The Founders of Humanistic Psychology

The Founders of Humanistic Psychology

The Founders of Humanistic Psychology

The Founders of Humanistic Psychology

Synopsis

DeCarvalho narrates the institutionalization of the humanistic current in American psychology and places the thinking of five of its founders in the context of 20th century psychology. This intellectual history includes chronological bibliographies of the five founders: Gordon Allport, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Rollo May, and James Bugental. The book examines their revolt against behaviorism and psychoanalysis, and explains the impact that the neo-Freudians, existentialism, Kurt Goldstein, personality, and Gestalt psychologies had on the conceptualization of their humanistic psychologies.

Excerpt

Psychological theories have reflected external and internal realities in various ways. Freudian psychoanalysis was influenced by "energy" models predominant at the time, and Freud's model of the psyche resembled a hydraulic pump supplying (or denying) libido for various human activities. Watsonian behaviorism presented a model resembling a slot machine; an external stimulus produced an output, and the inner workings of the machine were disregarded. It is not a simple matter to present a single model of humanistic psychology because each theory reflects the background and interests of its author. As a result, it is more appropriate to refer to the "humanistic psychologies" and consider each of them separately.

This is the procedure followed by Roy DeCarvalho in this book. His remarkable historical analysis reveals that humanistic psychology had no single founder. As a result, he focuses on five prominent individuals and traces the roots of their models, emphasizing such diverse origins as European existentialism and phenomenology, American pragmatism, and the Gestalt and organismic theorists. However, the humanistic psychologies have made unique contributions as well, emphasizing the importance of values, ethics, creativity, human potentials, and goal-direction or intent. Indeed, Charlotte Buhler once defined humanistic psychology as "the scientific study of behavior, experience, and intentionality."

The models of human nature discussed in this book can all be subsumed by Buhler's definition. However, there are unique emphases and distinctions. Gordon W. Allport opposed using natural science prototypes to describe human beings, preferring to study individuals and their differences in terms of traits. One can imagine a prism composed of these traits--but a prism that is constantly developing and changing, a prism different from all others in the world, a prism that constantly interacts with its environment--hence producing a continuing . . .

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