Albert Ellis, Ph.D and Martin E.P. Seligman Ph.D, are two of many well-known famous American Psychologist. They both became well known in the Psychology world due to their research and finding theories. Ellis and Seligman became lectures in Psychology, as well as award winning writers for what each individual believed between emotional, happiness and in how it was generated. Albert however brings to the table an "olden day" theory believing that "People are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.

"- Albert Ellis. As Martin brings forward a newer method in psychology based on "The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe that bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks of this world, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe that defeat is just a temporary setback or a challenge, that its causes are just confined to this one case.

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" - Martin Seligman, Learned Optimism, 1991.

Albert Ellis, Ph.D was born September 23, 1913 in Pittsburgh, PA; his psychological fields of studies was Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. As a child, Albert suffered from a bad childhood sickness that affected his health. He was often hospitalized various times due to kidney disease related situations and tonsillitis. Despite all of the hospitalization that Albert experienced as a young child, his parents barely showed him any emotional support, nor did they visited him frequently while he was admitted.

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He was not an outgoing child, he was super shy around girls, and feared public speaking during his adolescence years. It was not until he was nineteen years of age that he came up with the thought process similar to a cognitive behavior therapist. This strategy transpired when he forced himself in speaking with one-hundred women in the Bronx. However, this scenario, was unsuccessful for Albert as he was unable in getting a date with any of them. Ellis ideas where often ignored due to his open behavior and many times he was considered to be crazy. With his life experiences, he analyzed the nature and emotional behavior during childhood difficulty and believed that traumatic events subconsciously influence our behavior into our adulthood.

Ellis graduated with a business bachelor's degree in 1934; he tried the business career as well as a writer. He started with publishing fiction books but when that did not go well, he turned over and began writing nonfiction on human sexuality. In 1942 he decided to go back to school in the Teachers Collage at Columbia University to obtain his Ph.D. in clinical Psychology. While attending collage for his Ph.D. in Psychology, Albert published several articles harshly critical of popular personality tests; as he argued that only scientifically validation was Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). During this time, Ellis also studies the Sigmund Freud's theories and was a strong advocate of psychoanalysis.

In 1955, Albert developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), which is currently known as cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT), a combination that is used with the ABC Model which he also created. REBT "challenged the deliberate, slow-moving methodology of Sigmund Freud"; the psychotherapeutic treatment in the 1950s. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy follows three important guided principles, knowns as the ABCs: activating events, beliefs and consequences. However the ABC model can also be referred as the ABCDE Model where the D stands for disputation of belief and the E stands for the new effect. CBT is a form of "short-term" behavior treatment that reveals the connection between the individuals believes, thoughts and feeling. It works when the individual perceives life events and how they will react to it but it is not the events that occur to the person which will determine his/her actions or feelings. Ellis treatment is based to help patients who may be suffering from anxiety, depression or any other conditions.

Martin E.P Seligman, Ph.D was born on August 12th, 1942 in Albany New York. Seligman is generally known is psychology as "father of Positive Psychology", his fields include resilience, learned helplessness, depression, optimism and pessimism. In his early career, he attended public school, graduated from high school and joined Princeton University where in 1964, he received his bachelor's degree in philosophy. In 1967, he earned his Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania, where he then served as the director of a clinical training program for fourteen years. Martin is currently a lead educator, continues to be a research, and writer.

Seligman's Positive Psychology takes a turn in how psychology was approached decades ago. Psychology was based on the individuals past and present determining a person's future. Sixty years ago psychology was known as "good", none of the disorders then where curable, but now 14 disorders are treatable. The science of mental illness was to "create a classification for the mental illness". By classifying reliable disorders (examples: depression and alcohol), measuring fuzzy concepts, inventing treatment (placebos and no placebos) a conclusion to making a person feel less miserable. What was "not good" about this theory is psychologist did not realize the cost of the disease model. Psychologists often became victimologists, pathologizers, overlooked on how to improve normal lives, and most importantly they never did positive intervention.

Martin believes psychologists should start evaluating the way human beans conceives and imagine the future; memory (past), perception and motivation (present) is "NOT TRUE". Seligman's Positive Psychology, is as concerned with strengths as it is with weakness, and interested in building the best things in life as in repairing for the worst. With this concept, he considers that while making the lives of normal people fulfilling and with nurturing high talent can be a part of a person's happiness. Seligman's research does defines that happiness is not always the end goal for someone, but it is also not the most realistic one. However he also references that there is three different types of "happy lives" a human bean can define with. The pleasant life, the good life, and the meaningful life. The pleasant life includes a person having as much pleasure as he/she can and having the skills to amplify them. Secondly, the good life is engaging between work, love, and play; someone who identifies signature strengths, pleasures vs flow. Lastly, the meaningful life indicates knowing the individuals signature strengths and positive institutions. Over all Martin Seligman reveals that the action of happiness comes within the individual themselves.

During his research and while working with soldiers, Martin created the PERMA Model. This model is designed to be used as a template to explore the human functioning and happiness with five main crucial lasting features. The overall meaning of PERMA stands for P-positive emotion, E-engagement, R-relationships, M- meaning, A-accomplishments. The strategic idea behind this model is that it works by creating a fulfillment for anyone who was seeking balance in life. As president of the American Psychological Association, Martin E.P Seligman's primary focus has continued to be Positive Psychology.

In conclusion, Albert and Martin have impacted psychology in their own unique way. By creating helpful methods to guide psychologist in treating individuals that may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or childhood emotional behaviors. Albert Ellis who died at the age of 93 on July 24th 2007, main theory, is one that has been around for decades with his believes that "people are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things". Martin Seligman on the other hand has a newer theory, one that is still being assessed because it is newly to our generation, and the way psychology is changing. With Positive Psychology being a new discovery, Seligman continues to expand and research and believes that the three keys to happiness is defined as the pleasant life, the good life, and the meaningful life. Martin continues his career as an author that has written over 20 self-help books and over 250 articles about what makes life worth living.

Updated: May 19, 2021
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Famous American Psychologist. (2019, Dec 01). Retrieved from

Famous American Psychologist essay
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