Humanistic Psychology

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Overview: Throughout history many individuals and groups have affirmed the inherent value and dignity of human beings. They have spoken out against ideologies, beliefs and practices, which held people to be merely the means for accomplishing economic and political ends. They have reminded their contemporaries that the purpose of institutions is to serve and advance the freedom and power of their members. In Western civilization we honor the times and places, such as Classical Greece and Europe of the Renaissance, when such affirmations were expressed. Humanistic Psychology is a contemporary manifestation of that ongoing commitment. Its message is a response to the denigration of the human spirit that has so often been implied in the image of the person drawn by behavioral and social sciences. Ivan Pavlov's work with the conditioned reflex had given birth to an academic psychology in the United States led by John Watson, which came to be called "the science of behavior”. Its emphasis on objectivity was reinforced by the success of the powerful methodologies employed in the natural sciences and by the philosophical investigations of the British empiricists, logical positivists and the operationalists, all of who sought to apply the methods and values of the physical sciences to questions of human behavior. Valuable knowledge was achieved in this quest. But if something was gained, something was also lost: The "First Force" systematically excluded the subjective data of consciousness and much information bearing on the complexity of the human personality and its development. The "Second Force" emerged out of Freudian psychoanalysis and the depth psychologies of Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Otto Rank, Harry Stack Sullivan and others. These theorists focused on the dynamic unconscious - the depths of the human psyche whose contents, they asserted, must be integrated with those of the conscious mind in order to produce a healthy human personality. The founders of the depth psychologies believed that human behavior is principally determined by what occurs in the unconscious mind. So, where the behaviorists ignored consciousness because they felt that its essential privacy and subjectivity rendered it inaccessible to scientific study, the depth psychologists tended to regard it as the rela... ... middle of paper ... ...ments; the Self-Esteem and Addiction Recovery Movements; Family Therapy, Holistic Health and Hospice, and Organizational Development and Organization Transformation. It is philosophically aligned with the post-modern philosophy of science, constructivist epistemology, structuralism, and deconstructionism. We also could include green politics, deep ecology, the feminist and gay rights movements, and the psycho-spiritual wing of the peace movement. Perhaps this is what Rollo May was pointing to when he suggested that AHP has accomplished the mission for which it was founded. This breadth, depth and diversity is representative of the world we live in and takes into account an integrated and balanced view of human nature and maintaining balance and harmony in the grand scheme of existence. "As the world's people demand freedom and self-determination, it is urgent that we learn how diverse communities of empowered individuals, with freedom to construct their own stories and identities, might live together in mutual peace. Perhaps it is not a vain hope that is life in such communities might lead to the advance in human consciousness beyond anything we have yet experienced. "

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