Humanistic Psychology

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Humanistic Psychology is sometimes considered the “third force” in psychology in the 1950’s, breaking from the other two popular branches: psychoanalyst and behaviorist. Humanistic psychology emphasizes the whole individual and stresses concepts such as free will, self-efficacy, and self-actualization. Humanist strive to help people fulfill their potential and maximize well-being.

​The new brand of psychology felt that both psychoanalysis and behaviorism were pessimistic, more concerned with dysfunction, and in behaviorism’s case, undermining the importance of personal choice.

Humanistic Psychology Founder

In 1957 and 1958, Abraham Maslow and Clark Moustakas established a professional association that emphasized a more positive and humanistic approach. The associations discussions revolved around topics such as:

From the foundational beginnings of a positive psychology emerged humanism. Carl Rodgers is largely known in the psychology community as the founder of humanistic psychology. Rodgers introduced person centered therapy which has become a staple for therapist around the world.

Psychology Fanatic articles and research are heavily influenced by humanism principles.

The Impact of the New Psychology

Humanistic psychology added another dimension to psychological thought, adding to the established fields.  Humanisms influence on the field of psychology includes:

  • Humanistic therapy: A number of different types of psychotherapy have emerged that are rooted in the principles of humanism. These include client-centered therapy, existential therapy, and Gestalt therapy. 
  • Personal development: Because humanism stresses the importance of self-actualization and reaching one’s full potential, it can be used as a tool of self-discovery and personal development.

Humanistic psychology (humanism) begins with the assumption that people are innately good, believing that morality, ethical values, and good intentions are the driving forces of behavior, while adverse environments and disrupting psychological experiences impact natural tendencies.

Fundamental Assumptions of Humanistic Psychology

If you have encountered a few of my articles, then many of these concepts will sound familiar. Unquestionably, the foundational principles of humanistic psychology ring true in my soul. Accordingly, I aspire to implement them in my life.

  • Experiencing, a combination of thinking, sensing, perceiving, feeling, remembering, is central to understanding human behavior.
  • A Person’s subjective experience is the primary indicator of behavior.
  • Studying animals misses many of critical aspects of the human experience.
  • Free will exists. Individuals should take personal responsibility for self-growth and fulfillment.
  • Self-actualization (a person’s potential) is natural when surrounding environments are kind.
  • People are inherently good and experience growth when given suitable conditions.
  • Each person and each experience is unique.

​Major Contributors to Humanistic Psychology

Among my favorites are Carl Rodgers, Gordon Allport, Rollo May, and Fritz Pearls. I have read their work extensively, discovering many nuggets of wisdom.

  • Carl Rogers
  • Gordon Allport
  • James Bugental
  • Charlotte Buhler
  • Rollo May
  • Gardner Murphy
  • Henry Murray
  • Fritz Perls
  • Kirk Schneider
  • Louis Hoffman
  • Paul Wong.

​Major Psychological Principles that Emerged from Humanism

Many of the concepts of humanism will sound familiar. They decorate our language and influence our culture. Basically, from obscure beginnings, humanism has become part of who we are as a people.

A Few Final Words by Psychology Fanatic

Humanistic psychology has significantly influenced both professional and cultural thought. Overall, the theory positively impacts our lives. Certainly, we would do much better as a species if we could personally and globally implement some of the main principles of humanism. I will continue to strive to do my part, from my small corner of the planet, trying to enhance individual well-being, encouraging others to reach towards their human potential, and working to express unconditional positive regard to those I meet.

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