Humanistic Psychology - History, Philosophy and Methodology...

Humanistic Psychology

Humanistic psychology is a research program that became popular in the 1960s. Its main principles were formulated by J. Bugenthal and adapted to the present by T. Greening.

1. Man as an integral being exceeds the sum of its components.

2. Human existence unfolds in the context of human relations, as well as cosmic ecology.

3. A person recognizes himself and knows that he is a conscious being. Human consciousness is always a self-awareness of itself in the context of relationships with other people.

4. A person independently makes his choice and, therefore, is responsible.

5. A person is intentional, i.e. achieves the realization of goals and aspirations, knows that they determine future events and is engaged in the search for meanings, values ​​and creativity.

The first position is clearly borrowed in Gestalt psychologists. Its possible source could also be hermeneutics. But representatives of humanistic psychology rarely mentioned hermeneutics as their predecessors.

The meaning of the second provision is that psychology is unconditionally rejected from the natural sciences and is translated into the category of axiological disciplines. This step is worthy of approval.

In the third position, the concept of consciousness is completely rehabilitated. It particularly clearly proclaims the confrontation of humanistic psychology with Freudianism and behaviorism. In addition, attention is drawn to the social character of consciousness. It is not ruled out that the influence of Marxism was not without effect.

The fourth position is borrowed directly from the existentialism of K. Jaspers and J.-P. Sartre.

The position of intentionality is taken from phenomenologists. After all, it was the phenomenologist E. Husserl who introduced him into philosophy. The search for meanings and values ​​is ethical.

Their accent is secondary to the preference that representatives of humanistic philosophy give to consciousness.

Of course, psychologists should have decided on a certain set of values. In this regard, they identified such values ​​as self-actualization of the individual, its integrity, creativity, love, freedom and responsibility. These values ​​are often called supreme, opposing them, for example, physiological values. A. Maslow, along with K. Rogers, who is a classic of humanistic philosophy, called such values ​​the values ​​of being, or abbreviated B-values. The list of values ​​of A. Maslow's existence turned out to be quite extensive. It included: 1) integrity; 2) perfection; 3) completion of acts; 4) justice; 5) vitality; 6) diversity; 7) simplicity; 8) beauty; 9) good; 10) uniqueness; 11) grace; 12) playfulness; 13) truth; 14) self-sufficiency.

The extremely popular Maslow value pyramid includes: 1) physiological needs; 2) the need for security; 3) the need for belonging to a social group of people; 4) the need for social recognition and, finally, 5) the need for self-actualization. It is the value of self-actualization of the individual that is recognized as the highest. The thinking of man is not ignored, but it falls into the shadow of higher values. It is easy to see that Maslow sought to include in psychology all the values ​​known to him. There is an original form of psychologism: psychology is understood as universal axiologicalism. Too many values!

The second classic of humanistic psychology, K. Rogers was more specific than A. Maslow. He became famous for his client-centered psychotherapy. The meaning of the activity of the therapist is that it improves the patient's condition. And this means that he improves his theory of self-understanding, seeking ultimately to relieve tension, inconsistency of the patient's emotions and his ideas about himself. There is an obvious alternative to psychoanalytic therapy. Critics of Rogers accused him of ennoblement of a person incompatible with the assessment of clearly destructive personalities. Nevertheless, all recognized that in the history of US psychotherapy there was no more successful specialist than K. Rogers.

Humanistic psychology, which has been most developed in the US, was viewed as a third force capable of surpassing the shortcomings of psychoanalysis and behaviorism. American representatives of humanistic psychology, brought up on the traditions of experimentalism, found themselves in a difficult methodological situation. They stressed that the method of psychology is different than that of natural science. The integrity of human existence in general does not lend itself to experimental study. However, fortunately, they did not abandon the experimental method, in particular, conducting various kinds of testing. Strictly speaking, humanistic psychologists did not abandon the scientific method. They denied the applicability in the field of psychology of the methodology of natural science. Here they were right. Another thing is that they did not pay due attention to the phenomenon and characteristics of axiological sciences.

It is widely believed that the philosophical basis of humanistic psychology was the phenomenology of E. Husserl, as well as existentialism in its two variants, including, on the one hand, the existentialism of consciousness (read: free choice - VK) K. Jaspers and J.-P. Sartre, on the other hand - the existentialism of the existence of M. Heidegger. It is difficult to challenge this position. Nevertheless, it seems questionable. All the philosophers listed in this paragraph were not any noticeable experts of the experimental method, which should be used according to the views of psychologists of the humanistic direction.

In our opinion, the main innovation of representatives of humanistic philosophy was an attempt to fundamentally revise the content of psychological concepts, giving priority to the freedom and identity of the individual. But on this way they met with considerable difficulties. To reveal their essence, let us turn, for example, to the value of freedom. The concept of freedom is native to political science and sociology. Is it right to focus on it as a psychological concept? It seems that it is legitimate, but it is necessary to clearly define the difference between psychological freedom and political or sociological freedom. In our opinion, psychologists study the phenomenon of freedom in a fundamentally different way than political scientists and sociologists, namely, in the context of individual characteristics of people. This is possible, but only in case of direct treatment to interdisciplinary relations.

We have to admit that humanistic psychology is not properly clarified in the meta-scientific way. Every now and then, and in a negative sense, the known disregard of scientific methodology makes itself felt. She clearly lacks detail. The desire to cultivate sublime ideals deserves undoubted approval, but it needs to be detailed.

Two main trends of humanistic psychology, which led to the emergence, on the one hand, of transpersonal psychology and integrative psychology, on the other, are indicative. In the first case, they try to determine the spiritual and transcendental bases of consciousness, the very possibility of studying which causes, as evidenced by the history of psychoanalysis, doubts. In the second case, the idea of ​​the integrity of the personality is sublimated. At the same time they refuse to understand the whole as a relationship between its parts, which again leads to the impossibility of verifying the findings. It is the insufficiently accented attitude of representatives of humanistic philosophy to science and metascience leads to their defeat in a dispute with representatives of cognitive philosophy.

Seal of duality also noted the attitude of representatives of humanistic psychology to philosophy. We did not manage to find any work in which their project of synthesis of achievements of various philosophical directions was cleared up. Clearly there is a well-known philosophical "omnivorousness". It is interesting that American humanist psychologists treated European continental philosophy with exceptional attention, which even professional American philosophers showed infrequently.


1. Humanistic psychology has become a critical response to psychoanalysis and behaviorism.

2. There was a rehabilitation of a man as an initially conscious being guided by his own values.

3. Humanistic psychology is characterized by an attitude toward science, marked by a seal of duality. On the one hand, the fundamental difference between psychology and the natural sciences is legitimately asserted. On the other hand, the conceptual structure of psychology as an axiological science is not given proper attention.

4. A welcome interest in high values ​​is not complemented by due attention to detail. Such a shortcoming can be called "principleism."

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