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In the Ellis canon, "rational self-acceptance"—the primary goal of REBT—rests not on our belief in our own essential worth as human beings, or on the fact that at least our therapist likes us, but on the fact that we're alive. How does a human being achieve rational self-acceptance? By hard, hard work, that's how. REBT isn't for wimps or goof-offs, at least as Ellis describes it. The therapist relentlessly pursues you with questions aimed at rooting out your mistaken assumptions. Do you think you're depressed because your boyfriend left you? Nope. It's because of your underlying, grandiose belief that if you aren't totally loved all the time, you're worthless. And what evidence do you have for believing that you're absolutely worthless unless somebody loves you? None. Clients are given coping statements or mantras and then, says Ellis, "you go over the mantra two thousand times very strongly, until you begin to believe it."

Ellis and his method have been criticized for being superficial, simplistic, overly rationalistic, and dogmatic. Still, there's something bracing and appealing about his vision of tough love that makes you want to laugh out loud. "Practically all individuals have strong innate and learned tendencies to act like babies all their lives," he notes. Well, yes indeed!

7. Murray Bowen

Murray Bowen developed theories and invented terms now used, or at least known, by every family therapist practicing in America. His concepts of differentiation of self, emotional systems, triangles, emotional cutoffs, the family-projection process, sibling positions, and the multigenerational-transmission process have been woven into the fabric of the field. "Bowen was the intellectual beacon for everyone who was first trying to understand the family," says Braulio Montalvo, who, with Salvador Minuchin, helped create structural family therapy in the early 1960s. "Almost every major concept in family therapy can be traced back to him. He taught everybody."

Bowen did more than give intellectual legitimacy to the scruffy, make-do empiricism of family therapy. In large part, he created the field's intellectual scaffolding, giving it the conceptual structure that distinguishes it from all other psychotherapies. What set him apart from other pathbreakers in the field was his determination to forge a new science of behavior—an overreaching natural systems theory that would be a comprehensive set of interlocking principles accounting for the entire range of human behavior and its evolutionary origins.

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