A psychologically healthy person takes responsibility for his actions, whether negative or positive. The individual has distinct, inherent and unconditional worth. This means that he remains important and acceptable despite his mistakes and imperfections. And person's life is meant to achieve personal growth, self-understanding and understanding of others and the world. Happiness is possible only through self-knowledge, self-understanding and self-acceptance (Heffner).
The lack of research on humanistic psychology can be explained one way by its nature and philosophical and theoretical mechanisms (Moore, 2001; Katz, 2009).
Practitioners stress acceptance of the patient as a person, instead of a critical examination of his behavior. They focus on the uniqueness of his experience rather than dwell on the workings of his behavior. They operate under the "phenomenal perspective," which holds that people are best understood and helped by examining and appreciating their individual and unique experience and aspirations. This personal perspective has also become popular in the field of scientific psychology. A motivation program, called "Personal Power," by Anthony Robbins applies the humanistic psychology's view that a person is responsible for the kind of life he or she chooses to live (Moore, Katz).
The Higher Stage of Human Development
A person who has attained a higher stage of human development undergoes certain noticeable structural personality changes (Hartman & Zimberoff, 2008). Among these are greater abstraction of thought, inclusiveness and self-awareness; integration and adoption of predecessors' levels of development; equilibrium and wisdom. Greater wisdom means that the person is able to integrate with what he learns, internalizes self-processes and merges self with the environment. His ego is able to interpret itself more independently, on long-term, in the abstract and internally. His emotional expressions grow out of an internal perspective more than passing situations. He holds a more positive view of the self and humanity, can connect differences, and has stable awareness of what is here and now. He has developed more adaptive responses to both internal and external stimuli and challenges (Orme-Johnson, 2000 as qtd in Hartman & Zimberoff).
A person who reaches this high stage of human development acquires greater personal fulfillment and becomes more adaptable and efficient in thought and behavior (Hartman & Zimberoff, 2008). Studies provided evidence that such a person has increased learning, perceptual and motor skills. He can absorb more with total attention. Creativity, self-concept, and neurological efficiency rise at higher levels. At the same time, he experiences less stress, depression, introversion and neuroticism. In contrast with the loud and more individualistic ego, that of a person in the high stage of development is quiet, more independent, thinks in the abstract and in internal terms. In that state, his ego never loses its self-identity. Instead, it becomes even stronger as it becomes quieter. It also becomes more resilient more assured (Alexander et al. 1989 as qtd in Hartman & Zimberoff).
A person in this stage of development is described as "fully human (Hartman & Zimberoff, 2008)." He has attained personal freedom to express his deepest essence. He lives spontaneously and can rise to a stage of greatness. He can boast of his creativeness but that creativeness is tempered with a great humility, which has transcended the ego (Hartman & Zimberoff).
The person begins his journey to this high stage by first resolving traumas in the early stages of development (Hartman & Zimberoff, 2008). Traumas are threats or fears encountered by the ego, which prompt the person to make necessary changes to alleviate. Often, these threats translate into an unconscious obsession to meet basic needs, such as safety, approval or self-esteem. These are experienced as a "push" from behind. In comparison, optimal development motivates the person to respond to the innate "pull" to become fully human. It presents a promise of fulfillment in reaching the highest level of selfhood, which transcends the self. It is a stepping into one's greatness and a fulfilling of is own destiny. As the person journeys from trauma resolution in his ascent to higher development, his perspective of himself, culture, environment and the world changes mode. His old and outside perspective -- influenced by family, society, culture, science and religion -- transforms into a perspective from the inside. This inside perspective is characterized by knowing, intuition and mystical experience (Grassie, 2007 as qtd by Hartman & Zimberoff).
Strengths and Weaknesses
Humanistic psychology has been praised for a number of reasons. It emphasizes the role and value of the individual (Van Wagner, 2009). It endows the person with the credit of controlling and determining his own stage of mental health. It gives due consideration to the influence of the environment on human experience. It continues to influence therapy, education, health care and related fields. It likewise helped eliminate the stigma attached to therapy as applicable only to the sick. It is now accepted as applicable to normal and healthy individuals who want to discover their hidden potentials and achieve them through therapy (Van Wagner).
At the same time, it is criticized as too subjective (Van Wagner, 2009). There is no way to objectively measure and determine internal phenomena. The therapist or observer can only rely on the patient's own assessment of his progress. Neither can the phenomena be objectively measured by outside observation (Van Wagner).
The Future of Humanistic Psychology
Humanistic psychology is seen to endure in at least two areas. One is through the persisting and deepening exploration of underlying philosophical foundations of investigation (Warmoth, 1998). These are phenomenological, social constructionist and human system approaches ingrained in the humanistic concept. The other is through the ongoing and increasing collaboration among theorists, researchers, and practitioners who support humanistic values. Their shared commitment with the Association of Humanist Sociology towards humanizing society and its institutions will sustain or perpetuate the concept. Collaboration can fruitfully in three areas. One is a systematic exploration of the connection and relationship among the person, the community and society. Another is in addressing the challenges of decreasing marginality and enhancing diversity. And the third is the development of a concept on deep democracy and its infusion from political into the cultural and economic spheres (Warmoth).
Humanistic psychology without doubt asserted substantial impact on American society (Warmoth, 1998). It spurred and supported values of self-awareness, self-esteem, self-actualization and more effective interpersonal communication and relationships. It is an earnest endeavor at re-constructing a damaged self-image, resulting from experiences of alienation and discrimination in industrial society. Restructuring of society continues into postmodern and post-industrial times into new forms. Humanistic social science has a lot to contribute in these periods. There is urgent need for it in educational institutions. Easy adaptation to academic marginality, however, may inhibit the initiative to effectively influencing mainstream society (Warmoth).
Summary and Implications
In their pursuit of the study of the human mind, psychologists found a void among existing approaches and filled that void with the Third Force. It focuses on the person and his potentials and views these in an alternate and positive light. He has unconditional inner worth and is capable of happiness from an understanding and acceptance of himself. This was the concept contributed by Carl Rogers in his person-centered approach. Abraham Maslow, on the other hand, suggested that the human mind instinctively seeks its ultimate fulfillment of an ordered hierarchy of needs. A delay or omission of any stage results in a mental disorder. The hierarchy begins from physiological basic needs, belongingness, safety, self-esteem and peaks in self-actualization. Attaining self-actualization lifts the person to a higher stage of human development, characterized by great mental and emotional capabilities and skills. That higher stage fulfills his destiny. Rogers' and Maslow's concepts became popular and have proved their worth in the social sciences, especially psychotherapy.
Humanist psychology is credited for recognizing the inherent and indestructible worth of the individual, the power to control his own mental health and the influence of the environment on human experience. It has, however, been criticized for being too subjective and lacking in an objective measure of the individual's inner progress towards self-actualization.
It can survive and expand through further exploratory work on better approaches to understanding the processes of the human mind and the fulfillment of the individual soul. Greater collaboration among similarly-minded theorists, practitioners and researcher can also perpetuate it. Collaboration with the Association of Humanist Sociology can chance upon the relationship between the person, the community and society. It can also decrease marginality and increase diversity. A new concept of deep democracy can likewise spill over the cultural and economic arenas.
This high-technology era is certainly quite different from that of the first industrial revolution. The humanistic social sciences have piled up honorable value-affirming approaches to eliminating obstacles to realizing full potential. The question posed in this "post-modern era" is whether humanist disciplines can crystallize a coherent set of multi-cultural and ecologically sustainable range of values, needed at this time. At the same time, humanist disciplines must be able to address present-day social problems, which society's standard wisdom finds unsolvable. Life has become both more convenient and more complicated. The…