Philosophy as Cognitive Therapy

epictetus1

Albert Ellis, the founder of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, was originally a Psychoanalyst but became disillusioned with its results. He turned to the teachings of an ancient Roman slave and philosopher – Epictetus. Epictetus was Greek, and followed the teachings of Socrates and Plato.

The Stoic philosophy has a familiar ring because it uses basically the same method as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – We can control our beliefs through rational dialogue, and build habits of thinking about the world realistically without becoming the slave of our emotions and the slave of circumstance. This is also the fundamental principle discovered by Stephen Covey in the bestseller “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

In this TED talk, Jules Evans describes how he suffered from panic attacks and stumbled upon CBT, which lead to the curing of his anxiety. He was so taken by this experience that he decided to interview Albert Ellis about the influence Epictetus had on his psychological theories.

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