Humanistic Psychology

Humanistic Psychology Basis Humanistic Psychology is so named due to its core belief in the basic goodness present in and respect for humanity. Its core is founded upon existential psychology, or the realization and understanding of one’s existence and social responsibility. The two psychologists, Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow initiated the movement with this new perspective on understanding people’s personality and improving their overall life satisfaction. When war broke out in the 1960s, the world felt compelled to better understand the nature of humanity.

Humanistic theory provides an understandable mechanism for examining an individual’s need for conflict in order to create peace. This simplistic theory has become a favorite and popular topic throughout self-help literature. Additionally, the struggle for mankind to gain greater understanding and meaning for life and existence is a timeless cornerstone conflict in entertainment and literature. The premise behind humanistic psychology is simple. So simple, in fact, that naysayers believe it to be excessively simple. Humanists adhere to these beliefs: 1. The present is the most signficant aspect of someone.

As a results humanists emphasize the here and now instead of examining the past or attempting to predict the future. 2. To be mentally healthy, individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions, regardless if those actions are positive or negative. 3. Each person, simply by being, is inherently worthy. While any given action may be negative, these actions do not cancel out their value as a person. 4. The ultimate goal of living is to attain personal growth and understanding. Through constant self-improvement and self-understanding can an individual ever be truly happy.

Abraham Maslow provided the best known and mostly widely understood precept in humanistic psychology. Abraham Maslow believed that Watson and the other behaviorists’ ideas about control were lacking. He saw human life as more than simply external reinforcement, disputing the assumption that humanity was born without value or direction. When he was studying psychology, the prevalent ideas were psychoanalysis and behaviorism. These theories were covered by most courses and a great deal of energy was used for each psychologist to identify the theory aspiring psychologists would subscribe to.

Maslow did not follow either of these paths. He condemned behaviorism, eventually taking the same perspective with Freud’s works as well. Even though Maslow accepted the existence of an unconscious being within us, Maslow refuted Freud’s idea that the bulk of our being is hidden far from our consciousness. Maslow purported that humanity is aware of motivation and drives on the whole. Without life’s obstacles, all of humanity would become healthy psychologically, attaining a deep self-understanding and acceptance of society and the world around them.

Maslow reinforced his energy on realizing the positive aspects of mankind, while Freud saw mostly negativity. One might summarize the distinction between humanism and psychoanalytic thought in this way – psychoanalysis is founded upon acceptance determinism, or acceptance of aspects of our lives outside of control, while humanistic thought bases itself on the concept of free will. Maslow’s best known contribution to Humanistic psychology is his Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy is frequently used to sum up the humanistic psychology belief system. The fundamental premise of his hierarchy is that everyone is born with specific needs.

If we do not meet those base needs, we are unable to survive and focus upward within the hierarchy. The first stratum consists of ;b;physiological needs;/b;, or survival needs. Unable to obtain oxygen, sleep, water, and food, all else is irrelevant. After we meet these needs, we can shift our focus to the next stratum, the need for security and safety. When pursuing safety needs, we attempt to secure safety in others and yearn to create an environment that protects us, keeping us free from harm. Until these goals are met, it is unlikely that someone would consider higher order needs, and their growth is then stifled.

When someone feels safe and secure, we attempt to build friendships and establish a sense of belonging to a greater whole. Maslow’s third level of needs, the social needs of belonging and love, focus on our desire to be belong to a group and have a place in a larger whole. Meeting social needs get us one step closer to the top of the triangle — the fourth level: esteem needs. Those attempting to fulfill esteem needs channel their energy on respect from others, self-esteem, self-respect, and gaining recognition for our accomplishments in life.

We push further and further to excel in our careers, to expand our knowledge, and to constantly increase our self-esteem. The final level in the hierarchy is called the need for self-actualization. According to Maslow, many people may be in this level but very few, if anybody, ever masters it. Self-actualization refers to a complete understanding of the self. To be self-actualized means to truly know who you are, where you belong in the greater society, and to feel like you are accomplishing all that you are meant to be.

It means to no longer feel shame or guilt, or even hate, but to accept the world and see human nature as inherently good. Against Scientific Basics At its onset, Humanistic theory was not researched easily. To start with, since the fundamental belief of Humanism is in the goodness of people, treatment should focus on the positive, instead of negative. This leaves very few tests upon which to build the case of Humanism. Then, through assessment, the assessor is essentially trying to say that the tester knows more about the client’s emotion, thought, and behavior.

To do something so presumptuous is a flagrant contradiction of the belief principles of Humanism. As a result, most theorists, specifically behaviorists, refuted humanistic theory since it was not easily researched. However, as with psychoanalysis, it was possible to aggregate meaningful data on the effectiveness of applying Humanistic theories. Actually, just as with psychoanalysis, innovative testing needed to be designed to accentuate the exact theory and the intended application of the theory. Psychoanalysis use tests like TAT and Rorschach — humanists use the Q-Sort.

Humanistic Theory – Weaknesses and Strengths Humanistic Theory Strengths Just as with every theory, some find humanistic psychology to be relevant, as others can only see the flaws. A couple of humanistic theory’s strengths are the focus on the positivitity and goodness of humanity, as well as the free will related to change. Contrasting Freud’s and biological approaches, focusing on the belief that human behavior and cognition are causally determined by prior events and actions, such that we lack self-control, Maslow and Humanistic psychology believe that the individual is quite powerful.

Another strength of humanistic theory is how easily many aspects of the theory integrate with other schools of thought. A number of therapists adopt humanistic undertones when working with their clients. While the individual may believe that humanistic theory doesn’t cover the distance, they understand the benefit of the core values and beliefs in changing people’s lives for the better. Ultimately, humanism has benefits which carry over into a number of other professions. In a business class, you will probably cover Maslow’s hierarchy.

When studying finance or economics, the course will no doubt cover the concept of moving up financially and physically, to eventually become more enlightened and aware of who we are and our place in the world. This principle is similarly present in other professions such as criminology, history, and literature, since the core of humanistic thought rings true in everything that deals with what it means to be considered human. Humanistic Theory Weaknesses For every yin, there is also the yang. Humanistic theory has its share of flaws as well.

The most significant criticism of humanistic psychology centers around its lack of specific approaches to treatment aimed at precise problems. Since the core belief behind Humanistic theory is that of free will, it is very complicated to both innovate a technique for treatment as well as a means to study the efficacy of this treatment technique. Additionally, it is believed that humanistic theory falls is unable to help people with severe personality or mental health disorders. While Carl Rogers’ Theory of Personality may have positive effects on a minor abberation, using it as treatment for schizophrenics is laughable.

Lastly, humanistic theory applies some human nature generalizations which are widely believed to be complete. Are all people good at the core of their being, or are some people just not there? Can we effectively position that Maslow’s needs hierarchy, as explained, applies to everyone universally? Or is it possible that each individual can impose their own belief system or their order of attainment, or even their very definition? Why is it that some individuals appear to consciously take negative alternatives while positive choices are right in front of them?

These doubts huant humanistic psychology and the complexity associated with performing measurable research of the theory further exacerbates the issue. However, regardless of these trials, humanistic theory is incorporated into nearly every opposing school of psychotherapy and improvement of the human condition. It is widely believed that treatment with humanistic undertones creates a nice environment for positive change. While, alone, humanistic theory may be insufficient, the groundwork it lays might be a necessity for to effect significant changes of personality.

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