ABC Theory of Emotion
|The rational-emotive process|
|Activating Event A + Belief B ------> Emotional Consequence C|
The ABC Theory of Emotion represents a widely accepted model of how one's feelings and behavioral patterns are created. It asserts that the emotions we experience such as, for example, frustration or anxiety, and resulting behavior, do not come directly from the events in our lives, but from the interpretations[note 1] we make of those events, i.e. from conscious or subconscious beliefs we bring to that situation. Its roots stem from a Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET) developed initially by Albert Ellis in 1955. According to him, over 200 research articles confirm this theory.
The traditional viewpoints and approaches about human behavior fail especially when it comes to understanding and dealing with so called disturbed character. Problems with functioning well in a social context are not so much a consequence of the way a person feels, but are associated with distorted thinking patterns and dysfunctional core beliefs. The current research indicates that the cognitive-behavioral therapy consisting in confronting these erroneous thinking patterns and reinforcing a person's willingness to change them, together with their resulting behavior patterns, is the treatment of choice in such case. Taking constructive action in one's life, such as disputing old irrational beliefs, helps one to live a full and meaningful existence and not be ruled by one's emotional state.[note 2] Disturbed emotions as consequences and concomitants of irrational beliefs can be inappropriately fueled and amplified beyond control also by addictive abuse of psychoactive substances.
- 1 The Basic model
- 2 The Extended model
- 3 The consequences of lack of universal standards of right and wrong
- 4 Assertive thinking challenges irrational beliefs
- 5 Character disturbance is associated with rejection of assertive thinking
- 6 Examples
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
The Basic model
The model's fundamental principle can be outlined as follows:
- A...stands for Activating events in people's lives; these events represent what happens.
- B...stands for people's conscious or subconscious Beliefs about these events and their meaning.
- C...stands for emotional and behavioural Consequences or Concomitants of their beliefs; they represent the feelings and behavioural patterns (Conduct) these people have as a result.
After identifying these elements the central proposition of the theory is that the emotional and behavioural consequence (C) is not caused by the Activating event (A) directly, but by interpretation or belief (B) one has of the meaning of the activating event.
The Extended model
According to practitioners of RET, there is also extension of ABC theory for corrective approach consisting in learning how to dispute with our previous beliefs and replace them with new ones:
- D...stands for Disputive belief or statement representing more accurate self-talk as result of effort to bring our emotional responses and behaviours under the control by learning to identify what we are saying to ourselves.[note 3] This would then likely lead to:
- E...stands for the new Emotional consequence, feeling of relief and/or functional behavior.
The consequences of lack of universal standards of right and wrong
Stoic philosophers such as Epictetus placed great emphasis on self-control – and, therefore, they rejected the idea that emotion may have any worth in deciding whether an action or goal is worthy.
When people are no longer guided by universal standards of right or wrong, they have nothing more reliable than their own feelings to guide them. When people are operating primarily on the basis of feelings and emotions, they are wide open to every sort of imaginable psychological manipulation. This is then misused by modern marketing techniques that do not operate through appeal to reason but by directly targeting the emotions.
Assertive thinking challenges irrational beliefs
Sometimes people's thinking is so influenced by their emotions that their thinking is neither logical nor truthful. At those times, they "can't think straight," and irrational beliefs may form the basis for their choices and decisions. Those irrational beliefs however may be challenged by assertive thinking. Assertive thinking seeks the truth by trying to determine what is unreasonable, illogical, or absurd, and then leads to rejecting those thoughts marked by such traits.
Character disturbance is associated with rejection of assertive thinking
Disturbed characters, whose aggressive behavior is characterized by stubborn rejection of exerting assertive skills, often claim that some person or circumstance made them do what they did instead of acknowledging that they had a choice about how to respond to the situation and failed to choose wisely. Hardened heads who persist in their defiance and pride; whatever is preached or said to them, they will not listen; when they are reproved, in order that they may learn to know themselves and amend, they become mad and foolish so as to fairly merit wrath.
- A: Activating event: Christopher Yuan explains in his book 'Out of A Far Country', co-authored with his mother, that what happened to him, when he was just 9 years old, was that he was exposed to pornography in a friend's house.[note 4] That gave him a distorted view of what sexuality is and awoke feelings of being attracted by images of both men and women.[note 5]
|The first principle|
|“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” [note 6]|
|The luring demand upon sense of curiosity|
|“In my lifetime, [pornography that my dad never even have tried to hide in a place where there'd be no risk of me finding it] has only served to awaken and exacerbate temptations I was fighting to overcome, and I found that it placed an unexpected kind of luring demand upon my sense of curiosity toward homosexual experiences I hadn't yet tried. Any way you dissect it, it's just dangerous to view it.”|
- B: Belief about the activation event and its meaning: Little by little, he interpreted the activation event in line with popular unscientific misbelief that such feelings of sexual attraction can only be the result of being 'born gay'.[note 7] Such phenomenon when our ability to fool ourselves can push us towards erroneous conclusions is recognized as ideomotor effect.
- C: Behavioural consequences of the belief: His irrational belief about the activation event produced his later behavioural patterns including sexual experimentation, visiting gay clubs and bars, and promiscuous sexual encounters with other men. This homosexual lifestyle[note 8] was not caused directly by activation event itself, but by his interpretation of its meaning. Later, after being diagnosed as HIV positive, he realized that his justification for homosexuality was wrong and he mistakenly allowed his feelings and sexual passions to dictate who he was.[note 9] When passions are confused with same-sex attractions, people still have to choose to act on those feelings and their personal beliefs play the key role in this respect. Slovak homosexual Jozef Demjan who previously had six relations with men quit his homosexual lifestyle and in 2012 married Julia after he changed the interpretation of his same-sex attractions. He compares them to birds that "one cannot prevent from flying all over your head but what one can do is to prevent them to make a nest upon it."[note 10] Similarly, Michael Glatze, an ex-prominent gay activist and former editor of a San Francisco-based, youth-focused homosexual magazines XY Magazine and Young Gay America (Y.G.A.), renounced homosexuality, decided to break up with his ex-partner of 10 years and in October 2013 married a woman, Rebekah. His transformation from gay to straight began after he started to question his lifestyle following a health scare. Now he stands by his opinion about homosexuality as a flawed and mistaken lifestyle. How we think, what we believe, and the attitudes we've developed largely determine how we will act. Dennis Jernigan who walked out of a homosexual lifestyle explains that more he changed the way he thought, the more his true needs and desires were met. His disturbed and twisted feelings as result of former irrational beliefs were replaced with right feelings due to the new way he was thinking.
People tend to give to feelings of romantic love a status of autonomous authority over marriage. When the disillusioned couples discover that "we just don't love each other anymore," they tearfully conclude that their marriage has lost its essential basis for existence. Although love is essential ingredient of marriage, the marriage does not depend upon love for its continued existence. The nature and place of romantic love needs to be reexamined. Marriage gives to love a situation of stability and permanence, wherin it can grow toward maturity and rescues love from tyranny of strong but immature feelings. It helps a person to live out times of difficulty and win through to new depths of love and understanding. In line with ABC theory of emotion, love is far more subject to will than we suppose. We help cultivate and develop love (emotional Consequence C) because we set our mind (Belief B) to do so in reaction to awareness of being married (Activation event A). Couples who come to the despairing conclusion that "we just don't love each other anymore" should be told quite simply, "Well, start learning!" In marriage, we are not the helpless pawns of love, but rather we train love to be the willing servant of our marriage. This kind of love does not grow in the sandy soil of our immediate feelings, but it roots down into the rich subsoil of mutual esteem. In considering the structure of marriage, the Christian woman holds her mate in the high regard which God has conferred on him with the name 'husband'; the Christian man likewise cherises the woman whom God has honored with the name 'wife'. A reverence for the dignity and honor which God has bestowed upon one's mate establishes married love upon an enduring foundation. From Biblical perspective, romantic feelings of love are not the basis for marriage, but the issue or outcome of successful marriage. Biblical approach consisting in commanding us to love one another is compatible with the principles discovered in the ABC Theory of Emotion.
- cf. "The difference between believing and disbelieving a statement – your spouse is cheating on you; you’ve just won $10 million [“You’re gay. You were born that way. Accept it.”] – is one of the most potent regulators of human behavior and emotion. The instant we accept a given representation of the world as true, it becomes the basis for further thought and action; rejected as false it remains a string of words." Our thoughts — cognition — play the key role in determining what emotions will be roused. Once we make an appraisal — "that taxi driver is cheating me" or "this baby is adorable," a fitting emotional response follows.
- cf. "Feelings come and go, and clearly do not last forever."
- cf. "Neither emotion nor will are an argument, if there is no common sense involved." Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk It takes will to keep emotion under the control of reason.
- cf. Exposure to pornography, especially at a young age, can also be gateway into the „gay“ lifestyle itself. Just as happy memories cheer us up, or melancholy thoughts make us reflective, so can a sexual fantasy lead to sexual feelings.
- Feeling distant from her unsympathetic mother, Anne Frank, a teenage girl, writes of her confusing sexual attraction for females in a diary addressed to imaginary friend: "I remember that once when I slept with a girlfriend, I had a strong desire to kiss her and that I did so. I could not help being terribly inquisitive over her body, for she had always kept it hidden from me. ... I go into ecstasies every time I see the naked figure of a woman. ... It strikes me as so wonderful and exquisite that I have difficulty in stopping the tears rolling down my cheeks. If only I had a girlfriend." Anne Frank's disclosure is a vivid example of the kinds of thoughts within many young people who occasionally experience this type of attraction. They are both alarmed and excited in the fleeting moments or dreams when their bodies are sexually drawn to the same sex. Same-sex attractions are not unusual among teenagers. Some say that these attractions qualify a person as "homosexual." But this isn't true. The attractions exist, in part, for reasons outside of a person and do not mean they are abnormal. The existence of such feelings, however, signals a deep hunger and profound confusion. Longing to escape from our isolation is very often combined with the greatest force we have within us: our sexual impulse. When this is so, we will readily ignore any restraints. Ex-lesbian Lisa Miller explained that after she quit the homosexual lifestyle she realized that her feelings of same-sex attractions can just as easily be transferred to a man - "it's as if I just want someone to love me," she wrote. The struggles with same-sex attractions are no different than the struggles with loneliness, insecurity, and wanting to fill that emptiness and void with someone who could make a person feel special, loved, and wanted. Especially without a support system such a functional family, these feelings and strong desire to be loved unconditionally could lead to inappropriate thoughts of relationships, in the Extended ABC Theory of Emotion called irrational Beliefs.
- The first Slovak documentary film on the gay community Crying of Angels (2005-2008) by Zuza Piussi captures the activating event for entering the homosexual lifestyle by one of the film’s major young protagonists in the following way:
- cf. Ideomotor effect
- External Link: Are brains "gay"?
- "Worse yet: when people lament their homosexual tendencies, you have just told them, “You’re gay. You were born that way. Accept it.” Of course what you do not realize is that homosexuality is a learned response, a teachable response, and a recruitable response. Such recruitment took place in ancient Greece, and again in medieval Rome. And recent evidence suggests it is taking place again."
- The Christians are frequently blamed and labeled for being intolerant against homosexuals. Recently it became a part of public debate in Germany when at one event there was held a workshop offering help to people struggling with same-sex attractions. One of my teachers asked me how come that Christians are so “intolerant”. I gave her the following answer: “Think twice who is actually intolerant. There are number of people who have “homosexual” tendencies, because they were abused as children, seduced, or something similar. Many simply have homosexual fantasies, but they don’t like it and feel concerned about it. They seek for help, but at the same time they feel embarrassed to acknowledge it. They would like to live in normal way, but are struggling with their emotions. And today they are told: “You cannot have any problem! Just be homosexuals, whether you like it or not! It is compulsory upon you to be them!” Is this tolerant? There are multiples of people being ignored, who search for help, but it cannot be granted to them. They are being ignored by totalitarian homo-policy, and not tolerated! And woe to you should you be interested to help them.” This teacher was not stupid, she acknowledged my point.
- Note: The Christian ethics is based on Christ's teaching in the Gospels that we should multiply our talents, behave ethically, and not be extravagant in lifestyle. Homosexual lifestyle is based on nonprocreative, essentially sterile act of sodomy that is, as scientific device shows, intrisically unfit for generation. It includes morally corrupt sexual behavior, such as anal intercourse, thus as such can be regarded as extravagant and representing antithesis to moral and ethical behaviour and lifestyle.
- cf. Homosexuality is a persistent preoccupation with erotic encounters involving members of the same sex, which may or may not be acted out with another person. Put another way, it is making deliberate plans to entertain and cooperate in sexual fantasies or behaviors with someone of the same sex. Although having the same-sex attractions is not something for which we are morally responsible, it is when we begin planning to entertain these attractions in fantasy or behavior that we cross the line. If the attractions turn into a preoccupation, the temptation to embrace homosexual behavior is great and at the end it can develop into obsessive compulsive disorder. At the heart of the homosexual condition is a deep loneliness, the natural human hunger for mutual love, a search for identity, and a longing for completeness.
- Terry Hurlbut (August 24, 2013). Homosexuality: Open Letter To Christie. Retrieved on October 31, 2013.
- (2006) "Sam Harris", in John Brockman: What we believe but cannot prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the age of certainty. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-084181-2.
- Daniel Goleman (1995). "Appendix B: Hallmarks of the Emotional Mind", Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Bantam Books, 328, 336–7. ISBN 978-05538-40070.
- (1993) "9", A Christian's Guide to Critical Thinking. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 336. ISBN 1-59752-661-4. Retrieved on 16.2.2012.
- Albert Ellis. Expanding the ABCs of RET. Retrieved on August 30, 2013. “The original ABCs of rational-emotive therapy (RET)—where A stands for the Activating events in people's lives, B for their Beliefs about these events, and C for the emotional and behavioral Consequences or Concomitants of their Beliefs—have proved very popular and therapeutically useful since RET was created in 1955. These ABCs have been expanded over the years by Ellis and other writers on RET. This article presents an up-to-date and more detailed expansion of the ABCs, with special emphasis on expanding the more common rational Beliefs (rBs) and irrational Beliefs (iBs)”
- George K. Simon (2011). "Introduction", Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of Our Age. Little Rock, USA: Parkhurst Brothers, 42. ISBN 978-1-935166-33-7. “How we think in large measure determines how we will act.”
- George Simon (1996, 2010). "8 The Manipulaive Child", In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and dealing with Manipulative People. Little Rock, USA: Parkhurst Brothers, 38, 105. ISBN 978-1-935166-30-6.
- Lauren Slater (February 3, 2002). The Trouble With Self-Esteem. The New York Times. Retrieved on December 22, 2014. “Reynolds writes, Cure is not defined by the alleviation of discomfort or the attainment of some ideal state (which is impossible) but by taking constructive action in one's life which helps one to live a full and meaningful existence and not be ruled by one's emotional state.”
- Ulrich Parzany (2009). Pochybnosti a úžas (Doubt and awe) (in Slovak). ViViT, 52. ISBN 978-80892-64223. “Pocity prichádzajú a odchádzajú, no jednoznačne nemajú trvácnosť.”
- (2011) christopheryuan. WaterBrook Press, 6, 11, 82, 186, 187. ISBN 978-0-307-72935-4. “It's not something I can choose. I was born this way...I am gay. ... I went from thinking, There is something wrong with me, to, This is who I am. ... When I stepped into the gay community, I was introduced to a world of outcasts who had come together and become family. ... With my newfound confidence, I became popular in the gay club scene. ... Life with Derek was a roller-coaster ride from the start. For the first few weeks, every morning he'd tell me how much he loved me, how glad he was I'd moved in with him. I felt like we had become one - our souls enmeshed. But in reality, much of the passion between us was fueled by Ecstasy - thus our relationship was fierce and intense, both good and bad. ... When I asked where he'd been, he got angry and told me that I should get my own place. So I started packing my staff. ... Derek had told me so many times that I was the one. Now I couldn't break free of his strong grip, and he was about to kill me. ... he pushed me away and yelled, "Get out!"”
- Bohumil Sláma (2010). Zapomenutý prorok Tomáš G. Masaryk (in Czech). Ateliér Sláma, 31. ISBN 978-8025-484333. “Cit ani vůle nejsou argument, chybí-li rozum.”
- Epictetus (Introduction by Kristan K. Husby) (2017). "Introduction", Manual on the art of living. AIORA Press, 15. ISBN 978-618-5048-70-9.
- David Kupelian (2005). The marketing of evil: How radicals, elitists, and pseudo-experts sell us corruption disguised as freedom. WND Books, 99. ISBN 978-1-58182-459-9.
- Ruth N. Koch & Kenneth C. Haugk (1992). "2. The Assertive Life-style", Speaking the Truth in Love. Stephen Ministries, 33. ISBN 978-09633-83112. “Thoughts Sometimes Come First, Then Feelings ... Thoughts Can Modify Feelings ... Assertive Thinking Focuses on the Truth ... Assertive Thinking Identifies and Challenges Irrational Beliefs”
- George Simon (27 Feb 2009). Playing the Blame Game as a Manipulation Tactic. CounsellingResource. Retrieved on 21 Nov 2018.
- Martin Luther. The Large Catechism. Retrieved on 21 Nov 2018.
- Christopher Yuan's story (3 May 2010). Retrieved on August 30, 2013. “When he was 9 years old, Christopher saw pornography in a friend's house. That's when he started thinking: Maybe he was different. Those images just awoke something in me that I didn't know was there but I also noticed that I was attracted by images of both men and women. He decided to keep his feelings secret with hope they will go away, but they didn't. All these feelings were kind of bubbling up in me and I was kind of keeping them held down. ...”
- Scott Lively (2009). Redeeming the Rainbow: A Christian Response to the "Gay" Agenda, 1 (Version 1.1), Veritas Aeterna Press.
- Christopher Yuan (3 May 2010). HOPE+ CrossRoads Video. christopheryuan.com. Retrieved on August 30, 2013. “Then at an early age I was exposed to pornography when I was just 9 years old. That really gave me a distorted view of what sexuality is... it was at that point that I realized that there was this attraction that I didn't really understand to both sexes ... I began to experiment with all these things that most kids experiment in college going to the bar and experiment sexually...I came across the gay clubs so I started going to those and I decided this is the way, this is what I was...”
- Jeff Olson (1996). When Passions Are Confused. RBC Ministries, discoveryseries.org, 14.
- Wilhelm Busch (2001). Jesus Our Destiny. Inter Publishing Services, 85. ISBN 0-86347-024-6.
- Rena M. Lindevaldsen (2011). The Lisa Miller Story: Only One Mommy: A Woman's Battle for Her Life, Her Daughter, and Her Freedom. New Revolution Publishers, 69, 118. ISBN 978-1-937102-01-2.
- Zuza Piussi (2005). Crying of Angels (Slovak, English) 01min:55sec. atelier.doc. Retrieved on November 3, 2013. “To je prvý človek na ktorého som tak neskutočne naviazaný, ja zaspávam myslím na neho, sa zobúdzam, myslím na neho, ja robím hocičo, myslím na neho. Vieš aký je to pocit keď Ti niekto rozpráva ako sa mu strašne páčiš, ako Ťa chce, ako Ťa zbožňuje, každý kúsok Tvojho tela – to sa mi v živote nestalo. … Rozišli sme sa ... … čo keby som sa stal heterákom. Čo keby som zbalil tieto pipiny, tu idú nejaké. Teraz som po tom poslednom rozchode taký že mám averziu voči všetkým chlapom, teraz sa ani nestretám s rôznymi chlapmi, nič, to je jedno či je to heterák, či je teplý... Taká vnútorná averzia voči penisom, .... Je to brutálne, so mnou sa niečo tak zlomilo, že aké by to bolo keby som ja mal svoje vlastné dieťa, a som prvý krát začal rozmýšľať že keby to dieťa nebolo s mužom, že keby to jednoducho bolo dieťa, keby som ho mal so ženou -a žil so ženou. Možno že by to bolo také postúpenie do nejakého vyššieho levelu.”
- Richard P. Feynman (2010). Ralph Leighton:"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character 343. W. W. Norton & Company.
- Dean Bailey (2011). "13.My Testimony: Captured by Homosexual Sin, and then Rescued by Christ", Beyond the Shades of Gray: Because Homosexuality Is a Symptom, Not a Solution. WestBow Press, 102. ISBN 978-03933-39857.
- My Genes Made Me Do It! - Homosexuality and the scientific evidence..
- Novak, Kornelius et al. (2010). Kreuz & Quer in der Szene (in German). Lichtzeichen-Verlag, 110. ISBN 9783869540184.
- Fred Catherwood. Light, Salt and the world of business. International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. ISBN 978-1-899464-05-0.
- Robert R. Reilly. Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything. Ignatius Press, 91-. ISBN 978-1-58617-833-8.
- Oskar Skarsaune (2002). "12:Orthodoxy and Heresy", In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influence on Early Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 246. ISBN 978-0-8308-2844-9.
- Jozef Ondrej Markuš (2003). Mojžiš a Desatoro (in Slovak). Matica slovenská, 86. ISBN 978-807-096-9038. “Kto však nepozná svätého Boha, ten nemôže poznať ani seba samého.”
- Mark A.Yarhouse (2010). "2.Why is sexual identity the hearth of the matter?", Homosexuality and the Christian: Guide for parents, pastors, and friends. Bethany House, 40–1. ISBN 978-0-7642-0731-0. “Being attracted to someone and acting on those attractions are two separate things.”
- Svadba bez pretvárky, ale plná kontroverznosti! Róm s homosexuálnou minulosťou sa oženil s nerómkou, baptistkou! (Romany young lad with homosexual past has married non-romany babtist girl) (Slovak). markiza.sk (05. September 2012). Retrieved on August 6, 2013.
- Oslobodený z homosexuality - Príbeh Jozefa a Júlie Modré z Neba (Set free from homosexuality: The story of Jozef and Júlia) (Slovak). “nezabrániš vtákom aby leteli nad tvojou hlavou ale môžeš zabrániť aby si na nej spravili hniezdo”
- John Stott (1998). Same-Sex Partnerships? A Christian Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Co., 81. ISBN 978-08007-56741.
- Jessica Martinez (December 13, 2013). Former Gay Activist Marries Woman; Addresses Critics Who Condemn His New Heterosexual Lifestyle. CP U.S.. Retrieved on December 25, 2013.
- Dennis Jernigan (October 2017). Renewing your mind: Identity and the matter of choice. Innovo Publishing, 41. ISBN 978-1-61314-373-5.
- Larry Christenson (1970). The Christian Family. Betany House Publishers, 29–30.