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Humanistic Existentialism. Existentialism. Big Questions… Are we free to make choices? What is the purpose of relationships with others? What is the meaning of life?. Introduction. experience is subjective make meaning out of it

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  • Big Questions…
  • Are we free to make choices?
  • What is the purpose of relationships with others?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • experience is subjective
  • make meaning out of it
  • born in reaction to psychoanalysis and behaviorism (no freewill)
  • we determine our destiny and that the locus of control for our lives lies within
  • not a coherent theory of personality but

a philosophy

  • derives from people such as Kierkegaard,

Nietzsche, Jaspers, Heidegger, Sartre and


  • European: Binswanger, Boss, and Frankl
  • Frankl- student of Freud and developed logotherapy
  • logotherapy = therapy through meaning
  • existential vacuum = experienced when we do not busy ourselves with routine and work
  • American: May and Yalom
  • Carl Rogers (Humanism)
  • Fritz Perls (Gestalt Psychology)
  • common thread among these approaches is the focus on the conscious experiences
  • emphasizes health rather than sickness
  • clients are not viewed as sick, but rather they are viewed as sick of life or awkward at living
  • respect of individuals
  • exploring new aspects of human behavior
  • existence is not fixed
  • we continually recreate ourselves through our projects
  • humanism = any philosophy which recognizes the value and dignity of persons and makes people the measure of all things
six existential propositions
Six Existential Propositions
  • a) We have the capacity for self-awareness
  • b) Freedom and Responsibility
  • c) Striving for Identity and Relationship to Others
  • d) The Search for meaning
  • e) Anxiety as a condition for living
  • f) Awareness of death and nonbeing
capacity of self awareness
Capacity of Self-Awareness
  • we are finite
  • we can act, or not act
  • we can choose, and thus we can shape our destiny
  • we are basically alone, but we have the opportunity to relate to others
freedom and responsibility
Freedom and Responsibility
  • we are free to choose
  • we must accept responsibility for our actions
  • if we don't accept responsibility for our actions, we act in what Sartre calls "bad faith"
  • existential guilt = occurs when we choose not to choose, or when we let others define or make choices for us
striving for identity and relationship to others
Striving for Identity and Relationship to Others
  • part of the human condition is aloneness
  • we cannot depend on anyone else for our own confirmation
  • define from within
striving for identity and relationship to others1
Striving for Identity and Relationship to Others
  • we alone must give a sense of meaning to life
  • we alone must decide how we live
  • when we are able to stand alone and dip within ourselves for our own strength, our relationships with others are based on fulfillment, not our deprivation
search for meaning
Search for Meaning
  • concerns the struggle for significance and purpose in life
  • therapists would encourage clients to help create a value system that is based on their way of being
  • sometimes people experience meaninglessness
  • we create meaning working, loving, and building
  • life is not meaningful in and of itself, rather an individual creates and discovers meaning
anxiety as condition of living
Anxiety as Condition of Living
  • when we make a decision or change, there will be anxiety
  • there is normal and neurotic anxiety
  • neurotic anxiety = anxiety that is out of proportion to the situation
  • existentialist therapists do not strive to eliminate normal anxiety, rather life can not be lived, nor can death be faced without anxiety
  • "whenever you leave the sure basis of the now and become preoccupied with the future, you experience anxiety“ (Perls)
anxiety as a conditioning of living
Anxiety as a Conditioning of Living
  • Rogers…
  • when we receive information which is inconsistent with our self-concept we experience anxiety
  • the more inaccurate yourself concept, the more likely you will have clashes with other people
  • to ward off anxiety, a person has to reinterpret the experience to make it congruent with their self-concept
awareness of death and nonbeing
Awareness of Death and Nonbeing
  • awareness of death as a basic condition gives significance to life
  • death means that we are finite and that we have a limited amount of time to do things
existential trends
Existential Trends
  • Reversal Theory (Apter, 1989)
  • suggests that our conscious experience shifts between telic and paratelic modes
  • telic mode = consciousness is goal directed
  • to the future
  • paratelic mode = consciousness is direct to the pleasure of the activity at hand
  • present oriented
  • Csikszentmihalyi has argued for a psychology of optimal experience
  • autotelic experiences occur when you are completely absorbed by what you are doing
  • you are able to experience "flow“
abraham maslow

Abraham Maslow


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  • Humanism (Allport, 1930)
  • 1960s and 1970s
  • Third Force Psychology
  • Behaviorism
    • Narrow sterile view of human nature
  • Psychoanalytic
    • Focus on emotional disturbance
  • Brooklyn, New York
  • Intense drive to succeed
  • Unhappy childhood
  • Father –”loved whiskey and woman”
  • Mother – hatred for her, punishing
  • Scrawny, large nose
  • Inferiority complex
  • Academically inclined (IQ = 195)
  • Married at 20, his cousin Bertha
  • fan of behaviorism in the 1930s
  • Training in experimental psychology
  • PhD 1934 University of Wisconsin
  • Taught in New York in the 1930-1940s
  • 1951 – 1969 Brandeis University
  • President of APA 1967
  • died 1970 massive heart attack
  • Hierarchy of Needs
  • Self-actualization (weakest)
  • Esteem
  • Belongingness
  • Safety
  • Physiological (strongest)
  • Instinctoid needs = hereditary component
  • One need dominates personality
characteristics of needs
Characteristics of Needs
  • Vary in strength
  • Higher needs appear later in life
  • SA does not arise until midlife
  • Lower needs called Deficient Needs
  • SA called Being Needs
  • contentment, happiness, fulfillment
  • We work our way up the need chain
  • Total satisfaction does not need to occur
hierarchy of needs
Hierarchy of Needs
  • Physiological Needs
  • food, shelter, water
  • Safety Needs
  • If unsatisfied – infants and neurotic adults
  • Manifest by over need for structure/order
  • Belongingness Needs
  • close relationship with friend, lover, mate or even being part of group
hierarchy of needs1
Hierarchy of Needs
  • Esteem Needs
  • Two needs for esteem
    • From self and others
  • Derived from status, recognition or social success – feelings of self-worth
  • Failure to achieve – inferiority, helpless
self actualization
Self Actualization
  • Highest need (Being Need)
  • Maximal realization of potential
  • Takes many forms
  • Conditions to SA
    • Free from society constraints
    • Not distracted by lower needs
    • Secure in self-image
    • Realistic knowledge of self
exceptions to sa
Exceptions to SA
  • Fasting until death
  • Religious figures
cognitive needs
Cognitive Needs
  • Innate need to know and understand
  • Exists outside the hierarchy of needs
  • Need to know stronger than need to understand
  • Appears in late infancy
  • SA depends on satisfaction of cognitive need
  • B-motivation
  • Drive toward self-actualization
  • Less than 1% of the population
  • D-motivation (deficiency)
  • Drive toward every other need
chacteristics of self actualizers
Chacteristics of Self-actualizers
  • Efficient perception of reality
  • Acceptance of self and others
  • Spontaneous and natural
  • Focus on problems outside themselves
  • Need for privacy/sense of detachment
  • Fresh appreciation and Peak experiences
  • Social Interest and Profound relations
  • Democratic
  • Creative
  • Resistant to enculturation
failure to sa
Failure to SA
  • Inadequate education
  • Improper child-rearing practices
  • Jonah complex
  • The fear that maximizing our potential will lead to a situation with which we will be unable to cope
maslow s view on human nature
Maslow’s view on human nature
  • Freewill
  • Balance of nature versus nurture
  • Balance of past and present
  • Uniqueness of people
  • Emphasis on growth
  • Optimistic view
assessment of maslow s theory
Assessment of Maslow’s Theory
  • Started with the study of
  • Ruth Benedict and Max Wertheimer
  • For historical figures, he worked with
  • biographical material
  • For living persons, he used interviews, free association and projective tests
  • Data collection not rigorous or controlled
  • He referred to his program as consisting of a serious of pilot studies.
  • He is describing an ideal, but how did he arrive at this conclusion?
  • Personal Orientation Inventory (POI)
  • Shostrom (1964)
  • Self-report, 150 pairs of statements
  • Positively correlated with
  • Emotional health, creativity, academic achievement, autonomy, racial tolerance
  • Negatively correlated with
  • Alcoholism, neuroticism, depression and hypochondriasis
  • POI scores increase gradually with age
self determination theory
Self-determination Theory
  • Ryan and Deci, 2000
  • People have an innate tendency to express their interests, exercise their interests, develop their capabilities and overcome challenges
  • Three basic needs:
  • Competence- mastery of tasks
  • Autonomy – freedom to act on one’s choices
  • Relatedness – feeling connected with others
positive psychology
Positive Psychology
  • "studies the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive."
  • "to find and nurture genius and talent”
  • "to make life more fullfilling”
  • not to cure mental illness
  • Martin Seligman the father of positive psychology
carl rogers

Carl Rogers


carl rogers1
Carl Rogers
  • Originated client-centered or person-centered therapy
  • Believes we are rational beings ruled by a conscious perception or our selves and our experiential world
  • Focus on the present
  • Inborn tendency to self-actualize
  • Oak Park, Illinois
  • Strict religious background
    • Suppression of displays of emotions
    • Virtue of hard work
  • Had little social life outside his family
  • Competitive with his brother
  • Felt lonely – inspired his theory of personality
  • Started with agriculture then to theology
  • Swung from fundamentalist to liberal
  • PhD – 1931
  • 1940 – moved from clinical to academia
  • Ohio State University
  • 1945 – 1957: University of Chicago
  • 1957-1963: University of Wisconsin
  • APA President 1946
  • Received APA’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award and Distinguished Professional Contribution Award
  • Self at the core of personality
  • We are motivated to self-actualize
  • Actualization tendency
  • Emcompasses all physiological and psychological needs
  • Actualization begins in womb
  • Responsible for maturation
  • Is genetically determined
  • Full development is not automatic
  • Involves struggle and pain
  • Organismic valuing process
  • The process by which we judge experiences in terms of their value for fostering or hindering our actualization and growth
  • reality of our environment depends on our perception of it
  • perception is subjective
  • Phenomenology (experiential inner world)
  • The only reality we can be sure of is our inner perception of reality
  • Our inner reality is private and only we can know it
development of the self
Development of the Self
  • Need for positive regard
  • Acceptance, love and approval from others
  • Lack of it thwarts SA and development of self
  • Unconditional Positive Regard
  • Love that is independent of behavior
  • Reciprocal influence – when we give love to others, it come back to us
  • Conditions of worth
  • A belief that we are worthy of approval only when we express desirable behaviors and attitudes and refrain from expressing those that bring disapproval from others
  • Conditional positive regard
  • Approval love or acceptance granted only when a person expresses desirable behaviors attitudes
  • Incongruence
  • A discrepancy between a person’s self-concept and aspects of his or her experiences
  • “We should love everyone”
  • Then feel hatred towards another
  • Results in anxiety
  • To decrease the anxiety, we deny the hatred
  • Psychological adjustment is the result of compatibility between our self-concept and our experiences
  • Aspects of self are not denied or distorted
  • Goal – all facets of the self are developed and become a fully functioning person
  • leading the “good life”
fully functioning people
Fully functioning people
  • All aspects of self are developed
  • Awareness of experience
    • Not defensive, reality not distorted
    • Self-concept is not threatened
    • Open to Positive and Negative Experiences
    • Wider range of emotions
fully functioning people1
Fully Functioning People
  • Fresh appreciation of experience
    • Experiences cannot be predicted
    • We participate in fully in experience
  • Trust in one’s own behavior and feelings
    • Trust own reactions rather than being guided by someone’s judgments
    • Nothing is threatening, all is experienced
    • Trust the emotional and intuitive side rather than the intellectual
fully functioning people2
Fully Functioning People
  • Freedom of choice
    • Power in knowing future depends on choices
  • Creativity and spontaneity
  • Continual need to grow, maximize oneself
  • Rogers used the word “actualizing” not “actualized”
  • The latter implies a static personality
rogers on human nature
Rogers on Human Nature
  • Freewill
  • Nurture
  • Present experiences
  • Uniqueness balanced with universality
  • Growth
  • Optimism
rogers in action

Rogers in Action

The Gloria Session

the gloria session
The Gloria Session
  • Gloria Clip 1
  • Gloria Clip 2
  • Gloria Clip 3
  • Gloria Clip 4
  • Gloria Clip 5
the gloria session fritz perls
The Gloria Session – Fritz Perls
  • Link 1
  • Link 2
  • Link 3

What do you think about the difference between the two therapists?