During the 1950s, Humanistic Psychology began as a reaction to psychoanalysis and behaviorism, which dominated psychology at the time. Psychoanalysis was focused on understanding the unconscious motivations that drove behavior while behaviorism studied the conditioning processes that produced behavior.
Humanist thinkers felt that both psychoanalysis and behaviorism were too pessimistic, either focusing on the most tragic of emotions or failing to take into account the role of personal choice.
Humanistic psychology was instead focused on each individual's potential and stressed the importance of growth and self-actualization. The fundamental belief of humanistic psychology was that people are innately good, with mental and social problems resulting from deviations from this natural tendency. Part of the therapy process is understood as freeing the individual up to embrace their basic goodness and potential. In doing this, it is believed they will be happier and satisfied with life.
Humanistic psychologists believe that every person has a strong desire to realize his or her full potential, to reach a level of "self-actualization". To prove that humans are not simply blindly reacting to situations, but trying to accomplish something greater, Maslow studied mentally healthy individuals instead of people with serious psychological issues. This informed his theory that people experience “peak experiences", high points in life when the individual is in harmony with himself and his surroundings. In Maslow's view, self-actualized people can have many peak experiences throughout a day while others have those experiences less frequently. Peak experiences are profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture, when a person feels more whole, alive, self-sufficient and yet a part of the world, more aware of truth, justice, harmony, goodness, and so on. Self-actualizing people have many such peak experiences.
Criticisms of Humanistic Psychology
• Humanistic psychology is often seen as too subjective; the importance of individual experience makes it difficult to objectively study and measure humanistic phenomena. How can we objectively tell if someone is self-actualized? The answer, of course, is that we cannot. We can only rely upon the individual's own assessment of their experience.
• Another major criticism is that observations are unverifiable; there is no accurate way to measure or quantify these qualities.
Strong Points of Humanistic Psychology
• One of the major strengths of humanistic psychology is that it emphasizes the role of the individual; this school of psychology gives more credit to the individual in controlling and determining their state of mental health.
• It also takes environmental influences into account; rather than focusing solely on our internal thoughts and desires, humanistic psychology also credits the environment's influence on our experiences.
• Humanistic psychology continues to influence therapy, education, healthcare and other areas.
Humanistic psychology helped remove some of the stigma attached to therapy and made it more acceptable for normal, healthy individuals to explore their abilities and potential through therapy.
Define these important terms:
a)Pessimistic: _____expecting the worst possible outcome.________________________________________________________
____having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future._________________________________________________________
__a kind of transpersonal and ecstatic state.___________________________________________________________
__based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or options.