Episode #5 of the course “Influential Psychologists Throughout History”
Carl Rogers was a humanistic psychologist. His research focus was on relationships and developing healthy personalities. He argued that a person can only “grow” when they are in environments that have acceptance, genuineness, and empathy. Without this foundation, a healthy mental state is much more unlikely.
Rogers rejected psychoanalysis and behaviorism ideals, arguing that we are in the best position to understand why we do things or why we think a certain way. He argued that fulfilling one’s potential is a human’s one basic motive to do anything. This is referred to as self-actualization. Self-actualization is achieved when the individual’s vision of their ideal self and their actual self are in line with one another.
He called those who achieve self-actualization “fully functioning persons.” Nonetheless, he recognized that achieving this status may be more of an everlasting goal than something that actually occurs. A “fully functioning person,” according to Rogers, is open to experience, is in touch with the varying experiences in their lives, trusts their feelings, is creative, and lives a fulfilled and happy life. These people are often high achievers in society. They are well-balanced, interesting, and well-adjusted generally. Some argue that this person is a manifestation of Western ideals, particularly because of the focus on the individual instead of the betterment of a group.
Rogers believed that as long as the environment was favorable, people could reach their full potential and self-actualize. However, reaching someone’s “full potential” means varying degrees of success and development. Because of our personalities and inherent skills, we will each develop differently. That also means that each person’s vision of their “ideal self” is different.
Rogers also believed that people are inherently good and creative. The only reason that destructive or negative behavior arises is because the individual has a poor self-concept or their environment promotes these negative behaviors.
Rogers’ work on self-actualization is frequently used in the workplace to encourage work-related self-improvement. As one of the first humanistic psychologists, he pushed those following his footsteps to analyze the individual and consider their inner motivations and overall emotional challenges to aid development.
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