Section 1: Introduction to Humanistic Theory
People are Basically Good
Humanistic Psychology gets its name from its belief in the basic goodness and respect of humankind. Its roots are based in existential psychology or the understanding and acceptance of one’s own existence and responsibility. Two American psychologists, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers paved the way for this new approach to understanding personality and improving the overall satisfaction of individuals.
When conflict between war and peace arose in the early to mid 1960s, so to did the need to understand human nature. Humanistic theory gave us an understandable way to look at man’s need for war for the sake of peace. It is a simplistic theory that has become one of the most popular topics in self-help style books and man’s struggle for meaning has been and will always be a major part of literature and entertainment.
The basic ideas behind humanistic psychology are simple, some may say overly simple. Humanists hold the following beliefs:
- The present is the most important aspect of the person and therefore humanists focus on the here and now rather than looking at the past or trying to predict the future.
- Humanistic theory is reality based and to be psychologically healthy people must take responsibility for themselves, whether the person’s actions are positive or negative.
- The individual, merely by being human, posses an inherent worth. Actions may not be positive but this does not negate the value of the person.
- The goal of life should always be to achieve personal growth and understanding. Only through self-improvement and self-knowledge can one truly be happy.