Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fortunate Son

I was conceived in February, 1955, just one month after Albert Ellis began practicing REBT.


From the beginning of time, until that summer night in sunny Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, I did not exist. Sometime in the future, I will once again cease to exist, and I will return to my natural state: nonexistence.


Some might argue, with reasonable justification, that the world was a better place up until the moment of my conception. But for me, it was the beginning of a grand adventure, a brief interruption to, and vacation from, nonexistence.


Yes, I regard my entire life as a vacation. It's an opportunity to have fun, to see the sights, and to meet the people. It's also an opportunity to learn about the universe I temporarily inhabit. During my stay here, I have made it my business to learn skills that make my visit more enjoyable, and occasionally do what I can to make the visit of other vacationers a rewarding experience for them.


Thinking of my life as a vacation, rather than as an examination to see whether or not I am "good enough," has allowed me to concentrate on what I am doing, rather than fretting over how well I am doing it.


In a few decades, possibly sooner, I will die. And, as Richard Dawkins points out in Unweaving the Rainbow, that makes me one of the lucky ones.


As I reflect on that balmy night in the 1950s, while Bill Haley was rocking around the clock, and my parents were humping and grinding, I can't help but think how it all could have been different. I might never have been here.


As my father enjoyed a post-coital cigarette, millions of his sperm were racing towards my mother's ovum. Had another sperm won the race, I would not be here. At the moment I was conceived, millions of my potential brothers and sisters lost their opportunity for a vacation. I was the lucky one.


And so one day I will die, making me far better off than my brothers and sisters who never lived. I am the fortunate son.



Thursday, April 10, 2008

How to rationally respond to betrayal?

I am making this posting to learn the rational ways to respond to betrayal. I define betrayal as intentional actions attempted to harm someone (say "X") by those persons whom X helped a lot in the past.
Paul Hauck has written in "Overcoming the Rating Game" (page 67 to 94) that "If people do something bad to you intentionally, then do something equally annoying or discomforting to them". He says that we get the behavior we accept.
Carl Sagan refers to Robert Axelrod's related work involving continuing round-robin computer tournament (Chaper: "The rules of the game" in his book "Billions and Billions"). He concludes that the most effective strategy is "Tit-for-Tat". Tit-for-Tat is defined as "you start co-operating, and subsequently you simply do what the other person did last time".
If direct speaking doesn't work and if it is clear (even to outside observer) that the actions are intentional, is it better to use indirect actions to employ the strategy of Tit-for-Tat?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Art and Irrationality

A topic for the blogteam or any interested reader to take up:

REBT, proceeding from logical-empirical bases, offers important guidelines for rational living and personal happiness. But the rational road is not the only path to knowledge. In his writings, Dr Ellis rarely touches on the subject of artistic creativity. Given his friendships with artists of many kinds over the years – from Artie Shaw to Lenny Bruce to Saul Bellow – it seems a surprising omission.

Artistic discoveries can’t be forced by purely systematic means. The artist must periodically shut off the rational-critical part of the mind, and at times even embrace irrationality, as he or she sifts the unconscious for new insights.

While it is possible to over-romanticize the quest for inspiration, the matter is not always resolved, Sinclair Lewis-style, by sitting in a chair and staying there until the novel is finished! In seeking creative shortcuts and illuminations thousands of artists down the ages have destroyed themselves with drink and drugs. They continue to hurl themselves, lemming-like, from the same reckless cliff. This particular phenomenon is not discussed in Ellis’s writing on addictions, nor I believe in other writings on Rational Recovery.

My questions then: how can creative intuition and REBT practical logic best be harnessed? And are there any writings on art and irrationality in the literature of REBT/CBT?