Structuralism and the Plant Kingdom

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Frodsham (Chester), Cheshire, United Kingdom
Interests: Philosophy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Buddhism, Psychosynthesis, Hypnotherapy and R.E.B.T.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Albert Ellis and R.E.B.T.

Introduction - Alfred Korzybski (General Semantics 1933), held that we are limited, misled and often trapped by the limits of our own nervous systems and our linguistic abstractions.

On a similar track, Albert Ellis gave an insight into the way we devalue our self-esteem,
by holding evaluative beliefs which lead to irrational conclusions, which have their root in perfectionism, in maximization of the consequences of our shortcomings, in over-generalisation and in over-personalisation. The effect is the same at any level, damaged self-hood and withdrawal.

Ellis's Rational Emotive Therapy uses a method to logically identify the sequence of mistakes we make in everyday perception that generate these irrational and harmful beliefs. In his ABC method A is an event, B is our belief and C is the consequential behaviour. We can learn to use this method to identify the worst irrational beliefs, at B, that we hold (and continually put ourslves down with). By recognising a belief as irrational we can work towards abandoning it. Realising that there is no cosmic law that gaurantees our success, we accept defeats without exteems such as self-depreciation.

Example: "Awfulising" in the Ferrums: The core Ferrum symptom, "anxiety as after committing a crime", perhaps, for example, an expression of the frustration arising from breaking the rules, even in a minor way, would be seen as an example of the consequences of the irrational belief that that things absoultely must be the way they should be, or life will be Awful. This attitude leads to low-frustration tolerance, self pity and anger.

But life does not always work out nicely. The solution is to moderate our grasping demands on life by replacing must with a more reasonable prefer. I would prefer not to do such-and-such, but if it comes down to it, I can still manage if I have to.

This kind of mental retraining is not a quick-fix, but, by the same token is Homeopathy? It seems that Homeopathy gives us the positive energy needed to bring awareness towards the core of the problem, and give a fresh start, but without recognising our self-defeating mental habits how long can the "cure" stick beyond the proximal remedy reaction? Do we need to make a conscious determination to change our mental habits?

This is also the way of Buddhas teachings - Dharma. Indeed, Ellis was a friend of the Dalai Lama. We could say that Ellis taught a form of Buddhadharma that demands no commitments or vows - other than that you try to recognise and test your own hidden agenda and harmful beliefs.

Graves originally described several levels, or Memes, which tie in with Jean Gebser's concept of phase transitions, or mutations, in the development of conciousness, from archaic and supersticious structures to excessivley rational structures, and ulimatly towards a spiral-like integral structure which encompasses all the previous structures.
Ref: Jean Gebser

Note: The term "integral" originates from Sri Aurobino's book "The Mother", a manual of integral yoga, and also from his evolutionary philosophy which evolved out of the Samkya tradition. For a discussion on the relative merits of the main Buddhist schools see "Ocean of Nectar", by Ven. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche (proponent of Nagarjunas' Madhymika Prasingika School).

The image below, with kind permission from Formless Mountain illustrates the meme concept.

Memetics, REBT and Homeopathy?

Each of these stages is a meme. Each new stage of biological and spiritual development involves a transition, forcing the abandonment of our identification with our existing view of self, and the irrational beliefs that support that view, and developing and subsequently identifying with, a new view of self based on more carefully considered beliefs.

Typically, after this transition we look down upon our previous self as immature (and in the school playground we cruelly identify other people who are still in that prior stage as immature).

Ken Wilber suggests that trauma during transition can result in fragmented, Jungian, shadow-selves, that remain unresolved as we move on through life, and suggests specific therapies for each level, e.g. Gestalt Therapy for transition blocked at level 2 - Purple to Red.

Jan Scholten's periodic study of remedies suggests that there are remedies fairly specific to each level. These vertical levels correspond to the Periods (i.e. across the rows) in the Homeopathic model. The columns of the Periodic Table correspond to a horizontal developmentmental series of social attainments within each "Memetic" Period.

There is also a parrallel to be drawn between the work of Rajan Sankaran in locating the Central Delusion, and the assesment of Evaluative Beliefs by Albert Ellis. A method combining these approaches deserves further research.

Albert Ellis left this world on July 24, 2007.


  1. Fab! This is so interesting. I am reading The EQ Edge by Steven J Stein and Howard E Book. It is a bout Emotional Intelligence and your success. You can't improve your IQ but you can learn and change your EQ. In the book it expands on ABC to ABCDE where D is to actively Debate, Dispute and Discard the manupulative, self-defeating beliefs that give rise to your Cs and E are the effects of how debating, disputing and discarding have shifted your understanding and beliefs about the activating event and, consequently, your feelings and behaviours.

  2. Great Stuff! Just up my street :)