PersonalityAn individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting. Each dwarf has a distinct personality.
PersonalityThere are many ways that theorists have defined human nature throughout the centuries. That is what we are about to explore. But first let’s explore how you define your own human nature.Personality theorists are in the unique position of studying the entire person. They have the monumental task of synthesizing the best information from the diverse fields of the discipline into a coherent, holistic configuration. In the course of their work, personality theorists address fundamental issues of human nature and individual differences. 4
PersonalityA theorist’s answers to the following basic questions define his or her image of human nature:1. Free will or determinism? Do we have a conscious awareness and control of ourselves? Are we free to choose, to be masters of our fate, or are we victims of biological factors, unconscious forces, or external stimuli?2. Nature or nurture? Is our personality determined primarily by the abilities, temperaments, or predispositions we inherit, or are we shaped more strongly by the environments in which we live? 5
Personality3. Past, present, or future? Is personality development basically complete in early childhood? Or is personality independent of the past, capable of being influenced by events and experiences in the present and even by future aspirations and goals?4. Uniqueness or universality? Is the personality of each individual unique or are there broad personality patterns that fit large numbers of persons? 6
Personality5. Equilibrium or growth? Are we primarily tension reducing, pleasure-seeking animals or are we motivated primarily by the need to grow, to reach our full potential to reach for ever-higher levels of self expression and development?6. Optimism or pessimism? Are human beings basically good or evil? Are we kind and compassionate, or cruel and merciless?Which one are you in more agreement with? 7
Psychoanalytic PerspectiveIn his clinical practice, Freud encounteredpatients suffering from nervous disorders. Their complaintscould not be explained in terms of purely physical causes. Culver Pictures Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Psychodynamic Perspective Freud’s clinicalexperience led him to develop the firstcomprehensive theory of personality, which included the unconscious mind, psychosexual stages, Culver Pictures and defense mechanisms. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Sigmund Freud• unconscious mind – according to Freud, a reservoir of mostly unacceptable thoughts, wishes, feelings and memories. According to contemporary psychologists, it is information processing of which we are unaware.• psychosexual stages – the childhood stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital) during which, the id’s pleasure seeking energies focus on distinct erogenous zones.• defense mechanisms – Freud proposed that the ego defends itself with defense mechanisms, tactics that reduce or redirect anxiety by distorting reality (i.e. repression, regression, reaction formation, projection, rationalization, and displacement). 10
Exploring the Unconscious A reservoir (unconscious mind) of mostly unacceptable thoughts, wishes, feelings, andmemories. Freud asked patients to say whatevercame to their minds (free association) in order to tap the unconscious. http://www.english.upenn.edu
Dream AnalysisAnother method to analyze the unconscious mind is through interpreting manifest and latent contents of dreams. The Nightmare, Henry Fuseli (1791)
Dream AnalysisFreud viewed jokes as expressions of repressed sexual and aggressive tendencies, and dreams as the “royal road to the unconscious.”The remembered content of dreams (their manifest content) he believed to be a censored expression of the dreamer’s unconscious wishes (the dream’s latent content).In his analysis of dreams, Freud searched for the nature of patients’ inner conflicts and their release from inner tensions. 13
Psychoanalysis The process of free association (chain of thoughts) leads to painful, embarrassingunconscious memories. Once these memories are retrieved and released (treatment: psychoanalysis) the patient feels better.
Model of MindThe mind is like an iceberg. It is mostly hidden, and below the surface lies the unconscious mind. The preconscious stores temporary memories.
Personality Structure Personality develops as a result of our efforts toresolve conflicts between our biological impulses (id) and social restraints (superego).
Id, Ego and Superego The Id unconsciously strives to satisfy basicsexual and aggressive drives, operating on the pleasure principle, demanding immediate gratification. The ego functions as the “executive” andmediates the demands of the id and superego.The superego provides standards for judgment (the conscience) and for future aspirations.
Personality Development Freud believed that personality formed during the first few years of life divided into psychosexual stages. During these stages theid’s pleasure-seeking energies focus on pleasure sensitive body areas called erogenous zones.
Psychosexual StagesFreud divided the development of personality into five psychosexual stages.
Oral StageDuring the oral stage, the infants primary source of interaction occurs through the mouth, so the rooting and sucking reflex is especially important. The mouth is vital for eating, and the infant derives pleasure from oral stimulation through gratifying activities such as tasting and sucking. Because the infant is entirely dependent upon caretakers (who are responsible for feeding the child), the infant also develops a sense of trust and comfort through this oral stimulation. The primary conflict at this stage is the weaning process--the child must become less dependent upon caretakers. If fixation occurs at this stage, Freud believed the individual would have issues with dependency or aggression. Oral fixation can result in problems with drinking, eating, smoking, or nail biting.
Anal StageDuring the anal stage, Freud believed that the primary focus of the libido was on controlling bladder and bowel movements. The major conflict at this stage is toilet training--the child has to learn to control his or her bodily needs. Developing this control leads to a sense of accomplishment and independence. According to Freud, success at this stage is dependent upon the way in which parents approach toilet training. Parents who utilize praise and rewards for using the toilet at the appropriate time encourage positive outcomes and help children feel capable and productive. Freud believed that positive experiences during this stage served as the basis for people to become competent, productive, and creative adults. However, not all parents provide the support and encouragement that children need during this stage. Some parents instead punish, ridicule, or shame a child for accidents. According to Freud, inappropriate parental responses can result in negative outcomes. If parents take an approach that is too lenient, Freud suggested that an anal-expulsive personality could develop in which the individual has a messy, wasteful, or destructive personality. If parents are too strict or begin toilet training too early, Freud believed that an anal-retentive personality develops in which the individual is stringent, orderly, rigid, and obsessive.
Phallic StageDuring the phallic stage, the primary focus of the libido is on the genitals. Children also discover the differences between males and females. Freud also believed that boys begin to view their fathers as a rival for the mother’s affections. The Oedipus Complex describes these feelings of wanting to possess the mother and the desire to replace the father. However, the child also fears that he will be punished by the father for these feelings, a fear Freud termed castration anxiety. The term Electra Complex has been used to described a similar set of feelings experienced by young girls. Freud, however, believed that girls instead experience penis envy. Eventually, the child realizes begins to identify with the same-sex parent as a means of vicariously possessing the other parent. For girls, however, Freud believed that penis envy was never fully resolved and that all women remain somewhat fixated on this stage. Psychologists such as Karen Horney disputed this theory, calling it both inaccurate and demeaning to women. Instead, Horney proposed that men experience feelings of inferiority because they cannot give birth to children.
Latent StageDuring the latent period, the libido interests are suppressed. The development of the ego and superego contribute to this period of calm. The stage begins around the time that children enter into school and become more concerned with peer relationships, hobbies, and other interests. The latent period is a time of exploration in which the sexual energy is still present, but it is directed into other areas such as intellectual pursuits and social interactions. This stage is important in the development of social and communication skills and self-confidence.
Genital StageDuring the final stage of psychosexual development, the individual develops a strong sexual interest in the opposite sex. Where in earlier stages the focus was solely on individual needs, interest in the welfare of others grows during this stage. If the other stages have been completed successfully, the individual should now be well-balanced, warm, and caring. The goal of this stage is to establish a balance between the various life areas.
Identification Children cope withthreatening feelings by repressing them andby identifying with the From the K. Vandervelde private collection rival parent. Through this process of identification, their superego gains strength that incorporates their parents’ values.
Personality Development: IdentificationFreud believed that identification with the same- sex parent provides what psychologists now call our gender identity—our sense of being male or female.Freud presumed that our early childhood relations with parents, caregivers, and everything else influences our developing identity, personality, and frailties.
Personality Development: Fixation…is, according to Freud, a lingering focus of pleasure-seeking energies at an earlier psychosexual stage, in which conflicts were unresolved.Ex: A person was either orally deprived or overly indulged may fixate at the oral stage.
Evaluating Freud’s Psychosexual Stages Theory• The theory is focused almost entirely on male development with little mention of female psychosexual development.• His theories are difficult to test scientifically. Concepts such as the libido are impossible to measure, and therefore cannot be tested. The research that has been conducted tends to discredit Freuds theory.• Future predictions are too vague. How can we know that a current behavior was caused specifically by a childhood experience? The length of time between the cause and the effect is too long to assume that there is a relationship between the two variables.• Freuds theory is based upon case studies and not empirical research. Also, Freud based his theory on the recollections of his adult patients, not on actual observation and study of children.
Defense against AnxietyAccording to Freud, anxiety is the price we pay for civilization. As members of social groups, we must control our sexual and aggressive impulses, not act them out. Sometimes the ego fears losing control between the demands of the id and the superego. This can result in anxiety.
Defense Mechanisms The ego’s protective methods of reducing anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality.1. Repression banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness.2. Regression leads an individual faced with anxiety to retreat to a more infantile psychosexual stage. 30
Defense Mechanisms3. Reaction Formation causes the ego to unconsciously switch unacceptable impulses into their opposites. People may express feelings of purity when they may be suffering anxiety from unconscious feelings about sex.4. Projection leads people to disguise their own threatening impulses by attributing them to others. 31
Defense Mechanisms5. Rationalization offers self-justifying explanations in place of the real, more threatening, unconscious reasons for one’s actions.6. Displacement shifts sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or person, redirecting anger toward a safer outlet. 32
Issues in PersonalityIndicate the extent to which you agree with each of the following statements using the following response scale. Place the appropriate number in the blank before each item. 1 = strongly disagree 2 = disagree 3 = neutral 4 = agree 5 = strongly agree1. Events that occurred during childhood have no effect on one’s personality in adulthood.2. Sexual adjustment is easy for most people.3. Culture and society have evolved as ways to curb human beings’ natural aggressiveness.4. Little boys should not become too attached to their mothers.5. It is possible to deliberately “forget” something too painful to remember.6. People who chronically smoke, eat, or chew gum have some deep psychological problems.7. Competitive people are no more aggressive than noncompetitive people.8. Fathers should remain somewhat aloof to their daughters.9. Toilet training is natural and not traumatic for most children.10. The phallus is a symbol of power.11. A man who dates a woman old enough to be his mother has problems.12. There are some women who are best described as being “castrating bitches.”13. Dreams merely replay events that occurred during the day and have no deep meaning.14. There is something wrong with a woman who dates a man who is old enough to be her father.15. A student who wants to postpone an exam by saying “My grandmother lied . . . er, I mean died,” should probably be allowed the postponement.Source: Reprinted by permission of Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., and the author from Miserandino, M. (1994). Freudian principles in everyday life. Teaching of Psychology, 21, 93–95.
The statements are worded so that a Freudian psychologist would strongly agree with 9 and disagree with 6 of them. In scoring their own responses, students should first reverse the numbers they placed in front of statements 1, 2, 7, 9, 13, and 15. Then, to obtain a total score, they should add the numbers in front of all 15 statements. Scores can range from 15 to 75, with higher scores reflecting greater agreement with a Freudian perspective.
Questions to PonderHow did you come to accept or reject these statements?What kinds of evidence should be used to evaluate the truth or falsehood of the statements?Were some of the statements true in the past but not today?Would people from other cultures respond to these statements differently?Do responses indicate a double standard of acceptable behavior for men and women on questions about fathers and daughters (statement 8) versus mothers and sons (statement 4) or of dating an older person (statements 11 and 14)?Finally, can you identify the Freudian concepts and reasoning behind the statements?
Basic Tenets of Freud’s Theory: How they relate to the surveyFreud argued that humans are driven by life instincts (for example, sex) and by death instincts (for example, aggression).If either anxiety or social constraints prevent direct expression of these drives, they will be expressed indirectly or unconsciously. Freud maintained that the aggressive drive is often sublimated [to divert the expression of (an instinctual desire or impulse) from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable] into competition and achievement.Dreams and Freudian slips provide two ways of studying unconscious wishes or impulses.
Basic Tenets of Freud’s Theory: How they relate to the surveyIndividuals pass through a series of psychosexual stages during which id impulses of a sexual nature find a socially acceptable outlet.Unresolved conflicts between id impulses and social restrictions during childhood continue to influence one’s personality in adulthood.People who smoke, overeat, or chew gum presumably have had trouble with feeding and weaning early in the oral stage.
Basic Tenets of Freud’s Theory: How they relate to the surveyProblems with toilet training during the anal stage may lead to the development of anal-expulsive or anal-retentive personalities in adulthood.Problems during the genital stage may be expressed in an Oedipus complex and castration anxiety in men and in an Electra complex and penis envy in women. Because of penis envy, women fixated at this stage symbolically castrate men through embarrassment, deception, and derogation.
The Neo-Freudians Like Freud, Adler believed in childhoodtensions. However, these tensions were social innature and not sexual. A child struggles with an National Library of Medicine inferiority complex during growth and strives for superiority and power. Alfred Adler (1870-1937) 39
The Neo-Freudians Like Adler, Horneybelieved in the socialaspects of childhood growth and development. She countered Freud’s The Bettmann Archive/ Corbis assumption that women have weaksuperegos and suffer from “penis envy.” Karen Horney (1885-1952) 40
The Neo-Freudians Jung believed in the Archive of the History of American Psychology/ University of Akron collective unconscious, which contained a common reservoir ofimages derived from ourspecies’ past. This is why many cultures sharecertain myths and imagessuch as the mother being a symbol of nurturance. Carl Jung (1875-1961) 41
Assessing Unconscious Processes Evaluating personality from an unconscious mind’s perspective would require apsychological instrument (projective tests) that would reveal the hidden unconscious mind. 42
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) Developed by Henry Murray, the TAT is a projective test in which people express their innerfeelings and interests through the stories they make up about ambiguous scenes. Lew Merrim/ Photo Researcher, Inc. 43
Rorschach Inkblot Test The most widely used projective test uses a set of 10 inkblots and was designed by Hermann Rorschach. It seeks to identify people’s innerfeelings by analyzing their interpretations of the blots. Lew Merrim/ Photo Researcher, Inc. 44
Projective Tests: Criticisms Critics argue that projective tests lack both reliability (consistency of results) and validity (predicting what it is supposed to).1. When evaluating the same patient, even trained raters come up with different interpretations (reliability).2. Projective tests may misdiagnose a normal individual as pathological (validity). 45
Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Perspective Modern Research1. Personality develops throughout life and is not fixed in childhood.2. Freud underemphasized peer influence on the individual, which may be as powerful as parental influence.3. Gender identity may develop before 5-6 years of age. 46
Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Perspective Modern Research There may be other reasons for dreams besides wish fulfillment. Verbal slips can be explained on the basis of cognitive processing of verbal choices. Suppressed sexuality leads to psychological disorders. Sexual inhibition has decreased, but psychological disorders have not. 47
Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Perspective Freuds psychoanalytic theory rests on the repression of painful experiences into the unconscious mind.The majority of children, death camp survivors, and battle-scarred veterans are unable to repress painful experiences into their unconscious mind. 48
The Modern Unconscious Mind Modern research shows the existence of non- conscious information processing. This involves:1. schemas that automatically control perceptions and interpretations2. the right-hemisphere activity that enables the split-brain patient’s left hand to carry out an instruction the patient cannot verbalize3. parallel processing during vision and thinking4. implicit memories5. emotions that activate instantly without consciousness6. self-concept and stereotypes that unconsciously influence us 49
Assessing Unconscious Processes Evaluating personality from an unconscious mind’s perspective would require apsychological instrument (projective tests) that would reveal the hidden unconscious mind.
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) Developed by Henry Murray, the TAT is a projective test in which people express their innerfeelings and interests through the stories they make up about ambiguous scenes. Lew Merrim/ Photo Researcher, Inc.
Rorschach Inkblot Test The most widely used projective test uses a set of 10 inkblots and was designed by Hermann Rorschach. It seeks to identify people’s innerfeelings by analyzing their interpretations of the blots. Lew Merrim/ Photo Researcher, Inc.
Projective Tests: Criticisms Critics argue that projective tests lack both reliability (consistency of results) and validity (predicting what it is supposed to).1. When evaluating the same patient, even trained raters come up with different interpretations (reliability).2. Projective tests may misdiagnose a normal individual as pathological (validity).
Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Perspective Modern Research1. Personality develops throughout life and is not fixed in childhood.2. Freud underemphasized peer influence on the individual, which may be as powerful as parental influence.3. Gender identity may develop before 5-6 years of age.
Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Perspective Modern Research There may be other reasons for dreams besides wish fulfillment. Verbal slips can be explained on the basis of cognitive processing of verbal choices. Suppressed sexuality leads to psychological disorders. Sexual inhibition has decreased, but psychological disorders have not.
Evaluating the Psychoanalytic Perspective Freuds psychoanalytic theory rests on the repression of painful experiences into the unconscious mind.The majority of children, death camp survivors, and battle-scarred veterans are unable to repress painful experiences into their unconscious mind.
The Modern Unconscious Mind Modern research shows the existence of non- conscious information processing. This involves:1. schemas that automatically control perceptions and interpretations2. the right-hemisphere activity that enables the split-brain patient’s left hand to carry out an instruction the patient cannot verbalize3. parallel processing during vision and thinking4. implicit memories5. emotions that activate instantly without consciousness6. self-concept and stereotypes that unconsciously influence us
Humanistic PerspectiveBy the 1960s, psychologists became discontent with Freud’s negativity and the mechanistic psychology of the behaviorists. http://www.ship.edu Abraham Maslow Carl Rogers (1908-1970) (1902-1987)
Self-Actualizing PersonMaslow proposed that we as individuals aremotivated by a hierarchy of needs. Beginningwith physiological needs, we try to reach the state of self-actualization—fulfilling our potential. Ted Polumbaum/ Time Pix/ Getty Images http://www.ship.edu
• The lowest levels of the pyramid are made up of the most basic needs, while the more complex needs are located at the top of the pyramid. Needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic physical requirements including the need for food, water, sleep and warmth. Once these lower-level needs have been met, people can move on to the next level of needs, which are for safety and security.• As people progress up the pyramid, needs become increasingly psychological and social. Soon, the need for love, friendship and intimacy become important. Further up the pyramid, the need for personal esteem and feelings of accomplishment take priority. Like Carl Rogers, Maslow emphasized the importance of self- actualization, which is a process of growing and developing as a person to achieve individual potential.
Types of Needs• Maslow believed that these needs are similar to instincts and play a major role in motivating behavior. Physiological, security, social, and esteem needs are deficiency needs (also known as D-needs), meaning that these needs arise due to deprivation. Satisfying these lower-level needs is important in order to avoid unpleasant feelings or consequences.• Maslow termed the highest-level of the pyramid as growth need (also known as being needs or B-needs). Growth needs do not stem from a lack of something, but rather from a desire to grow as a person.
5 Levels of Needs• Physiological Needs These include the most basic needs that are vital to survival, such as the need for water, air, food and sleep. Maslow believed that these needs are the most basic and instinctive needs in the hierarchy because all needs become secondary until these physiological needs are met.• Security Needs These include needs for safety and security. Security needs are important for survival, but they are not as demanding as the physiological needs. Examples of security needs include a desire for steady employment, health insurance, safe neighborhoods and shelter from the environment.• Social Needs These include needs for belonging, love and affection. Maslow considered these needs to be less basic than physiological and security needs. Relationships such as friendships, romantic attachments and families help fulfill this need for companionship and acceptance, as does involvement in social, community or religious groups.• Esteem Needs After the first three needs have been satisfied, esteem needs becomes increasingly important. These include the need for things that reflect on self-esteem, personal worth, social recognition and accomplishment.• Self-actualizing Needs This is the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Self-actualizing people are self- aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others and interested fulfilling their potential.
Characteristics of Self Actualized People• Acceptance and Realism: Self-actualized people have realistic perceptions of themselves, others and the world around them.• Problem-centering: Self-actualized individuals are concerned with solving problems outside of themselves, including helping others and finding solutions to problems in the external world. These people are often motivated by a sense of personal responsibility and ethics.• Spontaneity: Self-actualized people are spontaneous in their internal thoughts and outward behavior. While they can conform to rules and social expectations, they also tend to be open and unconventional.• Autonomy and Solitude: Another characteristics of self-actualized people is the need for independence and privacy. While they enjoy the company of others, these individuals need time to focus on developing their own individual potential.• Continued Freshness of Appreciation: Self-actualized people tend to view the world with a continual sense of appreciation, wonder and awe. Even simple experiences continue to be a source of inspiration and pleasure.• Peak Experiences: Individuals who are self-actualized often have what Maslow termed peak experiences, or moments of intense joy, wonder, awe and ecstasy. After these experiences, people feel inspired, strengthened, renewed or transformed.
Maslow (1954), believed that man has a natural drive to healthiness, or self actualization. He believed that man has basic, (biological and psychological) needs that have to be fulfilled in order to be free enough to feel the desire for the higher levels of realization. He also believed that the organism has the natural, unconscious and innate capacity to seek its needs. (Maslow 1968)In other words, man has an internal, natural, drive to become the best possible person he can be."...he has within him a pressure toward unity of personality, toward spontaneous expressiveness, toward full individuality and identity, toward seeing the truth rather than being blind, toward being creative, toward being good, and a lot else. That is, the human being is so constructed that he presses toward what most people would call good values, toward serenity, kindness, courage, honesty, love, unselfishness, and goodness." (Maslow, 1968, p. 155.)Maslow believed that not only does the organism know what it needs to eat to maintain itself healthy, but also man knows intuitively what he needs to become the best possible, mentally healthy and happy "being". I use the word "being" because Maslow goes far beyond what the average person considers good physical and mental health. He talked about higher consciousness, esthetic and peak experiences, and Being. He stressed the importance of moral and ethical behavior that will lead man naturally to discovering, becoming himself.
"The state of being without a system of values is psychopathogenic, we are learning. The human being needs a framework of values, a philosophy of life, a religion or religion-surrogate to live by and understand by, in about the same sense he needs sunlight, calcium or love. This I have called the "cognitive need to understand." The value- illnesses which result from valuelessness are called variously anhedonia, anomie, apathy, amorality, hopelessness, cynicism, etc., and can become somatic illness as well. Historically, we are in a value interregnum in which all externally given value systems have proven failures (political, economic, religious, etc.) e.g., nothing is worth dying for. What man needs but doesnt have, he seeks for unceasingly, and he becomes dangerously ready to jump at any hope, good or bad. The cure for this disease is obvious. We need a validated, usable system of human values that we can believe in and devote ourselves to (be willing to die for), because they are true rather than because we are exhorted to "believe and have faith." Such an empirically based Weltanschauung seems now to be a real possibility, at least in theoretical outline." (Maslow, 1968, p. 206.)Morality then is natural. If we use our capacity to think, are honest, sincere and open, we arrive at moral and ethical behavior naturally. The problem is to not destroy our ability to become ourselves.Anhedonia: the absence of pleasure or the ability to experience itAnomie: breakdown or absence of social norms and valuesApathy: lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or excitingAmorality: lacking moralsCynicism: An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of othersInterregnum: a gap in continuityWeltanschauung: a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanitys relation to it.
Abraham Maslow: Self ActualizationIf the tendency toward self-actualization is innate, why are not more adults self- actualized?Maslow estimated that only one percent are. He offered four basic explanations for this low number:
1. Self-actualization is at the top of the motivational hierarchy. This makes it the weakest of all needs and the most easily impeded. He wrote, “This inner nature is not strong and overpowering and unmistakable like the instincts of animals. It is weak and delicate and subtle and easily overcome by habit, cultural pressure, and wrong attitudes toward it.”
• Maslow identified the Jonah Complex (fear of success) as another obstacle to self-actualization. We fear and doubt our own abilities and potentialities. To become self-actualized, one must have enough courage to sacrifice safety for personal growth. Too often, fear takes precedence over the challenge of self- actualization.
1. The cultural environment may also stifle self- actualization by imposing certain norms on major segments of the population. Definitions of “manliness” may prevent the male child from developing traits such as sympathy, kindness, and tenderness, all of which characterize the self-actualized person.
4. Childhood experiences may inhibit personal growth. Maslow observed that children from warm, secure, friendly homes are more likely to choose experiences that lead to personal growth. Excessive control and coddling is obviously harmful but so is excessive permissiveness. Too much freedom in childhood can lead to anxiety and insecurity, which can prevent further growth. Maslow called for “freedom within limits” in which there is the right mixture of permissiveness and regulation.
Assessing the Self In an effort to assess personality, Rogers asked people to describe themselves as they would like to be (ideal) and as they actually are (real). If the two descriptions were close the individual had a positive self-concept. All of our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, in ananswer to the question, “Who am I?” refers to Self-Concept.
Self Concept“Self Concept ... the organized consistent conceptual gestalt composed of perceptions of the characteristics of I or me and the perceptions of the relationships of the I or me to others and to various aspects of life, together with the values attached to these perceptions. It is a gestalt which is available to awareness though not necessarily in awareness. It is a fluid and changing gestalt, a process, but at any given moment it is a specific entity. (Rogers, 1959)”
Carl Rogers agreed with Maslow that people are basically good and are endowed with self-actualizing tendencies. To nurture growth in others, Rogers advised being genuine, empathic, and accepting (offering unconditional positive regard). In such a climate, people can develop a deeper self-awareness and a more realistic and positive self-concept.
The Fully Functioning PersonA growing openness to experience – they move away from defensiveness and have no need for subception (a perceptual defense that involves unconsciously applying strategies to prevent a troubling stimulus from entering consciousness).An increasingly existential lifestyle – living each moment fully – not distorting the moment to fit personality or self concept but allowing personality and self concept to emanate from the experience. This results in excitement, daring, adaptability, tolerance, spontaneity, and a lack of rigidity and suggests a foundation of trust. "To open ones spirit to what is going on now, and discover in that present process whatever structure it appears to have" (Rogers 1961)Increasing organismic trust – they trust their own judgment and their ability to choose behavior that is appropriate for each moment. They do not rely on existing codes and social norms but trust that as they are open to experiences they will be able to trust their own sense of right and wrong.Freedom of choice – not being shackled by the restrictions that influence an incongruent individual, they are able to make a wider range of choices more fluently. They believe that they play a role in determining their own behavior and so feel responsible for their own behavior.Creativity – it follows that they will feel more free to be creative. They will also be more creative in the way they adapt to their own circumstances without feeling a need to conform.Reliability and constructiveness – they can be trusted to act constructively. An individual who is open to all their needs will be able to maintain a balance between them. Even aggressive needs will be matched and balanced by intrinsic goodness in congruent individuals.A rich full life – he describes the life of the fully functioning individual as rich, full and exciting and suggests that they experience joy and pain, love and heartbreak, fear and courage more intensely. Rogers description of the good life:
The Good LifeRogers believed that the good life is where the organism continually aims to fulfill their full potential.Rogers identifies the "real self" as the aspect of ones being that is founded in the actualizing tendency, follows organismic valuing, needs and receives positive regard and self-regard. It is the "you" that, if all goes well, you will become. On the other hand, to the extent that our society is out of sync with the actualizing tendency, and we are forced to live with conditions of worth that are out of step with organismic valuing, and receive only conditional positive regard and self-regard, we develop instead an "ideal self". By ideal, Rogers is suggesting something not real, something that is always out of our reach, the standard we cannot meet. This gap between the real self and the ideal self, the "I am" and the "I should" is called incongruity.
Congruence vs. IncongruenceIn a fully congruent person realizing their potential is not at the expense of experiencing positive regard. They are able to lead lives that are authentic and genuine. Incongruent individuals, in their pursuit of positive regard, live lives that include falseness and do not realize their potential. Conditions put on them by those around them make it necessary for them to forego their genuine, authentic lives to meet with the approval of others. They live lives that are not true to themselves, to who they are on the inside.Rogers suggests that the incongruent individual who is always on the defensive and cannot be open to all experiences is not functioning ideally and may even be malfunctioning. They work hard at maintaining/protecting their self concept. Because their lives are not authentic this is a difficult task and they are under constant threat. They deploy defense mechanisms to achieve this. He describes two mechanisms: distortion and denial. Distortion occurs when the individual perceives a threat to their self concept. They distort the perception until it fits their self concept. Denial follows the same process except instead of distorting they deny the threat exists.This defensive behavior reduces the consciousness of the threat but not the threat itself. And so, as the threats mount, the work of protecting the self concept becomes more difficult and the individual more defensive and rigid in their self structure. If the incongruence is immoderate this process may lead the individual to a state that would typically be described as neurotic. Their functioning becomes precarious and psychologically vulnerable. If the situation worsens it is possible that the defenses cease to function altogether and the individual becomes aware of the incongruence of their situation. Their personality becomes disorganized and bizarre, irrational behavior, associated with earlier denied aspects of self, may erupt uncontrollably.
Evaluating the Humanistic PerspectiveHumanistic psychology has a pervasiveimpact on counseling, education, child-rearing, and management with itsemphasis on a positive self-concept,empathy, and the thought that people arebasically good and can improve.
Evaluating the Humanistic Perspective Criticisms1. Concepts in humanistic psychology are vague and subjective and lack scientific basis.2. The individualism encouraged can lead to self- indulgence, selfishness, and an erosion of moral restraints.3. Humanistic psychology fails to appreciate the reality of our human capacity for evil. It lacks adequate balance between realistic optimism and despair.