Humanistic Psychology Research Proposal

Pages: 12 (3336 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 13  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology

Humanistic Psychology

THE PERSON AS THE CENTER OF THINGS

Psychologists found that a Third Force filled the void left by earlier approaches to understanding the workings of the human mind in its pursuit of genuine fulfillment and personal happiness. This Third Force centers on the unconditional worth of the individual, which guides him in his journey to optimal self-discovery and self-acceptance. But first, he must meet a hierarchy of needs likewise inherent in his body-soul combination. Meeting these, he reaches self-actualization. The Third Force, or humanist psychology, has achieved widespread acceptance and application to current-day disciplines.

Psychology is one of the youngest sciences, which developed into a formal discipline only in the late 19th century (Kassin, 2009). But its foundation pre-existed in the ancient past when philosophers and religious thinkers pondered over the nature of the mind and the soul. The term "psychology" originated from the Greek words "psyche," which means soul, and "logos," which means study. The term was first used in the 16th century when the human soul, spirit or mind was perceived as distinct from the body. Psychologists endeavor to understand the mysterious operations of human nature. They study why people think, feel and act the way they do. In the pursuit of this task, they investigate a wide range of phenomena. These include learning and memory, sensation and perception, motivation and emotion, thinking and language, personality and social behavior, intelligence, infancy and child development and mental illness. They study phenomena from varying perspectives to achieve their goal. They conduct biological studies of the brain, explore how the mind processes information, analyze evolutionary processes and investigate the influence of culture and society (Kassin).

Psychologists in the 50s and the 60s felt that something was missing in the prevalent concept of human nature (Kassin, 2009). Sigmund Freud grabbed much attention to the dark forces of the unconscious mind. On the other hand, Burrhus Frederick Skinner focused on the effects of reinforcement on observable behavior. A third alternative, called "the third force," evolved to fill in the void. It would understand the conscious mind, man's free will and dignity and his capacity for self-reflection and growth. It would be an alternative to Freud's psychoanalysis and Skinner's behaviorism (Kassin).

American psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow led the humanist movement (Kassin, 2009). Rogers believed that all human beings are born with an innate drive for full capacity and that they behave consistently with their true selves. He developed the person-centered psychotherapeutic approach. It would help patients see themselves clearly and facilitate their own healing process. Maslow, on the other hand, taught that human beings are inherently motivated to fulfill a hierarchy of needs. These are basic physiological needs, needs for safety and security, belonging, love, self-esteem and achievement. Maslow argued that the human person instinctively seeks self-actualization. When he achieves it, he reaches the ultimate state of personal fulfillment wherein he is at peace with himself (Kassin).

Discussion

The Third Force

Humanistic psychology evolved as the adverse reaction to the unacceptability of psychodynamic psychology and behaviorism (Moore, 2001; Katz, 2009). Advocates of the new psychology rejected the psychodynamic view of selfish pursuit as at the base of all human behavior. They also refused the notion that human behavior proceeds from environmental influences, as interpreted by behaviorism. Both concepts placed human behavior at the mercy of outside factors. Humanists argued that human beings possess the innate potential, ability and inclination to fulfill themselves and determine their own destinies. The ultimate goal of humanistic psychology is to help people or patients discover their own potential and achieve it. The two theoretical approaches of the Third Force, or humanistic psychology, are the person-centered approach by Carl Rogers and the self-actualization approach by Abraham Maslow (Moore, Katz).

The Third Force was a departure from the first force psychology, which focused on animals and sick persons to functioning human beings (Cassell & Reiger, 2000). But it drew heavily from the second force, which dealt with neurotic and psychotic patients for methodology. Humanistic psychology puts the individual person at the center of things. It aims at emotional development, improvement of interpersonal relations and enhance self-actualization through a goal-setting and goal-striving process (Cassell & Reiger). The term "the Third Force," was first used by Abraham Maslow in his work, "Toward a Psychology of Being," published in 1962 (Van Wagner 2009). Although the Third Force deviated from the perspectives of the first two schools of thought, all three made separate contributions to the better understanding of the human mind and behavior. The Third Force is different from the first two in that it offers a more holistic perspective of the individual (Van Wagner).

Vital to Psychotherapy

Humanistic psychology was a reprieve at impersonal times of mechanical health care, biochemical and pharmacologic forms of therapy, and computer-generated outputs (Corlis, 2008). It restored attention to the human person. It is of particular benefit to the vulnerable sector, such as the disadvantaged. The typically disadvantaged are the economically deprived ethnic minorities. They are subject to a number of stressors, including poverty, poor housing conditions, culture requirements, unemployment or underemployment, unsanitary or unsafe living conditions, insufficient health care and psychosocial stressors. These psychosocial stressors include alcoholism, domestic violence, and child abuse or neglect (Corlis).

The person-centered approach of human psychology deals squarely and deeply with the present life conditions of the disadvantaged (Corlis, 2008). It enables the disadvantaged patient confront his situation and determine what needs to change and how to do it. It is very likely that he has been subjected to institutional discrimination or indifference in addition to other stressors. Humanistic psychology asserts that, despite this, he or his life is of unconditionally valuable. The therapist shows this by giving the patient undivided attention and constant assurance. The therapist infuses realistic hope into the patient. If the therapy succeeds, the patient develops the capability to formulate realistic and achievable goals to change his life. The therapist may use a teleological or optimistic approach towards the patient's actualization, growth and development. The therapy is essentially an interpersonal relationship between the therapist and the patient. It develops into a "learning laboratory" wherein the therapist is a present and grounded confidant, rather than a black screen or a high-handed mentor. The encounter has to be thoroughly genuine in order to achieve their common goal. Anything less will yield artificial or minimally desirable results. A poor, distressed, traumatized, ethnic and marginalized patient can be guided towards self-actualization only by a genuine, present and focused, as well as available, therapist. He is among the most proper recipients of the therapy (Corlis).

Prime Movers

Carl Rogers suggested that trusting one's experience and believing in oneself are paramount in self-fulfillment (Moore, 2001; Katz, 2009). Failure to do these distorts one's self-view and results in abnormal behavior. His view of himself is not aligned with his ideal. The therapist helps the patient understand and accept himself. The therapist does this by assuring and making the patient feel that he is accepted and that his individual worth is unconditional. Research has shown that the relationship established between therapist and patient is instrumental to the success of therapy. Success level has been so significant that empathy, warmth and acceptance became the "core conditions" or "common factors" in counseling. Psychologists use these conditions or factors in assisting patients to feel and act differently.

Abraham Maslow perceived every human being as innately good and driving towards the fulfillment of their potentials (Moore, 2001; Katz, 2009; Encyclopedia of Psychology,

2001). This is self-actualization. The process, however, goes through stages in the fulfillment of a hierarchy of needs. These needs must be satisfied in their respective stage and sequence for self-actualization to occur. Physical and safety needs must be met before a sense of belonging. When these needs are met, the person may work towards the need for self-esteem and then self-actualization. Maslow believed that it is in fulfilling self-esteem needs that trouble happens and impedes self-actualization. This is also where therapy is needed to correct the patient's inaccurate view of himself. It is aimed at improving, reinstating or installing self-esteem to help him achieve self-actualization (Moore, Katz, Encyclopedia of Psychology).

Research showed mixed reactions to Maslow's theory (Moore, 2001; Katz, 2009).

The findings of one important study did not match the assumption that physiological and safety needs have to be met before self-actualization can occur. The respondents were placed in a stressful situation, which threatened the fulfillment of those needs. Maslow theorized that creativity would be thwarted if these needs were unmet or threatened. But results of this study showed that the respondents became more creative in reacting to their problem of survival (Moore; Katz; Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence, 1998).

the Individual and His Intrinsic Goodness

Humanists believe that the present is the most important moment and aspect of the person (Heffner, 2004). He should focus in what is here and now instead of looking back at the past or wondering about what is to come. Their concept is based on reality,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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