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Chapter 13

Chapter 13- Humanists Summary

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYCH 2B03
Professor
Richard B Day
Semester
Winter

Description
CHAPTER 13: Experience, Existence and the Meaning of Life: Humanistic and Positive Psychology -object of psychological scrutiny can also scrutinize -psychologists are eager to be like ‘real scientists’ and sometimes are accused of feeling ‘physics envy’ -goal of humanistic psychology is to overcome this paradox (objectively studying human nature) by acknowledging and addressing the ways in which the field of psychology is unique -humanists argue the mind is much more than an organ or molecules -the human mind is aware; it knows it is being studied and has opinions about itself -two implications: a) psych needs to address this unique awareness and b) self-awareness brings to the fore many uniquely human phenomena that do not arise arise when the object of study isn’t aware: will power, reflective thinking, imagination, introspection, self-criticism, aspirations, creativity, happiness, and free will -humanists examine all these qualities: they want to understand free will, happiness, etc -but what is free will/happiness/the meaning of life? Phenomenology: Awareness is Everything Phenomenology: a person’s conscious world, and is more psychologically important than reality. -from a phenomenological viewpoint, you only exist in your consciousness! -a broader reality might exist, but the only part of it that you perceive (or invent) will ever matter to you -the realization that only your present experience matters is the basis of free will; you are here now and can choose what to think, feel, and do -‘if you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment’ Construal: your particular experience of the world. -forms the basis of how you live your life (goals, obstacles and opportunities you perceive) -by choosing your construal world (deciding how to interpret your experience) you can achieve free will (leave this choice to others, lose your autonomy) -implies that psychology should study this Introspection: method used by WIlhem Wundt, first psychology laboratory founded, in which people (his RAs) tried to observe their own perceptions and thought processes. Existentialism -broad philosophical movement that began in Europe in the mid 1800’s -Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietsche, Marin Heidegger, Ludwig Binwanger, Medard Boss, and Jean-Paul Sartre -they thought that industrial revolution and rationalism has gone too far in its attempt to account for everything: thought science and rational philosophy has lost touch with the human experience -purpose of existential philosophy was to regain contact with the experience of being alive and aware -concrete and specific experience of a human being existing at a particular moment in time and space -key existential questions: what is the nature of existence? How does it feel? What does it mean? The Three Parts of Experience -conscious experience of being alive has three components a) Umwelt (biological experience): sensations you feel by virtue of being a biological organism (pain, heat, pleasure, and all bodily sensations)umwelt is the experience b) MItwelt (social experience): what you think and feel as a social being, emotions, thoughts about others, perceived thoughts about you by others. Think about someone you love, hate, or admire: the experience is mitwelt c) Eigenwelt (inner psychological experience): the experience of experience; how you feel and think when you try to understand yourself, your own mind, and your own existence -introspection; watch yourself feel or think and analyze Throw-ness and Angst Throw-ness (Geworfenheit): the time, place, and circumstances into which you happened to be born -your experience depends on this; whether you were thrown into a medieval servant society, Colonial English society, or the Bronx -from an existential perspective, being thrown into current situation (21 Ce industrialized society) is particularly difficult -the world seems to have no overarching purpose or meaning -religion plays a particularly small role, lack of new institutions to answer questions: 1. Why am I here? 2. What should I be doing? -no answers except the ones you give yourself -failure to answer these leads to anxiety about the meaning of life and whether you are spending yours the right way Angst: unpleasant feelings associated with worrying about wasting your single life experience is called (aka existential anxiety) -can be divided into 3 separate sensations: anguish, forlornness, and despair Anguish: every human feels anguish because choices, though inevitable, always have an advantage and a disadvantage they are never perfect, and therefore trade-offs and emotion are impossible to avoid Forlorn: no escape from existential solitude (you alone make your choices and pay the price); you are alone with your existential choices. Despair: acknowledging that many of the most important outcomes in life are beyond your control (yours and loved ones’ fates); feeling the despair that comes from that consideration/realization -this only increases your responsibility to change the things you can! Bad Faith -what can we do about angst and co? -face them directly! Moral imperative to realize mortality and meaningless of life and seek purpose for your existence nonetheless! -requires existential courage, or what Sartre called optimistic toughness -another way: ignore problem -do not try to think for yourself; be slave to society -lead the unexamined life existentialists call this living in bad faith -common response, but has three issues 1. To ignore these troubling facts of existence is to live a cowardly lie; immoral and amounts to selling your soul for comfort; you are giving your life experience up, may as well be a rock -alive-and-aware mud, not just regular mud -tragedy that so many people never realize their luck 2. Even if you mange to ignore troubling existential issues by surrounding yourself with material comforts, you still won’t be happy 3. This ‘ostrich’ approach is impossible; by not choosing, you are making a choice; no escape from existential dilemma! Authentic Existence -preferred alternative to bad faith -face the facts! I am mortal, life is short, I am in control of everything else -takes courage (Nietzsche did this, and died in an insane asylum) -Sartre said existentialism’s challenge is to do what you can to better human’s experience, even if life has no meaning -believe in asking what the world wants, what can I do for others The Eastern Alternative -seems gloomy; harps on individual isolation, mortality, and difficulty of finding meaning in life -existentialism is very Western: centers on the individual at a specific moment in time (present) -claims all else is an illusion -Eastern ideas (most of the world) fundamentally disagree: e.g. the Zen Buddhists say Anatta (‘non-self’), and the idea of a self that exists for more than a split second is an illusion -no unchanging soul, just a momentary coming together of all social setting/physiology/environmental influences, that in the next moment is gone -Buddhists suggest everyone is connected, ideas of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ are harmful -you are immortal, part of something greater, and have a defined rol Anicca: nothing lasts forever, best to accept instead of fighting it -if you can truly let go of your me and appreciate everyone is interconnected, you are enlightened; manifested by caring for others the same as yourself, which leads to universal compassion: this is the essence of wisdom and leads to a serene, selfless state called nirvana Optimistic Humanism: Rogers and Maslow -America has a reputation of being a melting pot -two Americans mixed less isolated Eastern view with European existential philosophy, make an optimistic philosophy of life -Rogers and Maslow -began with standard existential assumptions that phenomenology is central and that people have free will, and then added another crucial idea: people are basically good -they want to have relationships, improve themselves and the world -this is an assumption; a belief shared by the humanists, basis for theory like many other assumptions Self-Actualization: Rogers -he proposed ‘the organism (person) has one basic tendency and striving – to actualize, maintain, and enhave the experiencing organism (itself)’ -a person can be understood only from the perspective of her phenomenal field (the entire panorama of conscious experience) -mental experiences (conscious/unconscious, memories, hopes, and so on) combine in different ways at each moment of a person’s life -similar to phenomenological stuff from before, but Rogers added self-actualization -the need to actualize is to maintain and enhance life (similar to Freud’s libido) -goal of existence is to satisfy this need The Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow -begins with same basic assumption: a person’s ultimate need or motive is to self-actualize -Maslow claims this only happens if a person’s basic needs are met -characterized by a hierarchy of needs 1. Physiological needs: food, water, shelter. 2. Sex, security, comfort 3. Meaningful relationships/social belonging and activity 4. Prestige and money 5. Self Actualization -only when the one above is mostly met do you start getting the ones above -someone who is living in poverty is only concerned with that (this differs from existentialism) -really applicable to employee motivation and career choices: what do you want from life? -you can take levels for granted if you’ve always had them in your life -often applied to issues of employee motivation: workers are expensive, you want them doing their best work -bosses need to understand: a) Employees will not show initiative and imagination unless they feel secure b) Employees who feel secure want something besides more money; they want to express themselves through their work by identifying with the organization’s goals and contributing to them -can be used to describe people in different countries/cultures: in poorer nations, money is associated with happiness much more so than in richer countries, when the rich have money they can prioritize emotional needs and interpersonal relationships The Fully Functioning Person -perceive the world without neurotic distortion, take responsibility for your actions, then you can become a fully-functioning person: lives an authentic existence (according to existentialists) and is happy! -they face the world without fear, self-doubt, or neurotic defences -only possible if you have had unconditional positive regard from the important people in your life, especially during childhood (Maslow said anyone could do this) -however, if you feel that other people only value you if you are smart/attractive/successful/perfect, then according to Rogers you will develop conditions of worth -they limit your freedom to act and think -you may have distorted self-perception based on these, and may only act in a way you feel fulfills these, not how you truly want to act -this takes away from your realistic view of the world, choose freely, and take responsibility for your actions -a person who has experienced unconditional positive regard from parents and other important people in life does not develop such conditions of worthshe is confident in her choices, chooses the right thing, trusts her judgement -lives her life with emtotion, self-discovery, and is reflective, spontaneous, flexible, adaptable, confident, trusting, creative, self-reliant, ethical, open-minded, etc. -more understanding and accepting of other individuals Psychotherapy -goal of Rogerian therapy and humanistic psychotherapy in general is to help the client become a fully-functioning individual -develop a genuine and caring relationship with the client; give them unconditional positive regard -although it is sometimes made fun of (never judge client?) but Rogers’ view is that the therapist 1) helps the client perceive his own thoughts and feelings without the therapist seeking to change them in any way and 2) make the client feel appreciated no matter what -removes conditions of worth, helps the person become fully-functioning -takes a ton of patience and courage from therapist -results? Rogers and them tried to scientifically quantify effects of therapy -they measured how close their real was to the actual after therapy, was better-ish -critics say: clients’ views of ideal person changes just as much as they change themselves -also, describing yourself as being very close to how you’d like to be doesn’t always demonstrate mental well-being (paranoid schizo
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