do believe -04:45DR. ALBERT ELLIS Yeah.
JOAN -- these things, um, about me.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS What do you believe about you?
04:50JOAN I believe I wasn't what I was accused of being.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. I wasn't what I was accused of being. And I didn't open up about it and that is
what? What do you say about yourself? Because I didn't open up, what?
04:55JOAN Uh, I don't know what to say. I -- I really don’t.
05:05DR. ALBERT ELLIS Well, is something rotten about me?
05:10JOAN No. I don't -- I don't really feel that there's something about me.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Well, what is your self-anger? We're only talking about your anger at yourself if you're
not putting you down. You're blaming yourself.
05:15JOAN The anger stemmed from the fact that I've done this before.
05:20DR. ALBERT ELLIS Not spoken up.
05:25JOAN Not spoken up, right. And that there once or years of friendship that go down the drain.
05:30DR. ALBERT ELLIS Yup.
JOAN And, um, I want to improve that. I don't want to --
05:35DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. But you wouldn't be angry if you had only said I want to improve You're
saying I've got to improve.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS And it's awful if I don't. If I go on like this.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Now, aren't your saying something like that? And that awful really means a self-put
down. Self-hatred is a self-put down. And you're saying if I don't get over this awful business then I really
will be pretty rotten.
05:55JOAN That's right.
06:00DR. ALBERT ELLIS But why? Let's just suppose the worst, now. For the rest of your life you didn't
speak up. And actually, I'll show you in a minute how to speak up. But let's just supposed the worst. You
didn't speak up. Why would that be awful? Why would you be a rotten person if you didn't speak up?
06:20JOAN Well, I know that when I don't speak up that I tend to think I -- I'll stay where I'm more
06:30DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right.
06:35JOAN And, um, I won't reach out to people, anymore, I'll go within myself and I don't want to go
within myself. I've been there before.
06:40DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right.
06:45JOAN So I want -- I want to, uh, express myself. And, so I'm trying to -- in events that happen, when
I try to do this and I feel again, I've become angry with myself.
06:50DR. ALBERT ELLIS But it's still, again because you're saying because I want to and I must do what I
want to. Not I'd like to do because you wouldn’t become angry at yourself. You'd just say, that's too bad.
I'm not doing what I like. But I think you have a must in there. I've got to do what I want to and I've got
to do it, right now. After doing so badly.
07:20JOAN All right.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS For all these years. Now, I'm saying, why do you have to? Not why would it be
desirable which it would be. But why do you have to?
07:30JOAN I don't know. Because I feel before I suppose, I don't know.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS But that doesn't follow, because I failed before and that was bad. I have to do right
now, does not follow. You see and if you would get rid of that have to and really go back to I want to do
very well. I want to do better next time and I'm going to really focus on doing better the next time. You
would be able in all probability to be better next time. But you focus so much on you and how awful it is,
you've got to change that you don't change.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS You spend all your time and energy doing that, you see.
08:00JOAN Right. Okay. Exactly.
08:05DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. So if you could first accept yourself, Joan, with your poor behavior.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Then, you could go about changing the behavior. But then you have to stop putting
yourself down what you're doing and go back to. I don't like my acts, but I still accept me, Joan.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS You see. Now, let's supposed you did that. And let's just suppose that. Then you'd still
have a problem and that is how to speak up.
08:30DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. Now, let's just go back to that. And we'll call A the fact that your girlfriend
accuses you falsely.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS And C the consequence, you were silent, or you don't speak up enough. You don't
express yourself. Now, again the fact that she accuses you falsely is not making you silent. You are.
You're telling yourself something at B. And first you're saying something along the line of it's bad, it's
unfortunately that she's falsely accusing me. I don't like that. But that would just frustrate you
or wouldn't stop you from speaking up. And you're saying something much stronger at B. If I speak up
and really hold my ground with her, what? What do you think you're saying?
09:10JOAN My biggest fear is losing her as a friend.
09:15DR. ALBERT ELLIS That's right. But I might lose her as a friend and not only would that be
unfortunate and bad but that would be awful. I couldn't stand it.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Isn't that what you're saying?
JOAN Right. Maybe not with that much demonstration.
09:30DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. Not as dramatic as I'm saying, but something like that. But now, why
would it really be terrible if you lost her as a friend?
09:35JOAN Well -DR. ALBERT ELLIS Let's just say you spoke up and lost her as a friend?
09:40JOAN It -- it probably wouldn't be because she probably wouldn't be that much of a friend if I had
lost her that quickly.
09:50DR. ALBERT ELLIS That's right. You see. And it's never terrible to lose a friend. It's always
unfortunate. It's always too bad. But terrible or awful means more that inconvenient, more that too
bad. You see and that doesn't really exist in the world. It's just unfortunate. It's just inconvenient. And
you could get other friends.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS If you did lose her. But you were saying, oh, no. If I lost her I'd lose everybody. Now,
JOAN No. I don't suppose I would. But I guess it's the -- that I put so much investment in certain people.
10:15DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right.
JOAN And once I've invested it, I don't want to lose it.
10:25DR. ALBERT ELLIS But you see you're using want and you really mean, I can't -- I must not lose her.
It's the must which gets you frantic.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS You see. Instead of having a desire for her approval which is very sane and good, you
have a dire need, an absolute necessity for her approval and that won't work.
10:45DR. ALBERT ELLIS Because then when you have to please somebody you do everything except
stand up and jump.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Isn't that so?
JOAN That's true. That's very true.
10:55DR. ALBERT ELLIS So the question is how could you change that dire need for her approval into a
wanting? I would like it but if I don't get it, what?
11:05JOAN I'll seek friendship other places.
11:10DR. ALBERT ELLIS That's fine. If I don't get it, tough. I would have to seek friendship other places.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS And if I don't get it, it's not good. It's bad. It's undesirable. It won't kill me.
11:20DR. ALBERT ELLIS And again it won't make me a rotten individual because I don't get her love. I
don't need her approval. I would like, very much to have it and that's much different from needing it,
you see. If every single time you didn't speak up when you thought you were in the right, you realized
that you were telling yourself that G, I must have their approval, it would be awful if I didn't have it. It's
terrible not to have it and then you said, to yourself at D, di is disputing your irrational, why must I -what would the answer be? Why must I have her approval?
12:05DR. ALBERT ELLIS Supposed you ask yourself. Yes, I would like her approval, but why must I have
it? What would you answer, finally?
12:10JOAN I really don't know what to answer.
12:20DR. ALBERT ELLIS The answer is, I don't have to.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS It would only be desirable. Or supposed you asked, why would it be horrible not for
me to have her approval?
12:35JOAN It really wouldn’t.
12:40DR. ALBERT ELLIS That's right. You see, it's only horrible if I define it as horrible. If I think it is. Then
it becomes -JOAN Right.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS -- horrible. But I really don't need it. You see. And you could also ask, because that's
usually in there. Now, why would I be a louse if she didn't care for me?
DR. ALBERT ELLIS What would be the answer to that question?
JOAN If she thinks I'm a louse, let her think it.
12:55DR. ALBERT ELLIS That's right. It doesn't make me a louse if she thinks it. She probably has a
problem if after all these years of friendship she thinks I'm a louse because I stood up for myself.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS And who needs a friend like that? You see.
13:10JOAN Right. That's true. But the -13:15DR. ALBERT ELLIS Yeah.
JOAN When you communicate with people and you are friends. And -- and something's brought up in
conversation which gives you -- which you valued their opinion before.
13:20DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right.
13:25JOAN And you think, do they really think me that?
13:30DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right.
JOAN Then it causes me, I don't know about other people. But it causes me to search within myself like
13:35DR. ALBERT ELLIS I think it's wise to search within yourself about your behavior. Did I do the wrong
thing? Did I, for example, express myself or too nastily to her. I think you're very wise in asking did you
do wrong. But suppose you even conclude, you know, I was too expressive this time. I stood up and I did
it nastily and that was wrong.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS What could then conclude?
14:00JOAN Well, if I came to that conclusion I would certainly apologize. But I don't get that feeling
under those conditions.
14:05DR. ALBERT ELLIS Under which conditions?
14:10JOAN Under the conditions of when I realized I was wrong.
14:15DR. ALBERT ELLIS Because you're not really even standing up for yourself.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Oh you mean you do?
JOAN When -- when I come to the conclusion that I -- I was wrong, I can apologize and I don't have these
14:20DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. But you're talking -14:25JOAN It's only when -- when I apologize for something that I didn't do -14:30DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. That you're saying, I was right and I still apologized.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS That was weak of me. Now, again, that weakness was merely an error.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS So it was a weakness and the moral is next time I'm going to stand up for myself when
I think I'm right if it's the last thing I do.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS But I'm not going to put myself down this time.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Because if I put myself down this time, what will happen?
JOAN I'll not stand up for myself next time.
14:55DR. ALBERT ELLIS That's right. I'll absorb myself in my depression, in my anger at myself.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS And I won't look at the problem which is back at A, the activating even, how will I
change this even? What can I do next time? That's always the real issue.
15:05JOAN All right. I suppose that if you're telling yourself this, next time comes and the same thing
15:15DR. ALBERT ELLIS Well, let's suppose it does. Ten times in a row.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS You keep telling yourself, I better speak up and then you don't.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS What does that prove?
JOAN I'm not making much progress.
15:30DR. ALBERT ELLIS That's right. but that could be the same as could bridge -15:35JOAN I want to be better next time.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. I'll keep trying. It doesn't prove I'll never make any progress, does it?
JOAN That's right.
15:40DR. ALBERT ELLIS But isn't that what you would have to conclude?
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Oh, hell. I did it again. I'll never be able to speak up for myself. Is that probable?
15:45JOAN No, because I suppose that eventually when you try anything you're going to win.
15:55DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. If you persist and if you don't spend your time and energies doubting
yourself. That's why it's so predacious as I said before if we first got you to stop beating yourself, beating
Joan over the head for doing this, then we could get back to the original thing which is how do I not do
DR. ALBERT ELLIS You see, in the office, I'm sure you act a little differently. Because in the office, you
must make errors.
16:25JOAN Oh. I do.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS And what do you tell yourself after you've made the error?
16:30JOAN I usually do it over.
16:35DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. And sometimes if it had to go out and it was an error that just couldn’t be
corrected. What would you tell yourself, then?
16:40JOAN I wouldn't worry about it.
16:45DR. ALBERT ELLIS You'd say, isn't that too bad. I made an error. Next time I'll be a little more
careful. Now, why couldn't you say the same thing about expressing yourself? I made an error that
time. I've made it many times before but why can't I practice expressing myself?
17:00JOAN Well, I will -- I do try. I think I do try to express myself. Each time maybe I get a little better.
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Right. And maybe it will take a little while. Now, what advise you also to do in your
head for several minutes a day, picture yourself expressing yourself. You got that picture?
DR. ALBERT ELLIS You're expressing yourself. And you're doing it badly. All right. You're not really doing
it well. Now, picture yourself accepting that fact, that's too bad, I'll practice more.
17:15JOAN I can picture that too. Now, if you could do that for five minutes a day for the next ten or 21
days then when the situation starts arising, you'll see that when you do express yourself you'll say, fine
and when you don't you'll say exactly as in this picture. That's too bad. I'll go and express myself better.
Next time I'll try. Now, another thing I do. I give myself a penalty when I did not speak up. Now, what do
you really like to do? Name something you really like to do?
17:55JOAN I like music.
18:00DR. ALBERT ELLIS You like to listen to it almost every day.
18:05JOAN That's right.
18:10DR. ALBERT ELLIS Fine. Well, I wouldn’t allow myself to listen to music if I had not previously the
last few days before spoken up when I really wanted to speak up. And that would encourage me to
speak up. Do you see what I mean?
DR. ALBERT ELLIS Now, if you use the imagining method and this method of giving yourself a penalty
when you don't do what you'd like to do. and if you review what I said, before that it's not awful and it's
not terrible and it's not horrible and you're not a rotten person when you don't do the right thing, you
don't speak up and you wouldn't be horrible if you didn't speak up and she didn't like you, then I think
you'd get along very well in the world to be able to speak up much more. Now, is there anything you
don't understand about what I just said?
18:55JOAN No, I understand you completely.
19:00DR. ALBERT ELLIS Fine, they you go work on that.
19:05JOAN Thank you.
DR. THOMAS W. ALLEN The therapy that was going on with Joan, seems capable as being characterized
as a desensitizing process, does that match with your own thinking or -19:15DR. ALBERT ELLIS To some degree I think that all therapy is desensitizing the individual awfulizes or
catastrophizes and we go over it in either her head -- imaginatively and cognitively or in actual
homework that I gave her sort of. That she's not actually doing it, yet. So it is a desensitizing process of
the individual gives up the idea that giving up something such as a rejection or as not speaking of an
19:40DR. THOMAS W. ALLEN The distinction between needs and wants seems to be a really crucial one
that what you seem to be saying is that many of the things that many people characterize as needs are
19:55DR. ALBERT ELLIS Yes. A need is a short word for necessity that ...
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