Humanistic Psychology Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers Chapters 11 & 12



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Humanistic Psychology --

Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers

Chapters 11 & 12


  1. Maslow’s The Farther Reaches of Human Nature

    1. Briefly put, it appears to me that science and everything scientific can be and often is used as a tool in the service of a distorted, narrowed, humorless, de-eroticized, de-emotionalized, de-sacralized, and de-sanctified "Weltanschauung". This desacralization can be used as a defense against being flooded by emotion, especially the emotions of humility, reverence, mystery, wonder, and awe.

  2. Assumptions of Humanistic Psychology

      1. “Third Force Psychology”

    1. Focuses on consciousness, the self/self-concept, creativity, personal meaning, and growth.

    2. Human beings have free will

      1. conduct is based on ‘reasons' rather than ‘causes.'

    3. The ultimate ‘cause’ of human behavior is the individual's subjective reality, their conscious experiences and choices.

    4. Experimental methods are often inappropriate to the study of human conduct and experience (holistic vs. ‘variable' approach).

  3. Assumptions of Humanistic Psychology

    1. Research should focus on the complexity and uniqueness of human potential rather than the basic biological enabling conditions.

    2. People are fundamentally good and actualizing.

    3. People are not destined to have neurotic conflict.

    4. Relies on the phenomenological perspective: The study of conscious experience, consciousness, and intentionality

      1. Measuring a phenomenon is not the same as determining its meaning.

      2. Explaining a phenomenon is not the same as understanding it.

  4. Humanistic Psychology:

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)

    1. Started as a behaviorist (animal research).

    2. Believed the study of “higher human functioning” was important, and required different methods.

    3. Became interested in the exceptional rather than the abnormal as a basis for psychology.

    4. Maslow's vision of psychology: theory-oriented but not mechanistic/deterministic.

      1. Created a theory of motivation that included physiological, psychological, and aesthetic needs.

  1. Maslow

      1. Background

    1. Maslow's ideas stemmed from his work with primates, under Harry Harlow (contact comfort)

      1. Maslow concluded the more 'dominant' or controlling = healthier.

      2. Generalized this to humans via interviews (”Conversational probing”) in 1943: "Dominance, Self-esteem, and Self-actualization: A Theory of Human Motivation."

        1. “High dominance feeling empirically involves good self-confidence, self-assurance, high evaluation of the self, feelings of general capability, or superiority, and a lack of shyness, timidity, self-consciousness, or embarrassment.”

      3. Grew increasingly dissatisfied with positivism and behaviorist view of human beings.

  2. Hierarchy of Needs:

Self- Actualizing

  1. Characteristics of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

    1. Hierarchy is divided into ‘being' and ‘deficiency' motivation.

    2. The sequence of needs is invariant, universal, and sequential.

    3. One cannot move to the next level until the present need is fulfilled.

    4. Self-actualization is a "biological need."

      1. Composed of “being needs,” or “b-values”

    5. "Neurosis" is a deficiency disease: we need love and esteem just as we need Vitamin C.

  2. Characteristics of Self-Actualizers

  3. Characteristics of Self-Actualizers

  4. Maslow and Self-Actualizing

    1. As one ascends the hierarchy, needs become more difficult to obtain, easily interfered with, and uniquely human.

      1. Vast majority of people are at the "love" or "esteem" level.

      2. Only 1% of the population self-actualize.

    2. Obstacles to growth:

      1. negative parental influences (conditions of worth);

      2. social or group pressure;

      3. defensiveness (Jonah complex).

        1. More than any other knowledge we fear knowledge of ourselves, knowledge that might transform our self-esteem and our self- image.... While human beings love knowledge and seek it--they are curious--they also fear it. The closer and more personal it is the more they fear it.

  5. Peak Experiences

    1. Peak experiences.

      1. The self-actualized person and "metamotives": no longer motivated by the basic needs but an attempt to enhance their being

      2. are momentarily intense B-value states.

      3. are mystical experiences which transcend ordinary reality.

      4. Characteristics:

        1. Ineffability (can't be expressed),

        2. noetic quality (an essentially intellectual experience of 'truth'),

        3. transiency (last no longer than two hours),

        4. passivity (one's own will is not a factor--it unfolds before you).




  1. Evaluation

    1. To what extent are Maslow’s ideas testable?

      1. Research on his motivational hierarchy; self-actualizing?

    2. Recent research in humanistic psychology: Deci and Ryan ("Organismic needs": autonomy, competence, relatedness)

  2. Carl Rogers (1902-1988)

      1. Centered on the Person: Humanistic Psychotherapy

    1. Key concepts:

      1. People act in accordance with their "Phenomenological field" rather than objective reality.

      2. Self-concept: most basic differentiation of phenomenal field, between ‘me' and ‘you' (not-me).

      3. The emergence of self leads to the need for positive regard.

      4. "Conditions of worth" create "incongruent" self-concepts: torn between seeking validation and actualizing personal potential.

  3. Carl Rogers (1902-1988)

      1. Client/Person Centered Therapy

    1. Facilitating environment: empathy, warmth, unconditional positive regard.

      1. Goal of person-centered therapy: help person become congruent (between ideal self and real self).

    2. Differences with directive therapy:

      1. moves away from medical model (client vs. patient);

      2. anti-technique (although active listening is technically a technique);

      3. focus is on client's experience--goal is to express one's "phenomenal self";

      4. therapist tries to avoid overt interpretations;

      5. tries to focus on the emotion (process) rather than the content.

  4. Six Conditions for Personal Change:

    1. Persons are in psychological contact.

    2. Client is in a state of “incongruence.”

    3. Therapist is in a state of (relative) “congruence.”

    4. Unconditional positive regard for client is experienced by the therapist.

    5. Empathetic understanding is experienced by the therapist; therapist tries to communicate this.

    6. # 4 and 5 must be minimally communicated.

  5. Rogers’ process research:

      1. Stages of change in therapeutic relationship

    1. Rigidity of self-perception

    2. Dim recognition of problem

    3. Self treated as object

    4. Partial recognition of feelings

    5. Improved recognition of feelings

    6. Acceptance of feelings

    7. New feelings expressed and experienced freely.

  6. Responses to Emotional Communications




  1. The Fully Functioning Person

      1. “The Person of Tomorrow”

    1. Compare Rogers’ Fully Functioning Person with Maslow’s Self-Actualizing person

  2. Humanistic Psychology

      1. Evaluation/Criticisms

    1. Overly simplistic and optimistic; culture-bound.

    2. Neglects unconscious forces, social forces (eg., social construction of gender, sexuality, etc.)

    3. “Not scientific” --is that really a criticism?

      1. Rogers’ views are not as rigorous theoretically, but still highly effective therapeutically.

    4. Deci and Ryan (2001) argue that there are at least 2 models of ‘developmental well-being’

      1. Hedonic: emphasizes subjective happiness, satisfaction

      2. Eudaemonic: emphasizes process of self-realization, discovery.


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