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Lecture 9

PSY230H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Noumenon, Abraham Maslow, Edmund Husserl


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY230H1
Professor
Maja Djikic
Lecture
9

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PSY230H1F L9; Nov. 9, 2011
Humanism
Based on philosophy of phenomenology
Cognitive = 4th way to think about
psychologically; humanism = 3rd way
Background
Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)
Father of phenomenology
Kant originally distinguished between the
noumena (what something is in itself,
independent of our sensations of it; ex. see
something that exists ) and phenomena (our
sensory knowledge of things or actions in
the external world – things we experience;
ex. know and agree that something is a
chair)
Though he believed that noumenal reality
exists, Kant argued that we can never know
such “Things in themselves” directly, and
that, in fact, our mind through its categories
of the understanding frames-in the meaning
of the noumenal world for us.
Gained through ntersubjectivity
The only way for a science of psychology
to understand anything is through the
person’s subjective point of view
Nothing can be considered real, unless
there is an agreement reached
phenomenally by a number of subjective
people
Problem: ex. dreams (you are only
person experiencing it)
Need a new language of description as well as
new method of scientific investigation if to
capture distinctively human, non-mechanistic
course of action
Not introspection, because introspective
psychologists assumed they were studying real
or noumenal processes
Phenomenology focuses exclusively on the
phenomenal aspects of experience, that
include the essence of meaning (which lies
in phenomenal, not noumenal, field of
experience); ex. agree something is a chair
so similar meaning to humans
To mean something: to translate as, to intend to
as my goal
Meaning system inextricably linked to our
sets of goals & values
Can agree about meanings when we have
similar values
Ex. eat food of reasonable sizes; interact w
beings our size bacteria now have
meaning since have microscopes
What can phenomenology teach us?
It seeks to clarify how we become conscious
of related events in experience – feels real
but isn’t real, is just an interpretation within
the person of the real thing
Transcendental phenomenology
Human beings are able to reflexively
study their own mind as a process – can
think about how we think – transcends
1st level of thinking
Otto Rank (1884 – 1939)
Generally considered one of Freud’s most
talented & important coworkers – left, disagreed
about how to help a person
Social worker not physician
Each person continually creates his or her reality
Outlook was colored by necessity for human
beings to express own will, to be independent
persons
Freud discouraged this among colleagues &
patients; interpreted as resistant
Quite influential in the area of social work,
promoted the functional school (as opposed to
the diagnostic school) of social case work
Take dynamic approach to the client,
relatively short-term therapy contact, effect
a cure by helping the client to exert his or
her own will in assuming responsibility for
life actions – enable client
Not by imposing the social worker’s
interpretation of the problem
Diagnosis or problem definition is secondary to
actual change in living
Not trying to confirm predictions about
theory like Freud, Freud was more about
himself than the patient
Purpose of psychotherapy
The therapy relationship is for the client and
NOT the therapist
“In each separate case inecessary to create
a theory & technique made for the occasion
w/o trying to carry over this individual
solution to next case.” – develop unique
theory for each person
Technical jargon shunned – no use,
irritate/confuse client
Spontaneity & uniqueness of therapeutic
relationship = precious aspect of therapy ,
what cures – rather than the fanciful, high-
blown theories of therapist
Content doesn’t matter, so dif types of
therapy work best for dif ppl, no best
type, choose therapist that suits them
What is the central problem facing a neurotic?
Learning how to express personal will &
thereby take command of own life
Dependent person will enter therapeutic
relationship by submitting himself to will of
therapist
Resistance of client to theoretical
explanations of therapist seen as sign of
successful therapy (unlike Freud; ex. Dora –
took revenge for leaving)

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One of 1st psychoanalysts who advocated setting
termination date for therapy
Tells client have limited sessions so takes
responsibility, motivated to maximize
treatment effect
Patient knows has to help self
Host of short-term therapies have evolved
from this general approach (ex. extreme 5
min therapy)
Saw therapy termination as rebirth – can take
care of self
Maslow and Rogers thought of a person as w
potential, particularly Maslow
Maslow: what kind of tree could you become
Rogers: what prevents you from becoming that
tree, how can you get rid of these obstacles
Focus on potential unique to you
Realized studying troubled ppl affects theories
Abraham Maslow
Biographical outline:
Born in New York, eldest of 7 children
Isolated, taunted, friendless, lonely
“W my childhood, it’s a wonder I’m not a
psychotic.”
Mother favored younger brothers, punished
Maslow least provocation
Afraid of father
Had uncle who spent great deal of time w him &
contributed to mental stability
So need just 1 person in envt who
encourages you & isn’t psychotic
Ex. kids in same family – dif friends, dif
teachers; enough to significantly reconstruct
lives, change paths
Started in behaviorism, became influenced by
Fromm, Horney, Adler, Benedict, Hull, etc.
Exodus from WWII, mainly ppl
psychologically affected in Europe
Personal experiences also led away from
behaviorism
“When my baby born was thunderclap that
settled things. Looked at this tiny,
mysterious thing & felt so stupid. Stunned
by mystery & sense of not rly being in
control. I felt small & weak & feeble before
all this. Anyone who had a baby couldn’t be
a behaviorist.”
Baby too hard to understand w behaviourism
What about the healthy personality?
Criticized both psychoanalysis & radical
behaviorism
Focused on positive side of human nature
Each person has seed that can grow into
grew
Precursor of ‘positive psychology’ – particularly
Maslow
Focused on rare persons on the verge of, or
already achieved psychological health
This state of exemplary personal development
as = ‘self-actualization’
Also non-representative - but still serving as
corrective to long history of focusing on
psychopathology
Not everyone is healthy
“Health not simply absence of disease or
even opposite of it. Any theory of
motivation worthy of attention must deal w
highest capacities of healthy & strong man
as well as w defensive maneuvers of
crippled spirits”(1970, p.33)
Healthy personality - possesses sufficient
personal fortitude + creativity to be
spontaneous & innocent
Innocence
Healthy personality’s capacity to live w/o
pretense, to be selflessly focused on
creative goal
Don’t have to contend to other ppl about
who you are
Creative, innocent, & healthy people are
able to free themselves from distractions,
fears, & petty influences imposed by other
people, to become more completely
themselves, authentic, & less influenced by
a need to placate others - free from
preventative forces of being self
“dropping masks, dropping efforts to
influence, to impress, to please, to be
lovable, to win applause. It could be
said so: if have no audience to play to,
cease to be actors. W no need to act we
can devote ourselves, self-forgetfully, to
the problem” (1971, p.65).
But too hard to move away from all
social interaction, still have a way of
being and image of who you think you
should be
In becoming more our real selves & less the
persons we expect others want us to be,
approach closer to potential
“In pursuit of angels”: Maslow’s study of
exceptional people
Maslow reported personal sources of his interest
in self-actualizing personality - teachers
“… started out as effort of a young
intellectual to try to understand two of his
teachers whom he loved, adored,& admired
and who were very, very wonderful people…
Ruth Benedict [anthropologist] and Max
Wertheimer [one of the founders of gestalt
psychology]…They were my teachers… &
they were most remarkable human beings…
I tried to see whether this pattern could be
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found elsewhere & I did find it elsewhere, in
one person after another.”(1971,p.41-42)
Not doing what you say to do can affect you;
look at own ideas as objective and keep in
mind effect of who you’re acting like
W time, Maslow developed a defn of self-
actualizing person:
…[self-actualization] may be loosely
described as full use & exploitation of
talents, capacities, potentialities, etc. Such
ppl seem to be fulfilling selves & be doing
best capable of doing, reminding of
Nietzche’s exhortation “Become what thou
art!” (1970, p.150)
Continually being challenged, full of joy
about occupation
Can be happy about any goal, can pick
goals that give joy (whether or not good
at it) at boundary of potential
Sought out historical figures & some
contemporary ones to find extraordinary self-
actualized indivs…overall 37 (included Goethe,
Washington, Emerson, Aldous Huxley, Einstein,
Lincoln, Jefferson)
Also interviewed >3,000 indivs, considered only
a “handful” to have potential for self-
actualization
Characteristics of Self-Actualizers
Awareness
Efficient and accurate perception of reality
Gives demarcation of what looks like if
like that, doesn’t make you like them if
do things they do
Ex. Using same pen as famous writer
won’t make you write better
Respond to world as it is, to yourself as
you are
Continued freshness of appreciation w/o
preconceptions
Cognitive mind understands dif btwn dif
classes, see dynamic; realize not same
as an hr ago
Tendency to have peak experiences
Clear ethical awareness and standards but
not necessarily conventional ones (not what
society says)
Honesty
Philosophical sense of humor – pokes fun at
shared human pretensions
Deep feeling of kinship with all humanity
Don’t feel separate or too special
Selective & deep interpersonal relations with
small circle of intimates
Democratic character structure accepting of
all people
Freedom
Detachment and need for privacy
Privacy during creativity
Autonomous and independent of culture and
environment
Provides context for what you’re doing it,
you drive culture, culture doesn’t drive
you
Creativeness characterizing whatever they
do
Spontaneity, simplicity, and naturalness
Trust
Problem- rather than self-centered
Solve problems that other ppl might not
be able to
Acceptance of self, others, & nature for what
they are
Resistance to cultural conformity
Imperfections
Silly, wasteful, thoughtless habits
Ruthless & angry
Often if prevented from what think shud
be doing
Absentminded, humorless, impolite
Overkindliness
Much easier to take advantage of
Vanity
Treated to feel special rather than
unique
Boring or irritating
Forget your passions are not everyone’s
Peak experiences
Self-actualized persons are “fulfilling themselves
& doing the best that they are capable of
doing.”
Prone to ‘peak experiences’
An intensification of experience to pt of self-
transcendence (self-projecting, meta,
looking at self as are vs observing)
‘moments of self-actualization
“… look, this is the real you & how you
can be when functioning fully w your
highest potential.”
“… looks more integrated, less split btwn
experiencing the self & observing self,
more one-pointed, more harmoniously
organized, more efficiently organized…”
(1968, p.104)
Personality & personal identity during
peak experience
Consciousness (increased, clear, disoriented
in time & space, mindfulness of self & world)
Memory (intact clear, accurate, continuity)
Identity (integrated, identity-enhancing
experience)
Perception of environment (holistic, rich,
lucid, here-now, fresh)
Time/space perception (loss of time
perception but lucid memory for events)
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