Theoretical Belief of Formation of a Personality - Humanistic
There are many theories of the development of the personality, and/or parts of our behaviors, who’s to say which is right, wrong, somewhere in the middle, spot on or missed the mark altogether, since none of us fit neatly into any one box , more likely many boxes fit us; us human beings are complex, unique and individual.
The theoretical thought from the Humanist School and in particular that of the American psychologist Carl Rogers who is believed to be the founding member and the creator of Person-Centred psychology and Person-centred counselling along with the works of Carl Jung the founder of Analytical Psychology is where my foundations within my counselling work are influenced.
Both Rogers and Jung focused their studies on ‘Self’ emphasising the importance of ‘The Self’ as an individual psyche and the personal quest for wholeness in Jungian terms and Self-actualisation in Rogerian terms. Both seeing the psyche as self-regulating and self-motivating.
The Self being the total sum of all our psyche parts and seen as the central organising whole of the personality. In Jungian and Rogerian thought The Self is the guiding principle which motivates the process of self-actualisation and the Individuation process both a quest for wholeness and/or reaching our fullest potential.
Whilst this is a possibility it seems both thought the process is never quite complete since we are always striving for and reacting to new challenges and once we reach what might be thought as our full potential there is always more which can be learnt as our situations change and our milestones in life change each phase bringing some new challenge. No one person can ‘know’ everything, so this makes sense we are a process not a product, not a finished article!
This is where Rogers and Jung’s theories of personality go their separate ways in that Individual thought on the goal of the human being is to reach all they can be and become whole, they have different views on how that might come about and how or what the psych is constructed of!
Carl Rogers focuses on the actualising tendency and the formulation of our self-concept and the uniqueness of us as individuals, Rogers thoughts are that we will behave in ways which are consistent with our self-image, how we see ourselves. So, for example if we see our self as a failure, flawed or weak we will behave in this way, if we see our self as confident, successful and capable then this is how we would behave. Almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those in the failure zone affirming this stance and those in the confidence zone also affirming this stance! Rogers thought the more our self image is closer to our ideal self the more congruent we are in our behaviours, consistent, healthy and the more value we believe we have (organismic valuing process)
Along with Abraham Maslow who created a Hierarchy of Needs whose concepts for psychological health is the fulfilment of each level of need, before one can reach for fulfilment of the next level. According to Maslow once all the lower needs are fulfilled then we can reach for and gain self-actualisation. Both Rogers and Maslow focus is upon the positive aspects of the human being and the positive qualities an individual has innate access to.
In the self-actualising state a person would have all their needs met and therefore a state of contentment, happiness and peaceful living would be achieved.
Humanistic psychology is interested in the person as a whole within their environments, how this might affect their behaviours and believe human beings are ultimately ‘free beings’, able to define their own meaningful destinies.
Emphasising responsibility of the individual to shape their inner and outer worlds, by being active and creative, living in the present moment, whilst responding in the subjective, which build the ‘perceptions’ of the individual within relationships to and with self and others.
Rogers thought there are 5 characteristics of the fully functioning person:
1. Open to experience
2. Increasing lifestyle to existential living
3. Confident and trusting of their organism
4. Experiential Freedom
5. Creative or psychological maturity
People who are fully functioning are happy and satisfied with their lives, they experience the true essence of freedom recognising free will in their actions i.e. able to choose for self, taking full responsibility for their self and using opportunity when provided. Fully functioning people are balanced, well-adjusted, cope with life’s conundrum as they arise and have a strong sense of self which isn’t easily knocked out of their equilibrium. This person is actualizing their fullest potential, using all their capabilities, talents and gifts for self and within their communities, fully functioning people are moving towards complete knowledge of their self, they are deeply self-aware, know their strengths and weaknesses although might not let others know them. They are transparent but also have a private self they keep only for the self to see fully.
Rogers called this ‘the good life’ and recognized this would be an ‘Ideal Self’, the closer we are to our Ideal Self the less space the opposite that of the ‘false’ self’ has room to be defensive, incongruent and unhealthy.
Rogers suggests 19 propositions which construct person-centred theory of the personality and how people would behave if they were a healthy fully functioning person.
Outlined in his book Client Centred Therapy 1951- the healthy personality would look something like this:
1. All individuals (organisms) exist in a continually changing world of experience (phenomenal field) of which they are
2. The organism reacts to the field as it is experienced and perceived. This perceptual field is "reality" for the self.
3. The organism reacts as an organized whole to this phenomenal field.
4. A portion of the total perceptual field gradually becomes differentiated as the self.
5. As a result of interaction with the environment, and particularly as a result of evaluation, interaction with
others, the structure of the self is formed - an organized, fluid, consistent and conceptual pattern of perceptions of
characteristics and relationships of the "I" or the "me", together with values attached.
6. The organism has one basic tendency and striving - to actualize, maintain and enhance the experiencing
7. The best vantage point for understanding behavior is from the internal frame of reference of the individual.
8. Behavior is basically the goal directed attempt of the organism to satisfy its needs as experienced, in the field as
9. Emotion accompanies, and in general facilitates, such goal directed behavior, the kind of emotion being related to
the perceived significance of the behavior for the maintenance and enhancement of the organism
10. Values experienced directly by the organism, and in some instances are values introjected or taken over from
others, but perceived in distorted fashion, as if they had been experienced directly.
11. As experiences occur in the life of the individual, they are either, a) symbolized, perceived and organized into some
relation to the self, b) ignored because there is no perceived relationship to the self structure, c) denied
symbolization or given distorted symbolization because the experience is inconsistent with the structure of the self.
12. Most ways of behaving that are adopted by the organism are those that are consistent with the concept of self.
13. In some instances, behavior may be brought about by organic experiences and needs which have not been
symbolized. Such behavior may be inconsistent with the structure of the self but in such instances the behavior is
not "owned" by the individual.
14. Psychological adjustment exists when the concept of the self is such that all the sensory and visceral experiences
of the organism are, or may be, assimilated on a symbolic level into a consistent relationship with the concept of
15. Psychological maladjustment exists when the organism denies awareness of significant sensory and viscera
l experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self structure. When this
situation exists, there is a basic or potential psychological tension.
16. Any experience which is inconsistent with the organization of the structure of the self may be perceived as a threat,
and the more of these perceptions there are, the more rigidly the self structure is organized to maintain itself.
17. Under certain conditions, involving primarily complete absence of threat to the self structure, experiences which
are inconsistent with it may be perceived and examined, and the structure of self revised to assimilate and include
18. When the individual perceives and accepts into one consistent and integrated system all his sensory and visceral
experiences, then he is necessarily more understanding of others and is more accepting of others as separate
19. As the individual perceives and accepts into his self-structure more of his organic experiences, he finds that he is
replacing his present value system - based extensively on introjections which have been distortedly symbolized
with a continuing organism valuing process.
Carl Rogers - On Becoming a Person
Carl Rogers - Client-Centred Therapy
Eugene Pascal - Jung to Live By
The 19 propositions form the basis of how Rogers saw peoples personality developing, how changing comes about and the reaching for and achieving self-actualization.