Rogers firmly believes in the ability to reach the inner potential that exists in all living organisms,
even plants. Humans possess an additional form - the attempt to actualize the self - called self-actualization. The "self"
in this light means the person's conscious sense of who and what they are. It is available to awareness, although not always
in awareness. An organism gradually emerges through experiences with verbal labels such as "I" or "Me". So, a person's private
perception of reality IS the reality, and there is no "objective reality." A term used for this is Phenomenological Reality.
An example: Experience is the highest authority. If you think you are not good-looking or smart, this is part of your self-
concept regardless of reality.
Rogers’s ideas on development aren’t as black-lined
as the "self" concept, but they include a need for Positive Regard (the universal need for acceptance, love, and approval
from others). This is particularly important during infancy. Equally important, if not more important, is the need for Positive
Self-Regard (when acceptance and approval come from within the individual and forms part of the self-concept). Rogers does
not specify any developmental stages, but does make some comments. Of basic importance is the fact that one's inherent potentialities
are genetically determined, while the self-concept is socially determined. Thus, there is the possibility of a difference
between the two. The important influences are: Conditional Positive Regard (the granting of love and approval only when behaving
in accordance with parent's wishes, or when parents withdraw love if the child misbehaves). This leads to: Conditions of Worth
(similar to superego- the individual's belief that he/she is worthy of affection only when expressing desirable behaviors),
And Incongruence (When there is a split between organismic experience and self-concept).
Because of the traits involved with the "self", defensive behavior can result. Major defenses are denial and distortion. Unconditional
Positive Regard (the granting of love and approval regardless of individual's behavior) does not mean lack of restraint. If
a child runs out in front of a truck, stop him and tell him it is dangerous, but don't spank him and tell him he is a bad,
evil boy. (Rogers is against punishment as a means of controlling behavior). Congruence takes place when the self- concept
is in agreement with inherent potentialities and there are minimal conditions of worth. This leads to openness to experience
and a fulfilling functioning person.
Rogers discussed only two broad types of personality: one
where the self-actualizing tendency is vigorously functioning and one where it is not. A fully functioning person: The ideal
- has received unconditional positive regard, has few conditions of worth, and has congruence between self & potentialities.
Some characteristics of such a person are as follows: Openness to Experience: the opposite of defensiveness. It is reflective
in much emotional depth (for both pleasure and pain). Existential Living: Living fully in each and every moment. They are
flexible, adaptable, and spontaneous.
One Rogers philosophy is that experience is the highest
authority. If it feels right, it probably is (better than conscious thought - very different from Freud). People characterizing
this philosophy follow Experiential Freedom - the freedom to choose among alternatives. Many also showcase great Creativity:
The ability to produce new and effective ideas and things. A person not characterized by any of the former details would be
considered maladjusted and not intuitive. These types of people are likely to feel manipulated and out of control.
There is a certain amount of selfishness in Roger's theory. One critic has called Humanistic Psychology "the narcissism of
our culture" - that we are so lost in self-love that we fail to relate to outside reality. But I say, there’s a reason
why people who love themselves and respect the idea of their own "self" live happier lives and have more control over their
actions. They are less likely to blame or manipulate others, and tend to be ambitious people in general.