Back To CourseAbnormal Psychology: Homework Help Resource
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In the early 20th century, behaviorism was on the rise. The behaviorist perspective held that behavior was the only observable phenomenon related to mental processes and therefore was the sole area with which psychology should concern itself. Behaviorists did not believe it was of any value to study thoughts, memory, emotion or any other non-objective process. Psychoanalysis developed at about the same time as behaviorism and held that observable phenomena were only the superficial manifestation of unconscious impulses. Psychoanalysts, such as Sigmund Freud, assumed that patients did not understand their own motivations, and so their therapeutic approach was to help their patients uncover the hidden urges that drove behavior.
In the 1950s, a group of psychologists began to develop a theoretical perspective very different from both behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Humanism arose as a reaction to these dominant forces in psychology but found its roots in classical and Renaissance philosophy that emphasized self-realization, that is, the ability of a human being to intentionally grow and develop psychologically, intellectually and ethically. The development of humanism was also bolstered by similar philosophical movements in Europe, such as developments in phenomenology and existentialism.
The foundation of humanistic psychology developed throughout the 1950s and early 1960s through a series of meetings and conferences with the leading figures of the movement. Psychologists, such as Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Clark Moustakas and Charlotte Buhler, were key players in laying out the fundamental principles of humanism. These psychologists developed a theoretical perspective that sought to honor the whole human being as conscious, intentional and capable of creating meaning in life. Again, this contrasted with behaviorism, which focused exclusively on behavior, and psychoanalysis, which did not believe that humans were completely aware of their own motivations.
The fundamental principles of humanism appeared in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology and can be summarized as follows:
Carl Rogers was very influential in the founding and promotion of humanism and is considered one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century. His influence is most felt in the development of his person-centered therapeutic techniques. This view of therapy insists that the client herself is in the best position to understand her previous experiences.
Rogers set out three conditions for creating a therapeutic environment that would best support a client's growth. The first condition is unconditional positive regard, which means that the therapist should affirm the client's worth as a human being and should never be judgmental or critical of the client. The second is empathic understanding - the ability of the therapist to understand the client's experience, emotions and thoughts from the client's perspective instead of from a predetermined theoretical perspective. The third condition is congruence and refers to the authenticity of the therapist. Rogers believed that the therapist should not be aloof or attempt to hide his true personality but instead should be open to the client in a genuine manner. In Rogers' view, these three core conditions were sufficient for creating an atmosphere of trust and understanding, and that in such an atmosphere, the client would experience therapeutic change.
Abraham Maslow, another influential humanist psychologist, is best known today for his definition of self-actualization and his development of a hierarchy of needs. Maslow did not believe that psychology should be solely focused on mental illness; instead, he insisted on studying healthy individuals. To form his theories, Maslow studied the biographies and writings of people that he believed exemplified self-actualization, including Albert Einstein and Henry David Thoreau, in addition to some of Maslow's own personal acquaintances. From these studies, he defined self-actualization as the desire and motivation to reach one's personal potential. Qualities that he believed were common among all self-actualizers include spontaneity, an ability to form deep interpersonal bonds, autonomy, acceptance of oneself and others, and a determination to pursue goals outside of oneself. According to Maslow, self-actualizers also have frequent peak experiences, during which they have a temporary feeling of ecstasy, harmony and connection with themselves and their environments.
Maslow believed that fewer than 1% of the population would experience self-actualization, partially because, in his view, it is necessary to first fulfill the lower needs in his hierarchy of needs before reaching such a lofty goal as self-actualization. The first level in his hierarchy is physiological and includes basic needs such as food and water. The second level is safety and includes health and security of resources, employment and the safety of one's family. The third level is concerned with love and social belonging - the establishment of close ties with family, friends and a sexual partner. Self-esteem, achievement and confidence are addressed at the fourth level. Self-actualization is the fifth and final level that one can aspire to and includes creativity, spontaneity, acceptance, and problem solving.
Objectively measuring ideas such as self-actualization has proven difficult. While Maslow and Rogers attempted to accurately test and prove their theories, humanistic psychology has often been criticized for being unverifiable, meaning that there may be no way to prove or disprove such subjective ideas.
Despite this criticism, humanistic psychology is generally regarded as having succeeded in assigning more control to the individual and recognizing the impact environment has on our behavior. Its influence can be seen today across many types of therapy and is particularly visible in the developments of transpersonal psychology, which seeks to integrate spirituality and psychology, and positive psychology, which focuses on the psychology of happiness and helping people develop productive and fulfilling lives.
All right, let's review. Humanism is a psychological movement that focuses on the whole human and human experiences. It's rooted in the classical and Renaissance philosophy that emphasized self-realization, the ability of a human being to intentionally grow and develop psychologically, intellectually, and ethically. The fundamental principles of humanism include:
Key players in the development of humanism were Carl Rogers with his person-centered therapeutic techniques, which stated a client herself is in the best position to understand her previous experiences, and Abraham Maslow, with his definition of self-actualization, desire and motivation to reach one's personal potential, and hierarchy of needs. This area of psychology is often criticized for being unverifiable, but has led to several current types of psychology, like transpersonal psychology and positive psychology.
Humanistic psychology developed as a result of not simply focusing on observable behavior, but rather the entire thought process of the human mind and surrounding environment. This psychological movement brings human beings into a different level of existence, promoting awareness, value and meaning in life.
After reviewing this video, you should be able to discuss the origins of humanistic psychology and distinguish it from other related fields of psychology.
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Back To CourseAbnormal Psychology: Homework Help Resource
26 chapters | 309 lessons