The Humanistic-Existential Perspective
The humanistic-existential perspective is both a reaction to and an outgrowth of the psychodynamic perspective. These thinkers refer to psychodynamic theory as inadequate, many were repulsed with its tendency to break down the "whole" person into discrete components, and, the idea of adapting to one's society, however questionable its values. Most importantly, they disagree that human action is beyond the individuals control, in fact they believe that if we could develop with out constraints, we would be rational and socialized. Humanists and existentialists also think psychology should be converted into a human science, different from psychological theories with more focus on natural science. Nonetheless, there would be four basic premises that both groups (humanists & existentialists) would follow.
First is the Phenomenological Approach. This entails the therapist entering into the patients world by tuning into their mental life and seeing the world as they do through their eyes. This is accomplished by listening with a lot of empathy and avoiding searching for evidence to fill their own theories by not looking into the real truth of their patients statements. This approach considers the minds knowledge for its own behavior. Second, the Uniqueness of the Individual is taken into consideration. This concept suggests every person percieves the world differently through their own "self-creation", thus making us unique. According to this premise, to subject the patients to a set of formulas, in comparison to psychodynamic theory, is to limit the therapists knowledge. This perspective also understands that while society sets rules to follow, such rules cannot define a human life. The third premise is Human Potental. This emphasizes the ability for a human to become what they want and fulfill their capabilities, by growth through experience. Both humanists and existenialists see the individual as a process. Finally, the concept of Freedom and Responsibility is met. What this means, and what also makes the humanistic- existential perspective stand apart from any other psychological stand-point is the belief that we are as humans, given self-awareness. Meaning, we can control our impulses and are responsible for them. In other words we create our own destinies, the result is reached through our own judgement.
Humanist Carl Rogers developed a theory that saw behavior motivated by what he called the actualizing tendency, the desire to preserve and enhance oneself through self-actualization. While persuing self- actualization we engage in the valuing process, where we go through various experiences that either enhance oneself and are valued as good, or, bad experiences not enhancing oneself which are avoided. Hence, how we handle this process relies on two interacting factors: the organism, our total perception of our experiences, and, the self, our image of ourselves. A major...