The Humanist Theory of Personality by Carl Rogers

The Humanist theory of the personality of Carl Rogers Emphasizes the importance of the tendency towards self-realization in the formation of self-concept. According to Rogers the potential of the human individual is unique, and it develops in a unique way depending on the personality of each.

According to Carl Rogers (1959), people want to feel, experience and behave in ways that are consistent with self-image. The closer self-image and the ideal self, the more consistent and congruent people are and the more value they believe they have.

Theory of Personality

Next to Abraham Maslow , Rogers focused on the growth potential of healthy individuals and contributed greatly through the humanist theory of personality to self-understanding (the"self"or"I"in Spanish).

Both Rogers' and Maslow's theories focus on individual choices, and neither holds that biology is deterministic. Both emphasized the free will and self-determination of each individual to become the best person they can become.

Humanistic psychology emphasized the active role of the individual in shaping his inner and outer world. Rogers advanced in this field emphasizing that humans are active and creative beings, who live in the present and respond in a subjective way to the perceptions, relationships and encounters that are currently occurring.

He coined the term"tendency to update", which refers to the basic instinct that people have to reach their maximum capacity. Through counseling or person-centered therapy and scientific research, Rogers formed his theory of personality development.


The Humanist Theory of Personality by Carl Rogers

"The organism has a basic tendency and effort to update itself, to maintain itself and to enrich the experiences of the organism itself"(Rogers, 1951, page 487).

Rogers rejected the deterministic nature of psychoanalysis and behaviorism and asserted that we behave as we do because of the way we perceive our situation:"Since no one else knows how we perceive, we are the most knowledgeable in ourselves."

Carl Rogers Believed that humans have a basic motive, which is the tendency to self-actualize. As a flower that grows and reaches its full potential if the conditions are right but limited by the constraints of the environment, people also bloom and reach their full potential if the conditions around them are good enough.

However, contrary to flowers, the potential of the human individual is unique, and we are destined to develop in different ways depending on our personality.

Rogers believed that people are inherently good and creative, and that they become destructive only when poor self-concept (the image we have of ourselves) or external limitations invalidate the process of reaching the potential.

According to Carl Rogers, in order for a person to achieve self-actualization, he must remain in a state of congruence. This means that self-actualization occurs when the person's"ideal self"(who he would like to become) is congruent with his actual behaviors.

Rogers describes the individual who is being updated as a fully functional person. The main determinant of whether we will become people updated or not are experiences in childhood.

The fully functional person

The Humanist Theory of Personality by Carl Rogers 1

Rogers asserted that all people could achieve their goals and desires in life. When they did, self-actualization had taken place. People who are capable of self-actualization, who do not constitute the totality of humans, are called"fully functional people."

This means that the person has contact with the here and now, their subjective experiences and their feelings, and that is in continuous growth and change.

Rogers saw the fully functional person as an ideal that many people fail to reach. It is not right to think of this as the end of life's journey; It is a process of change.

Rogers identified five characteristics of the fully functional person:

1- Opening the experience

These people accept both positive and negative emotions. The Negative emotions They are not denied, but examined (instead of resorting to self-defense mechanisms). If a person can not open himself to his own feelings, he can not open himself to self-actualization.

2. Existential experience

This consists of being in contact with the different experiences as they occur in life, avoiding prejudice and preconceptions. It includes being able to live and fully appreciate the present, not always looking at the past or the future, since the former is gone and the latter does not even exist.

This does not mean that we should not learn from what happened to us in the past or that we should not plan things for the future. We simply have to recognize that the present is what we have.

3- Confidence in our organism

You have to pay attention and trust in the feelings, instincts and visceral reactions. We must trust in ourselves and do what we believe to be right and to come out naturally. Rogers refers to this with the confidence that we must have in our own self, indispensable to be in touch with self-actualization.

4- Creativity

He creative thinking And the assumption of risks are characteristics of the life of the people. This includes the ability to adjust and change looking for new experiences.

A fully functional person, in contact with the update itself, feels the natural impulse to contribute to the updating of those around him.

This can be done through the creativity In the arts and sciences, through paternal love or, simply, getting to do the best possible job.

5- Experiential Freedom

Fully functional people are satisfied with their lives, as they experience them with a true sense of freedom.

Rogers asserts that the fully functioning person recognizes free will in his or her actions and assumes the responsibilities of the opportunities provided.

For Rogers, the fully functional people are well-adjusted, well-balanced, and interesting to know. Often, these people get great things in society .

The development of personality

The Humanist Theory of Personality by Carl Rogers 2

Similar to Freud's reference to the soul, Rogers identified self-concept as the frame upon which personality develops.

All people have the purpose of seeking congruence (balance) in three areas of their lives. This balance is achieved through self-actualization. These three areas are the self-esteem , The self-image or image of yourself and the ideal Self.

"I think the good life is not a fixed state. It is not, from my point of view, a state of virtue or satisfaction, nirvana or happiness. It is not a condition in which the individual is adjusted or updated. Good life is a process, not a state. It is an address, not a destination. The direction is that which has been selected by the whole organism, the one in which there is psychological freedom to move in any direction"Rogers, 1961

Self-actualization is impossible if these three images, especially the self-image and the ideal Self, do not overlap.

This is called an incongruous view of oneself, and in this case, the role of the therapist would be to transform this vision into a more congruent one, adjusting the person's perception of self-image and self-esteem, as well as constructing A more realistic ideal Self so that it can be more easily achieved.

The process of self-actualization will lead to an increasing overlap between these areas and will contribute to the satisfaction of the person with his or her life.

According to Carl Rogers schemes, each of the three areas has specific tasks. Until a person achieves self-actualization, the three areas will remain out of balance as to how they relate to the world.

Rogers emphasized the fact that, as far as self-actualization is concerned, the personality of each person is unique; There are very few personalities made with the same pattern. Rogers also brought to the therapeutic discussion the idea of ​​a holistic view of people.

Student-centered education

The Humanist Theory of Personality by Carl Rogers 3

Carl Rogers put into practice his experiences with adult therapy in the educational process, developing the concept of student-centered teaching. Rogers developed the following five hypotheses regarding this type of education:

1-"One person can not teach another directly; One person can only facilitate the learning of another"(Rogers, 1951).

This is a result of his theory of personality, which states that everyone exists in a constantly changing world in which he or she is the center. Each person reacts and responds based on their perception and experience.

The central belief of this hypothesis is that what the student does is more important than what the teacher does. In this way, the student's background and experiences are essential in how and what they learn. Each student processes what he or she learns differently.

2-"A person learns only those things that are perceived as related in the maintenance or enrichment of the structure of the self"(Rogers, 1951).

Thus, relevancy to the student is essential for learning. The experiences of the student become the center of the educational course.

3-"The experience which, once assimilated, implies a change in the organization of the self, tends to be resisted through denial or distortion"(Rogers, 1951).

If the content or presentation of a new learning is inconsistent with the information already possessed, the student will learn it if he is open to considering concepts that collide with those he has already learned.

This is vital for learning. In this way, encouraging students to be open-minded helps to engage them with learning. It is also important, for these reasons, that the new information is relevant and related to existing experiences.

4-"The structure and organization of the self seems to be made more rigid if it is under threat and seems to be relaxed if it is completely free of them"(Rogers, 1951).

If students believe they are being forced to learn concepts, they may feel uncomfortable.

If there is a threatening atmosphere in the classroom, it creates a barrier to learning. Thus, an open and friendly environment in which trust is worked is essential in classrooms.

Fear of reprisal for not agreeing with any concept should be eliminated. A supportive classroom environment helps to alleviate fears and encourages students to explore new concepts and beliefs that vary from what they bring to the classroom.

Also, new information can make students' self-concepts feel threatened, but the less vulnerable they are, the more likely they are to open up to the learning process.

5- The educational situation that most effectively promotes meaningful learning is one in which a) the threat to the student's self is reduced to a minimum and b) a differentiated perception of the area is facilitated"(Rogers, 1951).

The instructor should be open to learn from the students and to work to connect the students with the subject of learning.

Frequent interaction with students helps achieve this goal. The instructor should be a mentor who guides rather than an expert who counts. This is imperative for non-forced, student-centered and threat-free learning.

Criticisms of Rogers theory

Carl Rogers' theories have suffered much criticism, both positive and negative. To begin with, related to his person-centered therapy, his conception of human nature is criticized as tending toward goodness and health.

Likewise, in the same way as Maslow's theories, Rogers's were criticized for their lack of empirical evidence. The holistic view of humanism allows for much variation but does not identify variables constant enough to be accurately investigated.

Psychologists have also argued that such an extreme emphasis on the subjective experience of the individual can leave out the impact of society on the development of the individual.

Some critics claim that the fully functional person Rogers speaks of is a product of Western culture. In other cultures, such as the Eastern ones, the achievement of goals by groups is valued much more than the achievement by a single person.

Despite the criticisms he received, Carl Rogers' theory of personality and his therapeutic methodology, continues to gain adherents and have become one of the most influential currents in the history of psychology.

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