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Humanistic/Existential Perspective of Personality

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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Humanistic/Existential perspective of personality
Christine Bernardo
Psych 405
December 3, 2012
Thom Mote

Humanistic/Existential perspective of personality

I would like to summarize the strengths of both the humanistic and existential perspectives of personality. This will focus on strengths and examples of personalities using these theories. Both of these perspectives are part of a progressive and positive attempt to resolve upset and inhibiting behaviors to uncover the better person hiding within. To analyze the strengths of any perspective you have to break down the theory into its strengths and weaknesses. Abraham Maslow has a humanistic theory that is based around self-actualization. This self – actualization is the main part of the theory that envelopes the lower level necessities such as love, safety, esteem and hunger (Feist & Feist, 2009). We need these to survive in a strong positive manner and also to reach the ultimate goal of self – actualization.
Maslow felt that other theories did not adequately understand the humanity and psychological health of a person.
Maslow has a hierarchy of needs that describes and defines the basic necessities that people need to be the best they can be. This hierarchy consists of five stages of needs, the first is physiological which is the most basic of human needs and consists of the air we breathe, the food we eat, water we drink and maintaining our bodies peak performance levels. The second step is safety, by safety there is coverage of physical security such as a home and stability but also our safe relationships and a certain level of liberty from disasters, dangers and upset. The third step is love and belonging which is our innate need for love, friendship, companionship and over all acceptances. The fourth step is esteem which is something we give ourselves and constitutes our worth in our own eyes and others. The fifth step is self – actualization needs that include values of moral impact and appreciation for positive and fair values in the world. It is an ultimate self-fulfillment that comes from reaching for and obtaining one’s own potential. This hierarchy is necessary to be a truly good person, in your eyes and the eyes of others. People can get stuck in any of these stages and be unable to progress. The humanistic perspective allows a start of optimism and hope toward the end goal.
The strengths to the humanistic perspective include first and foremost the focus on the positive aspects of human nature and the ability to change behavior. Positivity is a very progressive and powerful way to attempt anything in this world. Another strength of this perspective is that it naturally occurs or comes out as the core workings to helping people resolve their problems. The foundation of humanistic thought can be found in numerous areas of life. It carries into other professions, exchanges and opportunities.
Rollo May was the evolutionary behind existential theory and therapy. It takes out the controlled scientific research and focuses on clinical research (Feist & Feist, 2009). The existential thought process is based on a balance of responsibility to ourselves and in our lives but also with the freedom needed to pursue happiness and experience their own lives. Existence is merging or becoming and has most value in understanding the essential and its objectives to grow and try to understand concepts like why we exist. Existentialists maintain a perspective of being responsible for ourselves and not doling out blame to innate circumstances.
Existential theories and therapies go hand in hand with humanistic perspectives in the sense that it is all positive and for the benefit of the clients’ specific needs. Existential therapy focuses primary on starting with the exact issues the client has or things they need to address. The main issue is what this therapy is adaptive to, and works on an individual basis for each client. It is not a strict structure but more free in the process of it (Andrew, 1989). In discussing a personality using this theory would be an example of someone going to therapy to address certain issues or one issue and learn and understand why it exists. This theory would not apply to someone in need of quicker help (like with depression or anxiety) and medication is sometimes necessary for a person to even be able to start dealing with an issue or problem that is occurring. This is part of the opposition to the existential theory because some professionals don’t see being able to solve problems in this way but rather in a very planned method that is used for everyone.
Discussing the humanistic approach as well in regards to a therapeutic practice can be discarded by others because personality is too vast to work in any single manner (Mayer, 2003). However the foundation of therapy is humanistic in nature because it is problem solving and progressing into a better person and resolving problems that exist which is all positive in nature.
In theory both of these perspectives can work and has worked for many people over many years. From a logical perspective there is a certain level of humanistic and existential perspective in most forms of therapies. It is a logical foundation to start from, being human and existing. References
Andrew, J. (1989). Integrating visions of reality. Interpersonal diagnosis and the existential vision, 5(44), 803-817.
Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2009). Theories of personality (7th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Mayer, J. (2003). Structural Divisions of Personality and the classification of traits. Review of general psychology, 4(7), 381-401.…...

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