Term Paper: Humanistic Psychology Today, People See

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Humanistic Psychology

Today, people see a wide variety of psychologists and psychiatrists for their mental healthcare needs. Although all of these professionals have the same goal of providing the psychological care the clients/patients require, they use different approaches.

The value of different methodology offers people a wide choice in care, since individuals respond better to some approaches than others.

Toward the middle of the 20th century, psychologists such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Anthony Sutich criticized the mainstream psychology schools for "providing a diminished model of human nature" (Moss, 2001, p. 5). American psychology was dominated by the two ideologies behaviorism and psychoanalysis, and neither fully dealt with personal values, intentions and meaning as elements in conscious existence. Humanistic psychology was founded with a new emphasis on the experience of the totally functioning person, emotional maturity and interaction in relationships. Humanistic psychologists care deeply about what it means to be completely human and seek many avenues and technologies to help people reach their potential. The discipline offers a positive view of human beings and their significant capacity of self-determination. Ethics and values are major psychological aspects of human behavior, with distinct qualities such as intentionality, decision-making, creativity, interconnection of body, mind and spirit, and the capacity of enhancing awareness, responsibility, and trustworthiness (Moss, 2001, p. 6). Humanist therapists call themselves transpersonalists, Gestalt therapists, psycho-physiologists, integral psychologists, mind/body practitioners, postmodernists and human scientists (Moss, 2001, p. 24).

Originally humanistic psychology was a protest against psychoanalysis, but most recently there is a convergence of some aspects of the two Wertz (1998, p. 68) states, for example, humanistic psychologists can perform an invaluable service to psychoanalysis, which has long been accused by mainstream academic psychology of being unscientific. Humanists can also give a framework for critically acknowledging and abandoning the ways in which psychoanalysis has given up its most productive orientation to appear, if not to be, natural scientific. "In the struggle to establish a genuine human science, humanistic and psychoanalytic psychologists can rightfully join forces on the deepest common ground."

Out of the humanistic approach came a number of offshoots. At the end of the 19th century, William James theorized about the nature of consciousness, advocating psychology should develop around an integrated cognitive psychology of experiential consciousness. He asserted that consciousness does not exist as an independent entity, but rather as a function of particular states including waking consciousness. Now experiential therapists combine humanistic thought with a focus on deliberate openness, active acceptance, mindfulness, and psychological embracing of experience. Meditative procedures, body work, or experiential procedures, exemplify this kind of acceptance (Hayes, 1999, p. 30). The foundation of body work is that people's physical bodies store some of the memories of earlier events, so that therapists can gain insights by recognizing how a person holds and uses his/her body. For example, a person may have more pain than normal following an automobile accident, because of the fear turned inward.

Phenomenology is a movement in philosophy adapted by certain psychologists to better understand the relationship between a person and anything he/she is consciously observing (Stewart & Mickunas, 1990, p. 3). Much of this approach is based on the studies of Edmund Husserl, who notes that phenomenology describes what is given to people in experience without concealing preconceptions or hypothetical speculations. Husserl is concerned with what humans recognize as their experiential reality and truth. He encourages philosophers and scientists to set aside theoretical assumptions and describe their immediate experience of phenomena. He emphasizes the intentionality of human mental activity (Stewart & Mickunas, 1990, p. 4).

Existentialism is normally known through philosophy and literature. It can also relate to phenomenology, because it accepts that which is concrete and normal. Now some psychologists place these two terms phenomenology and Existentialism together into the concept of phenomenology existentialism. Stewart and Mickunas state about the relationship of the two thought approaches in Exploring Phenomenology (1990, p. 63), "Failure to see [the] intimate connection between phenomenology and existentialism will result in thinking of existentialism as only a subjective reaction against systematic thinking and not as a philosophic movement with its own set of problems and methods."

Whereas Husserl sees the aim of phenomenology to describe the world from the view of a detached observer, existential phenomenology stresses that the observer is not able to separate her/himself from this world. Existential phenomenologists more thoroughly add the doctrine of intentionality of consciousness. Thus, the psychology of existential phenomenology is the study of the totality of what a person observes and experiences.

Humanistic psychology and phenomenology both employ a human science approach to psychology that seeks to explain behavior in terms of a person's subjective existence. Whereas natural science methodology rejects the possibility that moral imperatives can be validated, human science methodology allows phenomenological convictions to justify recommendations about a fulfilled life and a good society (Kendler, 2005, p. 318). Human science studies the mind, body and spirit of people.

Humanistic scholars such as Maslow and Rollo May criticized psychoanalysis and behaviorism for trying to explain the total range of human nature in terms of mechanisms "drawn from the study of neurotic patients and laboratory rats." Sigmund Freud wrote monographs about artists such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and religious leaders such as Moses (Moss, 2001, p. 4). Thus, the humanists challenge themselves by understanding people on the basis of their greatest potential and by studying individuals who demonstrate the highest levels of functioning.

In the late 1960's, a new field developed that unified the areas of psychology, neurophysiology, cybernetics and medicine. In 1969 Neal Miller published an article in Science on the "Learning of Visceral and Glandular Responses," where a scientist applies sensitive electronic instruments to a human in order to obtain information about physiologic processes. As a result, the person gains more awareness and control over his/her physiology and is able to self-regulate more effectively. This was the beginning of bio-feedback, giving information back to a person about life processes (Moss, 1998, p. 235). (Many psychologists started to become interested namely, voluntary control of normally-unconscious psychological and physiological processes. Explains Green and Green, 1973) who helped introduce this new concept: The programs... deal with one's power to modify and control, through volition, one's own mental, emotional, and physiological states, without hypnotic programming by another person;...The primary goal is self mastery.... coupled with the development of awareness of what, in Zen, is called the True Self." The process here is to help people actually control their inner selves.

Edmond Taylor began to study the psychological dynamics of the doctrine of karma. In his book Richer by Asia (1947), he states:

Today the path of self-understanding which all the sages have taught was the way to inner peace, which the psychiatrists have discovered is the key to psychic health, does not end at the foot of the Boh tree nor at the analyst's couch.

As I found for myself in Asia, the study of the causes of man's disunity becomes an adventure of the mind and a discipline of self-knowledge when it is used to discover the roots of disunity in ourselves, to lay bare the resistances, the hesitations, and the contradictions hidden beneath our own verbalizations of the ideal of human unity.

Once the movement toward biofeedback and voluntary change became popular, there was an automatic link with Eastern philosophy. The Eastern psychology of the consciousness emphasizes the mind level and the importance of altered states or meditation. This also becomes the link between Western psychology and Eastern religion.

The Encyclopedia of Religion defines transpersonal psychology as concerned with the study of those states and processes where individuals experience a deeper or wider sense of who they are, or a sense of greater connectedness with others, nature, or the "spiritual" dimension. "Transpersonal" means "beyond the personal," and a common assumption is that transpersonal experiences involve a higher mode of consciousness where the ordinary mental-egoic self is transcended.

Transpersonal schools explicitly confront spiritual realities by using an mixture of scientific and spiritual methodologies that focus on transcendent experiences. Most transpersonal psychologists explicitly assume the reality of a spiritual realm that can be investigated by appropriate methodologies. This leads some to perceive them primarily as a religious psychology. Transpersonal psychologists argue that psychology schools can no longer take a hostile or nonexistent view toward religion. At minimum, they believe that clinical and counseling psychologies be sensitive to religious beliefs (Encyclopedia of Religion).

Humanistic psychology has moved in many directions since it was first developed. It is adapting to the needs of humans as they face more difficult challenges presented to them in modern Western life. Because of this, many humanistic psychologists emphasize the importance of social change, the goal of altering old institutions and inventing new ones that can sustain both human development and organizational efficacy. The stress should be on interdependence and human responsibility to one another, to society and culture, and to the future (Association of Humanistic Psychology).

In the 1970s and 80s, the ideas and values of humanistic… [END OF PREVIEW]

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