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Contrast


malign

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Well, after commenting on Freud, the next book I took up was Abraham Maslow's Toward a Psychology of Being. Talk about contrasts ...

As I told a friend elsewhere, Maslow spelled "optimist" with a capital 'O'. He preferred to focus on the behavior of the most successful healthy people, as a guide toward individual growth for each of us, instead of focusing on sick people and how they got that way. It's a totally different viewpoint.

Also, he (being a professor in the 60's) preferred not to pretend that language is absolute, that there's just one way to say something that will be understood by all. So he puts in half a dozen near-synonymous adjectives for every concept. Depending on your point of view, this either increases the chance that you'll understand what he means, or it'll dilute his point entirely. Conceivably, it does both simultaneously ...

And conceivably, he would approve of that. He points out that many things that most of us consider to be opposites, such as selfish versus selfless, may actually be concepts that meet and merge, in the extreme. Thus, for his semi-hypothetical, truly healthy people, doing something completely for other people may also be the source of selfish pleasure. I think most of us know what he means by that.

Anyway, besides recommending him to others interested in psychology, my reaction to it all was less severe than it was to Freud, at least. However, I did have a little difficulty with his concept of "self-actualized" people. Not that they don't exist; we've all seen people who seem to have found what they're looking for, those who could be Buddhist monks or saints, those with serenity written all over them.

The difficulty I had was with the appearance of a division between such people and me, which clearly Maslow did not intend. But there was some reaction of jealousy, to be honest: I wish I were more like those people. Really, though, that reaction was my own mistake. Maslow was describing a continuum. The only thing stopping me from being more like those serene people is me.

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Maslow's stuff is more my territory than Freud. My last course was about all of the different theories. It was interesting how I could find something meaningful that rang true for me in every single one. You should read about George Kelly's construct theory. I found that one quite fascinating.

Humanistic theories offer a positive view on humanity. Guess that's why they call them humanistic.:o My textbook had a list of the behaviors of self-actualizers. A lot of them already applied to me and some were things I've been working on. I thought that was pretty cool. :cool:

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Mmm, but another thing I'm having trouble with is the potential for circular definitions. I mean, if you select certain people as the "healthiest", and then try to measure how they're different from other people, you can find all sorts of cool stuff, but what you may be measuring is just the criteria you used to select them as "healthy" in the first place.

It's nice to know what makes people seem healthy to others, but it's a little more difficult to establish that they really are healthy. Or, another way, it's a stretch to say that because some people achieve health, we all have the potential for it. I'd like to believe it, but I'm not sure how you could really prove that.

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It is more difficult to prove free will and self-actualization. The only way for scientists to try to be scientific is through some kind of measurement and assessment. This is challenging to define when it comes to human beings. That's why I don't think there are truly any right or wrong answers in this. It's what fits for you and what helps you to feel centered and healthy. I think, anyhow.

George Kelly's theory is about the way each one of us views the world. This is based on our personal experiences and the feelings we have about those experiences. I can take a piece from that theory, Freud's use of symbolism, Bandura's self-efficacy, and Carl Roger's unconditional positive regard and self-actualization...and they all have meaning to me. There are no clear cut answers to the mysteries of human behavior and personality, I don't think. We're complex beings. We are always learning. That's the beauty of it, too.

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Yes, but my fortune cookies always tell me stuff I already know. :-)

{I talk a fair game, too ...}

I need a cookie that'll tell me how to get what I want!

{Unless you get what you want by listening, in which case, never mind.}

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