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Below are articles that both describe and explain the methods of Dr. Mike Abrams and Dr. Lidia Abrams and offer relevant information for anyone seeking psychological help.

Some publications are from the collaboration of Dr. Abrams with Dr. Albert Ellis who is generally considered to be the founder of all modern therapies and the first full time sex therapist in America.

Both Dr. Mike Abrams and Dr. Lidia Abrams studied and collaborated with Dr. Ellis for 17 years. Dr. Ellis developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy which was the first of the cognitive or cognitive behavioral therapies. The linchpin of this approach is avoidance of moral judgments and the striving to understand all problems from the client point of view. CBT has been researched to be effective irrespective of the history of the person seeking help. REBT and CBT rejects the unsupported conjecture of unconscious transference and therefore, accepts all client actions, emotions and communications as real and legitimate.

Its humanistic perspective holds that each individual has developed his or her own unique construction of the world that must be understood and appreciated before any psycho therapeutic intervention can be developed. Importantly, when a person is anxious, despondent or behaving a non-optimal way it is because the person construction of the world is not allowing the individual function optimally. Thus, REBT and CBT will help you find those aspects of your world-view, your personal philosophy, or your beliefs that have become the source of your distress, fear or despair. Working together with you he will help change those constructions that are keeping you from reaching your personal best.

Dr. Mike Abrams is one of only 13 psychologists in New Jersey with the National Board Certification in cognitive behavioral therapy (ABPP/ABBCP). And he and Dr. Lidia Abrams are among 4 psychologists in NJ board who are board certified by the Albert Ellis Institute in Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. In addition Dr. Mike Abrams serves as an examiner for psychologists seeking board certification in psychology. Dr. Lidia Abrams serves as chair of the NJPA Ethics committee.

Dr Mike and Dr Lidia have practiced in Jersey City since 1988 and in Clifton, NJ since 1990.

Dr. Mike Abrams and Dr. Lidia Abrams approach problems in life by continually listening for client beliefs that lead to emotional distress. This humanistic technique applies to social, interpersonal, family and sexual problems. It is derived from the discoveries that led what is now known as cognitive behavior therapy. Specifically, it is not the past or a person's history that leads to his or her painful emotions but his or her beliefs about the past. Dr. Mike Abrams and Dr. Lidia Abrams are among the few psychologists in new jersey Board Certified in these methods. To help illustrate the type of thinking we help people to change we have set forth some of the core beliefs that cause emotional disturbance.

The Core Irrational Beliefs of REBT - These are the aspects of a person's philosophy that underlie his/her distress.

12 Self-defeating Beliefs
  1. I need love and approval from those significant to me - and I must avoid disapproval from any source.
  2. To be worthwhile as a person I must achieve, succeed at what ever I do and make no mistakes.
  3. People should always do the right thing. When they behave obnoxiously, unfairly or selfishly, they must be blamed and punished.
  4. Things must be the way I want them to be - otherwise life will be intolerable.
  5. My unhappiness is caused by things outside my control - so there is little I can do to feel any better.
  6. I must worry about things that could be dangerous, unpleasant or frightening - otherwise they might happen.
  7. I can be happier by avoiding life difficulties, unpleasantness and responsibilities.
  8. Everyone needs to depend on someone stronger than themselves.
  9. Events in my past are the cause of my problems - and they continue to influence my feelings and behaviors now.
  10. I should become upset when other people have problems and feel unhappy when they sad.
  11. I should not have to feel discomfort and pain - I can't stand them and must avoid them at all costs.
  12. Every problem should have an ideal solution and it is intolerable when one can't be found.
12 Rational Beliefs
  1. Love and approval are good things to have and I'll seek them when I can. But they are not necessities - I can survive (even though uncomfortably) without them.
  2. I'll always seek to achieve as much as I can - but unfailing success and competence is unrealistic. Better I just accept myself as a person and separate to my performance.
  3. It's unfortunate that people sometimes do bad things. But humans are not yet perfect - and upsetting myself won't change that reality.
  4. There is no law which says that things have to be the way I want. It's disappointing but I can stand it - especially if I avoid catastrophising.
  5. Many external factors are outside my control. But it is my thoughts (not the externals) which cause my feelings. And I can learn to control my thoughts.
  6. Worrying about things that might go wrong won't stop them happening. It will, though, ensure I get upset and disturbed right now!
  7. Avoiding problems is only easier in the short term - putting things off can make them worse later on. It also gives me more time to worry about them!
  8. Relying on someone else can lead to dependent behavior. It is OK to seek help - as long as I learn to trust myself and my own judgment.
  9. The past can't influence me now. My current beliefs cause my reactions. I may have learned these beliefs in the past but can choose to analyze and change them in the present.
  10. I can't change other people problems and bad feelings by getting myself upset.
  11. Why should I in particular not feel discomfort and pain? I don't like them, but I can stand it. Also, my life would be very restricted if I always avoided discomfort.
  12. Problems usually have many possible solutions. It is better to stop waiting for the perfect one and get on with the best available. I can live with less than the ideal.

The Philosophy of Rational Emotive Behavior therapy and Cognitive behavior therapy. Dr. Mike Abrams and Dr. Lidia assiduously apply this philosophy with all of their clients.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT / CBT) is a comprehensive approach to psychological treatment that deals not only with the emotional and behavioral aspects of human disturbance, it places a great deal of stress on the thinking component of distress. Human beings are exceptionally complex and they doesn't seem to be any simple way in which people become "emotionally disturbed" nor is there a single way in which they can be helped to be less-defeating. Our psychological problems arise from misperceptions and mistaken cognitions about what we perceive from our emotional under reactions or overreactions to normal and unusual stimuli and from our habitually dysfunctional behavior patterns which enable us to keep repeating non adjustive responses even when we “know” that we are behaving poorly or even foolishly.


REBT is based on the assumption that what we label our “emotional” reactions are largely caused by our conscious and unconscious evaluations, interpretations and philosophies. Thus, we feel anxious or depressed because we strongly convince ourselves that it is terrible when we fail at something or that we can’t stand the pain of being rejected. We feel hostile because we vigorously believe that people who behave unfairly to us absolutely should not act the way they indubitably do and that it is utterly insufferable when they frustrate us.

Like stoicism, a school of philosophy that existed some two thousand years ago, rational emotive behavior therapy holds that there are virtually no good reasons why human beings have to make themselves very neurotic no matter what kind of negative stimuli impinge on them. It gives them full leeway to feel strong negative emotions such as sorrow, regret, displeasure, annoyance, rebellion and determination to change social conditions. However, it believes that when they experience certain self-defeating and unhealthy emotions (such as panic, depression, worthlessness or rage), they are usually adding an unrealistic and illogical hypothesis to their empirically-based view that their own acts or those of others are reprehensible or inefficient and that something would better be done about changing them.

Rational emotive behavior therapists — often within the first session or two of seeing a client can almost always put their finger on a few central irrational philosophies of life which this client vehemently believes. They can show clients how these ideas inevitably lead to emotional problems. Hence, to presenting clinical symptoms can demonstrate exactly how they forthrightly question and challenge these ideas that can often induce them to work to uproot them and replace with scientifically testable hypotheses about themselves and the world which are not likely to get them into future neurotic difficulties.


Rational Emotive / Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Demonstrates that a Person's Beliefs is the Fundamental Cause of Distress

They are:

  1. The idea that it is a dire necessity for adults to be loved by significant others for almost everything they do — instead of their concentrating on their own self-respect, on winning approval for practical purposes and on loving rather than on being loved.
  2. The idea that certain acts are awful or wicked and that people who perform such acts should be severely damned — instead of the idea that certain acts are self-defeating or antisocial, and that people who perform such acts are behaving stupidly, ignorantly or neurotically and would be better helped to change. People’s poor behaviors do not make them rotten individuals.
  3. The idea that it is horrible when things are not the way we like them to be — instead of the idea that it is too bad that we would better try to change or control bad conditions so that they become more satisfactory and if that is not possible, we had better temporarily accept and gracefully lump their existence.
  4. The idea that human misery is invariably externally caused and is forced on us by outside people and events — instead of the idea that neurosis is largely caused by the view that we take of unfortunate conditions.
  5. The idea that if something is or may be dangerous or fearsome we should be terribly upset and endlessly obsess about it — instead of the idea that one would better frankly face it and render it non-dangerous and when that is not possible, accept the inevitable.
  6. The idea that it is easier to avoid than to face life difficulties and self-responsibilities — instead of the idea that the so-called easy way is usually much harder in the long run.
  7. The idea that we absolutely need something other or stronger or greater than ourselves on which to rely — instead of the idea that it is better to take the risks of thinking and acting less dependently.
  8. The idea that we should be thoroughly competent, intelligent and achieving in all possible respects — instead of the idea that we would better do rather than always need to do well and accept ourselves as a quite imperfect creature, who has general human limitations and specific fallibilities.
  9. The idea that because something once strongly affected our life, it should indefinitely affect it — instead of the idea that we can learn from our past experiences but not be overly-attached to or prejudiced by them.
  10. The idea that we must have certain and perfect control over things — instead of the idea that the world is full of probability and chance and that we can still enjoy life despite this.
  11. The idea that human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction — instead of the idea that we tend to be happiest when we are vitally absorbed in creative pursuits or when we are devoting ourselves to people or projects outside ourselves.
  12. The idea that we have virtually no control over our emotions and that we cannot help feeling disturbed about things — instead of the idea that we have real control over our destructive emotions if we choose to work at changing the musturbatory hypotheses which we often employ to create them.


  1. The de-emphasis of early childhood is paramount. While CBT/REBT accepts the fact that dysfunctional emotional states are sometimes originally learned or aggravated by early teaching or irrational beliefs taught during development. It proposes that these early-acquired irrationalities are not automatically sustained over the years by themselves. Instead, people must actively and creatively re-instill them. Consequently the CB/REBT usually spends very little time on the clients’ parents or family upbringing but is fully able to them to bring about significant changes in their problems with life. The therapist demonstrates that no matter what the clients’ basic irrational philosophy of life, nor when and how they acquired it, they are presently disturbed because they still believe this self-defeating world- and self-view. If they will observe exactly what they are irrationally thinking in the present will challenge and question these self-statements they will usually improve significantly.
  2. Emphasis on deep philosophical change and scientific thinking. Because of its belief that human neurotic disturbance is largely ideologically or philosophically based. CBT/REBT strives for a thorough-going philosophic reorientation of a people’s outlook on life, rather than for a mere removal of any of their mental or psychosomatic symptoms. It teaches the clients, for example, that human adults do not need to be accepted or loved even though it is highly desirable that they be. REBT encourages individuals to be healthily sad or regretful when they are rejected, frustrated or deprived. But it tries to teach them how to overcome feelings of intense hurt, self-deprecation and depression. As in science, clients are shown how to question the dubious hypotheses that they construct about themselves and others. If they believe (as alas, millions of us do), that they are worthless because they perform certain acts badly. They are not merely taught to ask, “What is really bad about my acts?” and “Where is the evidence that they are wrong or unethical?” More importantly, they are shown how to ask themselves, “Granted that my acts may be mistaken, why am I a totally bad person for performing them? Where is the evidence that I must always be right in order to consider my-self worthy? Assuming that it is preferable for me to act well rather than badly, why do I have to do what is preferable?”

    Similarly, when people perceive (let us suppose, correctly) the erroneous and unjust acts of others and become enraged at these others, they are shown how to stop and ask themselves, “Why is my hypothesis that the people who committed these errors and injustices are no damned good a true hypothesis? Granted that it would be better if they acted more competently or fairly, why should they have to do what would be better?” CBT/
  3. CBT/REBT teaches that to be human is to be fallible and that if we are to get on in life with minimal upset and discomfort, we would better accept this reality — and then unanxiously work hard to become a little less fallible.
  4. Use of psychological homework. CBT/ REBT disagrees with most Freudian, neo-Freudian, Adlerian and Jungian schools that acquiring insight is important. Especially so-called emotional insight into the source of their neurosis is a most important part of people’s corrective teaching. However, it distinguishes sharply between so-called intellectual and emotional insight and operationally defines emotional insight as individuals’ knowing or seeing the cause of their problems and working in a determined and energetic manner to apply this knowledge to the solution of these problems. The rational emotive behavior therapist helps clients to acknowledge that there is usually no other way for him to get better but by their continually observing, questioning and challenging their own belief-systems by their working and practicing to change their own irrational beliefs by verbal and behavioral counter-propagandizing activity. In REBT, actual homework assignments are frequently agreed upon in individual and group therapy. Assignments may include dating a person whom the client is afraid to ask for a date; looking for a new job; experimentally returning to live with a husband with whom one has previously continually quarrelled etc. The therapist quite actively tries to encourage clients to undertake such assignments as an integral part of the therapeutic process.

    The REBT/CBT practitioner is able to give clients unconditional rather than conditional positive regard because the REBT philosophy holds that no humans are to be damned for anything, no matter how execrable their acts may be. Because of the therapist’s unconditional acceptance of them as a human, and actively teaching clients how to fully accept themselves, clients are able to express their feelings more openly and to stop rating themselves even when they acknowledge the inefficiency or immorality of some of their acts.

    In many highly important ways the rational emotive behavior therapy utilizes expressive-experimental methods and behavioral techniques. However, its not primarily interested in helping people ventilate emotion and feel better but in showing them how they can truly get better to lead to happier, non-self-defeating and self-actualized lives.

Approaches to Couples Counseling

One of the most common mistakes of therapists treating couple in crisis is a function of the often exaggerated self-important self-image of many practitioners. Specifically, some therapists presume that a couple that has had failing communications, deception, romantic or sexual infidelity (to name a few of problems that bring people to couple's counseling) will suddenly sit side by side in front of the all-powerful therapist and the facades, lies, deceptions, miscommunications etc. all will come to abrupt halt. Why on earth should people suddenly come clean and bare their soul in front of some stranger. Aucontraire (pardon my French) but they will more often redouble their efforts out of shame, fear or simple recalcitrance. Imagine how you would feel after you have been withholding from or even deceiving the person closet to you when you are suddenly confronted by a complete stranger to reveal all. Tell the truth.... you would tell him to f__k off in eloquent and calm terms but continue the lies and deception. If you lie to someone you love or supposedly love but have come to resent, why the hell should you prostrate yourself in front of a stranger with couple of degrees and do an veracity dump?

Dr. Mike Abrams was personally trained by sex therapy founder, Dr. Albert Ellis in couples therapy and marriage counseling. His approach is to see each member of the couple separately (while both are present in the office) assuring complete confidentiality for all content conveyed in the partial-session to each. Dr. Abrams then formulates -- using the the two perspectives he would now have apprehended -- a model relationship from the participant's points of view. From this he has a clear idea of the difficulties the relationship faces to survive and the specific actions required of each participant to achieve a working and loving relationship.

He then meets with them together and has each recapitulate that portion of what was disclosed in confidence that he or she is willing to reveal in the presence of his/her partner. From this point on the couple is asked to view themselves, the partner and relationship itself in a new light with renewed goals, expectations and demands.

How to Select a Psychologist, Therapist or Counselor

In most major cities, people seeking to provide you with mental health services. The first thing to check for is a license. This may seem unnecessary but unfortunately there is a significant number of people who are not licensed to provide professional services and circumvent the licensing laws by using terms that do not fall under the license laws, terms like life coach or professional advisor are among those that are not regulated. A Google search for licensees in each field should separate this type of wheat from the chaff.

One you have found an individual with a license you will want to ascertain the amount of training or experience they have in the problem you are having. Have they taken courses? Have they taught in the field? Have they published in the area? These are key questions for determining competence.

Related to the previous, determine what they have done to keep up with the field. Find out what they do to learn the latest evidenced based treatments. In general, an educated integrative approach is best.

Here the therapist has developed some competence in several treatment methods and have specific criteria for selecting the one most appropriate for your problem. A major and often overlooked requirement of quality healthcare is the measure the therapist uses to support his or her own diagnosis, progress and hypotheses about you. You would not see a physician who uses no testing to confirm his/her diagnosis. Why would you expect less of a therapist? In fact, some authors have found that therapists that do no have an objective measure of their client's mental status tend to improve minimally with experience.

Finally determine how they bill, how they work with insurance, and how their rates compare with others providing similar services. The very best people do not necessarily charge the highest fees.

Irrational Thinking in Therapy

Half a century ago Albert Ellis noted that a typically intelligent person would often act in ways that seem self-defeating or foolish. His explanation for this phenomenon became the basis of all psychotherapies that are called any of cognitive behavioral, cognitive, interpersonal or Rational Emotive. In contrast to both the psychotherapeutic dogma of his time and his clinical education Ellis came to a novel explanation of emotional dysfunction. His epiphany was that it was not unconscious forces or conflicts that led to adversities that fall within the realm of mental health. Based on a pattern observed among clients, he concluded that all dysfunctions that can be ameliorated by psychotherapy are a result of two factors. The first is a function innate constitutional propensities, the second is the inevitable tendency towards and irrational thinking (ref). Importantly, he observed that people are fully aware of most of their irrational beliefs yet tend to tenaciously maintain them despite their leading to despair and dysfunctional behavior. These conclusions, the product of his early clinical work, and his work as a sex therapist led in 1953 his break with psychoanalysis. Once this break was complete he commenced calling himself a rational therapist through which he advocated psychological interventions with goal of changing peoples irrational thinking and behavior.

Early in the process of developing an new therapeutic paradigm Ellis also noted that people with sexual and intimacy problems were also victims of the same type of irrational thinking. Specifically, the preponderance of sexual difficulties were spawned by rigid inflexible thinking and obsessive demands on people, including oneself. In essence irrational thinking and acting in sexual affairs led to disruptions of relationships, difficulty in achieving stable bonds and emotional distress in encounters. Sexual intimacy in the best of circumstances can be difficult, especially enduring intimacy. In any cases sexual passion lasts just long enough for copulation, occasionally it endures long enough to wean a child in rare and uniquely romantic cases. Love and sex and remain intimately connected for the lifetime of one of the partners.

Sadly, the third case is rare. The dismal reality, based on the high rate of divorce and relationship dissolution is that the transition from romantic love to an enduring conjugal love commonly fails to manifest. Although, divorce rates remained fairly constant in the last two decades, there has been a trend towards fewer couples marrying. For example, approximately 85% of people born from 1940 to 1944 were married by the age of 30 in contrast to the 65% of people born from 1970 to 1974. Estimated divorce and separation rates range from 40% to higher rates as those found by Martin and Bumpass who concluded that when allowing for underreporting the actual rate is closer to 66%. Whatever the precise rate of divorce, it likely understates the rate of relationship dissolution, as many relationships fail before marriage is achieved.

Given high rate of divorce, relationship instability and the range of negative emotions that arise from disrupted relationships it would seem to beg the question is there evidence that the same type of distorted thinking that is addressed in all modern therapies the foundation of despair in love and intimacy. This was studied at this center utilizing two surveys of total of 550 people, it was found that those people who most strongly endorsed the irrational beliefs detailed by Ellis had the greatest degree of sexual difficulties.

Evolution of Human Sexuality

In 1895 Breuer and Freud published a book titled Studies in Hysteria that paved the way for a century of psychoanalytic explanations of human behavior. The theme of the explanations is that expressed or repressed sexuality, aggression underlie and direct all human behavior. Indeed, even the most creative acts are viewed as resulting from disguised sexual intentions in the form of sublimation. Although, psychoanalytic theory has largely failed to meet research support, it seems to have stumbled onto a key principle of today’s zeitgeist, evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology supports the idea that sex does permeate most every aspect of our lives. A man does not buy the expensive sports car only because he wants to drive fast. A woman does not dye her hair or buy a snug fitting dress because she wants to look good for herself. Even someone cramming for college entrance exams might be trying to bring his or her grades up for reasons other than college admissions. Entrance into a better school leads to increased income and consequently better access to a mate.

Supporting this perspective, psychologist David Buss theorized that virtually all male violence has a sexual basis. This point was compellingly detailed by authors Malcolm Potts and Thomas Hayden who cogently argue that most wars can be traced to innate sexual competition. This evolutionary perspective of violence is based on both direct and indirect sexual jealousy. Direct sexual jealousy usually involves a male guarding his mate, whereas indirect jealousy extends to encounters that are tangential to the love relationship. For example, the rage a man feels when slighted is abstractly sexual, as it may result in his losing prestige or social standing. Since all men are potential sexual competitors, loss of face typically leads to a diminution in a man’s access to females. Indeed, many evolutionary psychologists opine that homicidal jealousy is an evolutionary adaption since killing a direct or indirect sexual competitor was an efficient solution during human evolution. Why not? There were no jails, lawsuits or any consequences save for revenge by the slain man’s kin. Killing one’s sexual competitor smoothed the path towards passing one’s genes to future generations. In short, evolution may have made it more adaptive to kill than be cuckolded. The need to take an evolutionary view of sex is emphasized by Dobzhansky, who said “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. By logical extension it follows that nothing in sexuality makes sense except in light of evolution. Psychologists who attempt to understand and treat couples in distress must at least make an attempt to understand human social behavior in terms of our evolutionary past.

Understanding Anxiety

Many psychotherapists still treat anxiety based on the theories of a 19th century Vienna physician who along with collaborator Josef Breuer proposed that anxiety arises when unconsciously repressed sexual and aggressive impulses begin to force their way into consciousness. Despite more than a century of discredit people with anxiety spend hours with therapists who futilely seek to uncover these secret urges as a means to mitigate the anxious anguish of their client. This is a sad waste of time and money.& Anxiety is a natural adaptive emotion that arises primarily from a brain module called the amygdala. This part of the brain mediates fear, aggression, and many other survival related affects.  Importantly, in some people it is far more active than in others.  That is, some people feel fear more intensely and pervasively than others.  Indeed, there are a few people who have been documented to never experience fear or anxiety at all.  And sadly, their are others who are plagued with dread or even terror with the most minor or provocations. 

People with anxiety of the kind described above are bi necessarily deficient. Instead they may very well be adapted for dangerous environments in which fearfulness and the associated vigilance would enhance their survival chances.  However, too much of a good (or adaptive) thing can be problematic.  When someone's amygdala interprets too many events as dangers - and these events include the person's own thoughts -- then fear will be handicapping or even disabling.  Such a person needs to first understand the nature of his or her fears, the circumstances in which they become worse and unique way in which they manifest.  Anxiety is not always perceived as dread but can be experienced as dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and a range of other physical expressions.  One reason for this is one of the many connection sites of the amygdala is the insular cortex that can link bodily sensations to emotions.  An understanding of the multifaceted expressions of anxiety can act to reduce the secondary fears that often accompany it.  The sufferer must then learn to identify the triggers of the the anxiety -- and this is often not readily accomplished.. Joseph LeDoux of New York University has experimentally demonstrated that there are at least two fear pathways one largely conscious and the other unconscious.  Consequently, a person can experience fear or anxiety after being exposed to a thing or event that unconsciously represents danger without any awareness of the anxiety trigger.

Irrational Beliefs and Health Care

Recent research by Dr. Abrams has shown that people with health problems often use irrational beliefs to evade appropriate self-care.  Using a brief measure of personality, Dr. Abrams and his co-workers found that people resistent to new ideas, with less emotional resilence, and less commitement to consciencious behavior often allow their health to deteriorate.  If you have a chronic health problem it is very much in your interest to be aware that your personal philosophy can lead to a unique type of denial that can endanger your health.  Indeed, In his latest study Dr. Abrams found that people with chronic illnesses like diabetes can be expect to have better outcomes if they are made aware of the irational components of their thinking.

The role of therapist training and life problems

Unlike most other health professionals psychotherapists are often self restrained by dogma derived from schools of thought.  These include psychodyanamic, Rational Emotive, Cognitive, Cognitive Behavior, Interpersonal and so on.  The consumer of mental health services needs to carefully evaluate the approach that each therapist applies and his or her ability to apply other approaches.  Very often in reviewing psychologist websites one will find statements indicating that a psychologist is psychodynamic - applying a variation of Fredian Therapy - but that they also claim to use CBT when think it appropriate.  This is very much like a physician saying that they use chiropractic healing but apply real scientific medici wehen necessary.  First, one must ask is the therapist trained in all of these approaches that they claim to use.  Second, it is helpful to know when they think switching approaches is beneficial to the client.  The recent dominance in research of CBT has led many poorly trained therapists to claim to use this approach when in reality they have had no more than a weekend seminar.  What is particularly vexing about this trend is that Cogntiive therapies are not functionally compatible with the traditional dynamic psychotherapies.  The latter predicate their treatment on giving the client insight into the origin of his or her problems.  And from this is posited that the insight cures.  Categorically, this is absurd.  If you were to find that you have low self esteem because you had poor bonding with your mother, do you really think that this discovery will make it go away?  Sadly, things are not that easy; like all major life changes it requires hard work, practice, and commitment to change. Although the therapist's talent is a key factor in therapeutic efficacy, there are certain factors that aid in healing.  Blame is at the core of most emotional disturbances such as Irrational idea (e.g., I must be loved by everyone)à internalize à self-defeating.  We have a tendency to make ourselves emotionally disturbed by internalizing self-defeating beliefs.  CBT hypothesizes that we keep ourselves emotionally disturbed by the process of self-indoctrination  CBT holds that neurotic problems directly stem from magical, unvalidated thinking.


Introduction to Dr. Abrams New book on therapy

More than a century ago physicians formalized a new treatment consisting of reassurance, supportive sympathy, and interpreting the sources of anguish. This talking treatment had always been a part of medicine; it had to be since historically medicine had few other options. There were no antibiotics, no vaccines, limited analgesics, and surgery came with grave risks. Thus, the physician’s most effective treatment usually involved palliatives and kind words. This essential component of medical care evolved into a distinct treatment, a treatment for problems with emotions, thinking, and living. With the advent of talking as a medical treatment a new approach to psychological suffering took hold. This method, no longer solely a province of medicine is now called psychotherapy, is applied in literally hundreds of forms and variations. Some of these variations are predicated on the conjectures of one man who is followed, often zealously, with little variation from its advent in the late 19th century. As it progressed as means to help people with emotional suffering, it has become increasingly based on science, clinical research, and improvement. Psychotherapy and the science supporting it, is primarily a province in the realm of psychology, a professional disciple with many components. An unfortunate consequence of psychology’s many subfields is the common tendency for many to give only cursory attention to advancements in their sister disciplines. One such advancement that has been growing within psychology has been the integration of psychological and evolutionary science.

This new field is both logical and necessary. Indeed, since every aspect of our being is at least partially a product of eons of natural selection, it follows understanding natural selection is a requisite for those interested in the functions and dysfunctions of the psyche. Very few argue that complex organs such as the human eye, the heart, and the brain are the result of eons of descent with modification. Even the most complex parts of our anatomy developed as a result of eons of beneficial mutations. Of course, mutations, often referred to as birth defects, are typically deleterious, given vast amounts of time and in the right environmental setting will yield incremental advantages. If this advantage provides even a very small increase in the likelihood of reproduction it will tend to be passed along to offspring. And over thousands of millennia these mutations will combine, or interact, with other genetic changes to produce new organs, new brain functions, or entirely new species. In an extremely distilled form, this is essence of Darwin’s model of species change or what is commonly referred to as evolution – a term that Darwin himself did not use (ref). Evolution refers to an unfolding process, one with an implied direction or purpose. This is not the spirit of this unique process. Instead, it has no direction, no goal, and no purpose. It is a natural process of trial and error in which those attributes that endow the inheritors with even the slightest advantage in reproductive survival will be among the last left standing.

Over the last few decades evolutionary principles have been shown to provident convincing explanations for many psychological phenomena. Like all paradigm changes in science it has elicited contention and debate, some examples will be discussed later in this chapter. However, the growing body of evidence has left little doubt that this approach to has offered powerful new ways to understand human thinking and behavior. Unlike many earlier schools of thought in psychology, the work in evolutionary psychology has almost exclusively been limited to explanations as opposed to applications. Such explanations, have provided new insights into jealousy (e.g. Buss & Abrams, 2016), aggression (Buss), sexual orientation (Abrams), anxiety (Price; Brune), reproductive anatomy (Gallup), Love (Fisher), and even psychosis (Price).

This book will show that evolution is at least as important to clinical psychology as it is to the developmental, biological, and neurological branches of the science. The study of natural selection has revealed, that evolutionarily adapted traits are best understood when considered as products of the environment that man resided in when those traits evolved. Evolutionary psychologists refer to this ancestral setting as the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness (EEA). Importantly, this does not refer to specific time but any epoch that was sufficiently different from the present so as cognitive or behavioral traits that do not necessarily remain as optimal. That is, many of our psychological inclinations evolved to aid survival in settings very much different from the one in which we now reside. This will be shown to be an essential premise of evolutionary cognitive behavior therapy or Adaptive CBT. Specifically, clinicians, as well as theoreticians need to be aware that people now live in settings radically different from the ones in which their distant progenitors developed. As a result, many of our methods of dealing with problems, perceiving our environment, judging others or even assessing ourselves don’t match the current demands of our world. As a result, many psychological problems are that superficially appear to be disorders may actually be functional solutions mismatched with a new environment (Gluckman & Hanson, 2006).

Jealousy when classified as pathological can be an exemplar of a mismatch disorder. As I will discuss at length later in the book, one consumed with jealously will often be diagnosed with any number of psychological disorders. However, this person although classified as psychologically ill, may very well possess innate predispositions that served him quite beneficially during earlier epochs. During eras in which there was no paternity testing, few consequences for violent acts, or no social welfare programs for single mothers, jealousy could have been quite beneficial. The unquestioning man in a primeval epoch took the catastrophic risk of contributing resources and reproductive time to unrelated offspring if he had been cuckolded. Most anthropologists (Marlowe, 2000) agree that early hunter gathers contributed to the upbringing of his offspring. However, small this contribution may have been, those that provided it after being deceived by their mate did so at a significant cost to their genetic legacy. ** if a man had a high confidence in his paternity, and helped their offspring through early development they were far more likely to have their genes permeate future generations.

This premise will require that mental health professionals become conversant not only the demands of daily living, but the demands of living eons ago. They will need to understand the role the EEA had on today’s thinking and behaving. It may surprise many to learn that this term was coined by developmental and attachment theorist John Bowlby (1982, p. 58). Bowlby’s attachment theory, now a foundation of many psychoanalytic writers, is actually a biological theory. According to Bowlby the need for attachment as an evolutionary old instinct. An early evolutionary psychologist, he considered a knowledge of evolution as requisite to comprehending human nature. According to Bowlby, humans are endowed with a large number of instinctual behaviors and inclinations that can only be fully appreciated when considering the environment in which they evolved. This is s the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness. If Bowlby is correct, many behaviors and psychological disorders that are superficially inscrutable, are only so, because we view them solely with a contemporaneous perspective.

Introduction to Dr. Abrams New book on Sexuality

If one observes people carefully, virtually every action one witnesses will have some connection to sexuality. Of course, many of these connections will be quite abstractly associated with the physical acts of sex, but they will be sexual nonetheless. As will be made clear in this book, sex is more than procreation. It organizes our identities, the way we perceive others, and the way others judge us. It guides our vocational efforts and our quest for status and recognition. Sexuality guides our speech, our gestures, the way we walk, our willingness to fight or flee, and even our assessment of beauty. The following are a few examples of endeavors that may not seem sexual unless one examines them at the deepest level: men who spend hours in a gym to enhance their muscularity; women who mockingly refer to an expensive sports car as a compensation for manhood; women who enlarge their breasts and sculpt their buttocks; men who routinely take drugs to increase blood flow to their penises; people of all sexes who select clothing to either enhance their attractiveness or broadcast their social status; the relatives of a new mother who emphasize the baby’s facial similarity to the father; the prosperous men who go to great lengths to make sure that other people, especially women, are aware of their elite status; women who spend hours accoutering themselves to look as youthful and fertile as possible; individuals who use social media to disseminate negative gossip about sexual competitors and positive gossip about themselves; and those who, when told of a much older man courting a younger woman, reflexively respond with, “I’ll bet he has money.”

And I ask the reader, Do you really behave the same way with a person that you feel attracted to compared to one who does not pique your interest? In fact, sexual attraction alters perceptions such that the attractive person will seem more astute, appear emotionally more stable, be more interesting, and even smell better. These and countless other interpersonal exchanges are intimately connected to sex and reproduction. As will be made clear, these and other human behaviors that may not seem immediately connected to sexuality will be shown as deeply connected to our sexual imperative. The specific manifestation of any sexual expression will be shaped by culture, societal traditions, and even regulations. But when one peels away the veneer of norms, most of these will be found to be essential human expressions related to love, intimacy, and sexual reproduction.

There is no contradiction that the underlying forces that shape the multiform expression of our sexuality are distinct from our expressed reasons for having sex. Like many superficially volitional acts guided by nonconscious motivations, their explanation is often confabulated. This is because we are fundamentally explaining our actions to ourselves. We are prone to evade the apprehension that we do not always have access to the crucial reasons why we do things. Cindy Meston and the renowned evolutionary psychologist, David Buss (interviewed in this book), surveyed 1,549 college students about their reasons for having sex. The respondents initially provided more than 700 reasons that were distilled into 237 core reasons. These were further reduced to 4 factors and 13 subfactors. The finding shows that the respondents’ core motives were centered on physical desires such as stress reduction, pleasure seeking, attaining a desirable partner; goal attainment by way of accessing the resources of their partner, increasing social status, revenge against a competitor; reasons of personal insecurity in which sex elevated self-esteem; guarding their mate against potential competitors; and lastly, emotional reasons that included sex as an expression of love. Notably, the fourth factor, love, explained the least variance in women and none in men. What is most germane about this study is that the original 715 reasons given for having sex tended to be largely superficial and hedonic. That is, most students said they wanted to have sex simply because it was fun, it felt good, and it made them feel good about themselves. But when their reasons were factor-analyzed, deeper themes like revenge, mate guarding, resource acquisition, and acquiring an ideal partner were discovered. These are some of the key motives that evolutionary psychology not only predicts as ultimate sexual motives, but also suggests that they motivate most actions in life.

Despite the previous results in which people claim that their reasons for sex are straightforward, in actuality, sexuality is complexly insinuated into the fabric of all human striving. The universality of sexuality is the bedrock of the social nature of humans. Indeed, our social standing among others is important because it directly impacts our sexual viability. This reality belies the adage that one shouldn’t care about what others think. If people really didn’t care, BMWs would supplant Volkswagens, and Cadillacs would be exchanged for Chevrolets. Expensive jewelry would become quite rare. Students would be less willing to pay the costly tuitions of elite colleges, and would readily accept the education at their state university. Great poetry, literature, painting, and sculpture would be rare. And all the servers in restaurants, waiting for their big break in theatre, would instead concentrate on waiting on tables. For what purpose would fame, impressive cars, status, or impressive degrees perform if we didn’t care what the devotees think? In truth, we are deeply inclined to care what people think about everything we do; and this concern motivates us to achieve, create art, to discover scientific truths, and even climb mountains. Because fame, creativity, lavish clothing, and social status make us sexier.

A pansexual view such as I have been discussing was proposed a century ago by a creative writer and genius in self-promotion, who set out to make himself a legend, and at this he succeeded. He constructed explanations of individual motivation and a model of the structure of the psyche. He proposed an origin of myths and religion, and he purported to explain dreams, aggression, and the nature of love. In fact, he fabricated the most comprehensive psychosocial theory that had ever existed. His work had a fascinating appeal because it made each of us a unique composite of dynamic forces worthy of years of analysis. However, over time, every essential theory of Freud has been shown to be critically flawed or simply wrong,[1] except for the one that had led to the most contention. Specifically, Freud had asserted that libido, the source of all sexual drive, underlies everything we do. As we will see, he was right in principle and wrong in explanation. Sexuality does indeed inspire virtually all that we do. But it is not a result of the sexual life force called libido. Rather, sex became crucial through the natural selection of somatic and psychological traits that are all sexually conveyed. Since most of what we are and much of what we think is conveyed through sex, then sex must be the guiding force of life.

Over the past three decades, there has been an accelerating paradigm change in psychology that is providing fascinating revelations about human behavior. Prior to this new paradigm, evolutionary psychology, human behavior was described through a collection of competing schools of thought. Personality was modeled as an amalgam of representations such as a collection of factorial traits, repressed impulses, hidden replicas of significant others, or biological impulses. Intelligence was a function of speed of neural processing, dense and efficient cortical connections, or developmental reinforcement. Social actions were understood in terms of culture and vicarious or direct learning. And disordered thinking or behavior had even more competing explanatory schemes. Indeed, virtually every aspect of the human psyche was depicted by numerous and often mutually exclusive representations. And most of these were held apart from the rest of the person in a continuing Cartesian dualism. There were in effect numerous minds and a body, but there was no convincing means to integrate them. Then gradually a concept more than a century old was revealed to be the best means to both explore and understand our species. In 1858, Charles Darwin initiated a revolution that would ultimately show that every feature of every living thing arose from chance mutations. Each of these mutations was then selected or discarded based on their respective contribution to reproductive success. Consequently, the value of any contribution was never absolute, but had an importance contingent on environmental settings. In essence, there are no good traits or bad ones, only traits that best fit the particular environment in which the trait arises. The shape of the beak of a finch or the size of a mammal’s brain had relevance only in the context of how that feature aided the host’s survival in a given ecosystem. And if it aided survival, such that its host could produce more offspring, then that trait would be passed along.

From the time of Darwin, there were a few thinkers, including Darwin himself, who hinted that natural selection applied to behavioral traits; but it wasn’t until the latter part of the 20th century that people like E. O. Wilson, Michael Ghiselin, Robert Trivers, David Buss, Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Robert Wright, Douglas Kenrick, and Gordon Gallup initiated a paradigmatic change in psychology, sociology, sexology, and all other social sciences. With this change, scientists of human behavior began looking to natural selection to explain all human thought, emotion, and behavior. The social sciences began to heed the declaration of biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. Now scientifically minded social scientists are increasingly following the allied principle that nothing in humanity makes sense except in the light of evolution. Arguably, the first sex therapist and the founder of modern psychotherapy, Albert Ellis, PhD, tacitly took an evolutionary approach to psychology and sexuality. Ellis recognized that sexual behavior has a strong innate component and that many of the thoughts or actions that are viewed as pathological are actually attributes that were adapted for earlier settings. Decades later, this principle would become the most significant scientific basis for understanding sexual behavior. And this book, while reviewing many perspectives, is research-based and will explore sexuality accordingly. Moreover, a careful review of the scientific evidence on sexuality leads one inexorably to the natural selection perspective. Quite simply, no other model explains the observations as well.

As Albert Ellis and I explained in our text on personality, there has long been a bias found in some experts against explaining human behavior in terms of adaptations, as these writers view this as opening a slippery slope to racism, eugenics, or antihumanism. However, to deny an essential truth because some might abuse it to justify bigotry comes at a great price. It is for this reason that I include an interview with the late J. Phillipe Rushton. He was a very gentle and pleasant man, but he presented theories that were tinged with insensitivity at best and racism at worst. However, by giving a forum to someone who indeed took evolutionary psychology to the extreme most feared by its detractors, I can help clarify that such extremes present no danger so long as they can be openly refuted. For Rushton used the logic of evolutionary psychology to propose models that instantiated the very worst fears of those who find it a potential danger. And as a result, Rushton was branded a racist and his ideas were marginalized. It is clear that any fears that evolutionary psychology will be used to justify social injustice are unfounded.

It is because our sexuality is the result of an incremental evolutionary process that it is comprised of forces both powerful and nonconscious. That is, all of us at some time in our lives will feel compelled by our sexual drives in ways that leave us chagrined by our own behavior. Surely, the reader has been in the throes of sexual arousal and made decisions in what must have seemed to be an altered state of consciousness. At the time of arousal, these decisions seemed perfectly rational. Then with the waning of the passion, many of us are left shaken or even ashamed by our behavior. In prior eras, this was explained by the unconscious forces of the libido and id. However, a research-supported model holds that our sexual drives are mediated by evolutionarily old mechanisms controlled by primeval brain centers. These ancient drives are frequently not compatible with the values embedded in the phylogenetically newer neocortex. These drives can be so alien to our self-image that we often have trouble recalling how we were feeling once we are back in a nonaroused state. In fact, as you read this, try to recall how you felt, and what you were thinking, when you were last strongly sexually excited. You may recall the source of the stimulation and where you were, but it is unlikely that you will recapture the state of mind. Clearly our sex drive is a powerful and often dominating force in our lives. But unlike our other appetitive drives, it has profound social, cultural, and even legal restrictions. With such dynamics being involved with it, and its being so intertwined with our psyche, the study of sex must be based on legitimate science and research, as even the best research on sexuality can be swayed by the powerful influence of sex on our thinking.

Anything that can subvert our thoughts or social judgments cannot be trusted to intuition or memory. As Elizabeth Loftus (interviewed in this book) has shown, memory must always be treated with skepticism. And none of us can be trusted to know ourselves when forces in our lives are sufficiently strong as to lead us to self-deception. Loftus and other memory researchers have shown that each of our realities is largely constructed in the form of a personal narrative that fits best with our self-image, our worldview, and our moral values. And this construction is particularly malleable when we confront our biases, fears, and fragile self-concepts. So, although this book does somewhat rely on the observations of a practitioner who has worked with and studied sexual matters for 30 years, these observations are always subordinated to the nearly 900 sources referenced in this book. Although not a perfect path to the truth, the scientific method is the best means we have of finding it. So the vast preponderance of the exploration of sexuality presented here will be based on scientific evidence. And when the evidence and personal experience are at loggerheads, the science always wins. Complementing the data and interpretations in this book are interviews with key figures in the world of sexuality. The interviews provide perspectives from people who have acquired either comprehensive or uniquely specialized knowledge about sexual behavior. Most of the people interviewed have earned international reputations for their accomplishments. It is strongly suggested that all of these interviews should be carefully read, as they are compelling complements to the text, and much of their content is not found anywhere else—in this book or any other.