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Lecture 10

PSYC 215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Personality Psychology, Erich Fromm, Behaviorism

Course Code
PSYC 215
John Lydon

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Humanistic psychology tends to look beyond the medical model of psychology in order to open
up a nonpathologizing view of the person. This usually implies that the therapist downplays the
pathological aspects of a person's life in favour of the healthy aspects. A key ingredient in this
approach is the meeting between therapist and client and the possibilities for dialogue. The aim
of much humanistic therapy is to help the client approach a stronger and more healthy sense of
self, also called self-actualization. All this is part of humanistic psychology's motivation to be a
science of human experience, focusing on the actual lived experience of persons. The role of the
therapist is to create an environment where the client can freely express any thoughts or feelings.
In this form of psychology the therapist cannot suggest topics for conversation nor can he guide
the conversation in any way. The therapist also can not analyze or interpret the client’s behavior
or any information the client shares. The role of the therapist is to provide empathy and to listen
attentively to the client. The therapist works to understand how the client feels.
Although social transformation may not have been the primary focus in the past, a large
percentage of contemporary humanistic psychologists currently investigate pressing social,
cultural, and gender issues. Even the earliest writers who were associated with and inspired
psychological humanism explored topics as diverse as the political nature of "normal" and
everyday experience (RD Laing), the disintegration of the capacity to love in modern
consumerist society (Erich Fromm), the growing technological dominance over human life
(Medard Boss), and the question of evil (Rollo May-Carl Rogers debate). In addition, Maureen
O’Hara, who worked with both Carl Rogers and Paolo Freire, has pointed to a convergence
between the two thinkers given their distinct but mutually related focus on developing critical
consciousness of situations which oppress and dehumanize. Humanistic psychology is
considered also the main theoretical and methodological source of the humanistic social work.
After psychotherapy, social work is the most important beneficiary of the humanistic
psychology's theory and methodology. These have produced a deep reform of the modern social
work theory and practice, leading, among others, to the occurrence of a particular theory and
methodology: the humanistic social work. Most values and principles of the humanistic social
work practice, described by Malcolm Payne in his book Humanistic Social Work: Core
Principles in Practice, namely creativity in human life and practice, developing self and
spirituality, developing security and resilience, accountability, flexibility and complexity in
human life and practice, directly originate from the humanistic psychological theory and
humanistic psychotherapy practice. Also, the representation and approach of the client
(as human being) and social issue (as humanissue) in social work is made from the humanistic
psychology position. According to Petru Stefaroi, the way, humanistic, of representation and
approach the client and his personality represent, in fact, the theoretical-axiological and
methodological foundation of humanistic social work. In setting goals and the intervention
activities, in order to solve social/human problems, there prevail critical terms and categories of
the humanistic psychology and psychotherapy, such as: self-actualization, human potential,
holistic approach, human being, free will, subjectivity, human experience, self-
determination/development, spirituality, creativity, positive thinking, client-centered and
context-centered approach, empathy, personal growth, empowerment.
Cognitive psychology is one of the more recent additions to psychological research, having only
developed as a separate area within the discipline since the late 1950s and early 1960s following
the "cognitive revolution" initiated by Noam Chomsky's 1959 critique of behaviorism and
empiricism more generally. The origins of cognitive thinking such as computational theory of
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