HUMAN NATURE: A DEVELOPMENTAL PERSPECTIVE
Rational emotive behavior therapy is based on the assumption that humans have a biological tendency to think irrationally or dysfunctionally, as well as rationally or functionally (Dryden, 2002c; Dryden, DiGiuseppe, & Neenan, 2003). Therefore, even though they have an inborn propensity toward growth and actualization, human beings can readily sabotage their growth by their unrealistic, illogical, or other types of defeatist thinking (Dryden & Ellis, 2001; Ellis, 2001b, 2002b). Ellis and Dryden (1997) noted that, although social influences exist, even people with the most rational upbringing show evidence of major irrationalities and often adopt new irrationalities after giving up previous ones. Nevertheless, REBT theory clearly asserts that despite the tendency to think irrationally humans have the ability to construct self-enhancing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and are strongly motivated to change things for the better (Ellis, 2001a; Ellis & Dryden, 1997).
Fundamental to REBT is the notion that people's contradictory nature, along with their social upbringing, not only impels them to create happier and more fulfilling lives but also encourages them to elevate strong goals, desires, and preferences into absolutistic and unrealistic shoulds, oughts, and musts that lead to emotional and behavioral difficulties. Dryden et al. (2003) noted that these shoulds, oughts, and musts fall under three main categories: self-demandingness, other-demandingness, and world-demandingness. Self-demandingness refers to the idea that one must always perform well and win others' approval; and if one does not, one is incompetent, unworthy, and deserves to suffer. Self- hatred, anxiety, and depression often result from self-demandingness, along with procrastination, withdrawal, and obsessiveness. Other-demandingness implies that people with whom one associates must always treat one kindly, considerately, and fairly; and if they do not, they are unworthy, bad, rotten, and deserve to be punished. Anger, rage, hurt, jealousy, vindictiveness, and violence develop as a result of other-demandingness. Worlddemandingness means that the conditions in which one lives must be enjoyable, hassle- free, safe, and favorable; and if they are not, it is awful, horrible, and unbearable. This form of demandingness often leads to anger, depression, self-pity, and low frustration tolerance, as well as withdrawal, procrastination, phobias, and addictions (Ellis, 1994).