Humanism as Ideological Rebellion: Deconstructing the Dualisms of Contemporary Mental Health Culture

By Hansen, James T. | Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Humanism as Ideological Rebellion: Deconstructing the Dualisms of Contemporary Mental Health Culture


Hansen, James T., Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development


Humanistic thought has been oppressed by the dominant forces of contemporary mental health culture. The author argues that the rebellious essence of humanism must be incited to counter these reductive ideologies that have monopolized our times. A critical appraisal of the philosophical dualisms that support the prevailing mechanistic vision of human nature is elaborated, and the implications of this critique for a renewed humanistic rebellion are discussed.

**********

Humanistic theory has many unique features, such as free will, holism, and personal growth, that differentiate it from other counseling orientations (Davidson, 2000; Halling & Nill, 1995; Hansen, 2005a; Matson, 1971; Sass, 1989). Arguably, however, there is another inherent characteristic of humanism that makes it somewhat distinct from competing theoretical systems. This unique feature is not a core assumption of humanistic ideology, but the spirit that propelled humanism to the center of the counseling profession during the mid-20th century. This underlying spirit, I contend, is the essentially rebellious nature of the humanistic movement.

Historically, humanism emerged as a theoretical protest against reductive ideologies (Matson, 1971). Maverick theorists, such as Rogers (1951) and Maslow (1968), rejected psychoanalysis and behaviorism, the dominant counseling orientations of the time, because of the reductive nature of these orientations. Rather than reducing persons to stimulus-response contingencies or psychic structures, humanism, or third force psychology, advocated that the total, unreduced person should be appreciated and encountered during the counseling process (Hansen, 2005a). This position represented a strong rebellious stance against the dominant scientific-reductive ideologies of the time.

As humanism became a mainstream orientation, this rebellious essence gradually faded and became less of a central feature of humanistic identity. Humanism, once a defiant underground movement, became a core counseling orientation. However, I maintain that contemporary mental health culture desperately needs to revive the rebellious core of humanism for at least two reasons. First, modern mental health culture has become increasingly dominated by ideologies that are antithetical to humanism, such as descriptive diagnostics (Hansen, 2003), biological psychiatry (Barney, 1994; Chodoff, 2002; Hansen, in press-b), and empirically supported treatments (Chambless & Hollon, 1998). Therefore, the current mental health zeitgeist bears a strong resemblance to the conditions that originally gave rise to humanism. Second, many of the original arguments made by humanistic theorists half a century ago have been fortified by recent advances in counseling theory and philosophy. Humanists now have a much stronger intellectual foundation on which to launch a rebellion than they did during the mid-20th century when third force psychology first emerged. Unfortunately, however, these philosophical and theoretical insights have generally not been integrated into humanistic thought.

The purpose of this article, then, is to integrate intellectual insights that have occurred since the original humanistic revolution into modern day humanism in order to provide a solid intellectual foundation for the rebellious essence of humanistic thought to reemerge in contemporary mental health culture. Because the original humanistic revolution was staged in the context of particular philosophical dualisms, these dualisms are revisited in light of conceptual advances that have been made in the latter part of the 20th century. To accomplish these goals, this article is organized according to the following structure: evolution of mental health culture, deconstructing philosophical dualisms, discussion and conclusions.

EVOLUTION OF MENTAL HEALTH CULTURE

For centuries, dating back to the establishment of the first "insane asylums" in the United States, mental health culture has alternated between psychosocial and biologically based understandings of psychological suffering (Shorter, 1997). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Humanism as Ideological Rebellion: Deconstructing the Dualisms of Contemporary Mental Health Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.