Carl Rogers on Personal Power
Delcorte Press, New York
There is in every organism, at whatever level, an underlying flow of movement toward constructive fulfillment of its inherent possibilities. There is a natural tendency toward complete development in man. The term that has most often been used for this is the actualizing tendency, and is present in all living organisms. It is the foundation on which the person-centered approach is built.
The actualizing tendency can be thwarted, but cannot be destroyed with destroying the organism. I remember that in my boyhood the potato bin in which we stored our winter supply of potatoes was in the basement, several feet below a small basement window. The conditions were unfavorable, but the potatoes would begin to sprout--pale while sprouts so unlike the healthy green shoots they sent up when planted in the soil in the spring. But these sad, spindly sprouts would grow two or three feet in length as they reached toward the distant light of the window. They were, in their bizarre futile growth a sort of desperate expression of the directional tendency I have been describing. They would never become a plant, never mature, never fulfill their real potentiality. But under the most adverse circumstances they were striving to become [self??]. Life would not give up even if it could not flourish. In dealing with clients whose lives have been terribly warped, in working with men and women on the back wards of state hospitals, I often think of those potato sprouts. SO unfavorable have been the conditions in which these people heave developed that their lives often seem abnormal, twisted, scarcely human. Yet the directional tendency in them is to be trusted. The clue to understanding their behavior is that they are striving, in the only ways available to them, to move toward growth, toward becoming. To us the results may seem bizarre and futile, but they are life's desperate attempt to become itself. This is the potent tendency, which the underlying basis of client centered therapy and al that has grown out of it.
(Freud and control)
The great majority of people have a strong need for authority which they can admire, to which they can submit and which dominates and sometimes ill-treats them.
A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence, it has not critical faculty, and the improbable does not exist for it. It respects force and can only be slightly influenced by kindness, which it regards merely as a form of weakness. Anyone who wishes to produces an effect upon it needs no logical adjustment... he must exaggerate and he must repeat the same thing over and over again.
It wants to be oppressed and to fear its masters... groups have never thirsted for the truth... a group is an obedient herd which could never live without a master... it submits instinctively to any one who appoints himself as its master.
Freud-- the human is at its deepest level untrustworthy, sick people have an innately destructive core.
(Skinner / Walden II)
For the good of the person, an elitist technocracy of behaviorists sets the goals that will make the person happy and productive. Secretly, through operant conditioning, the community achieves these goals, because, after all, behavior is completely determined by the environment and this might better be planned so as to make everyone happy socialized and moral. Who sets the environment is always deftly avoided.
(Twin Oaks-- Skinner commune)
Residents choose for themselves which behaviors they wish to change, and select the rewards, which will be most reinforcing (a playboy model??). This completely opposes the politics of Skinner since is it self initiated and self evaluated.
Six in-depth interviews with well-known therapists were recorded and rated by eighty therapists from twelve different therapeutic orientations. Variables such as "therapist directed" or "systematically reinforcing" were linked to controlling behaviorists whereas "warm and giving" and "equalitarian" and "empathic" indicated therapists who would give control to the client.
The eighty therapists uses these kinds of variables to give their picture of an ideal therapist there was substantial agreement that the outstanding characteristics where non-controlling and there was a desire to treat the client as an autonomous person. Of the six studied therapists, only two where client centered, the remainder used controlling techniques.
(Self actualizing behavior)
- Engages in personal fantasy, daydreams, and fictional speculations
- Expresses hostile feelings directly (Is this safe ?? Would it not start fights w/ non-centered people)
- Enjoys sensuous experiences; touch, taste, smell, physical contact
- Thinks and associates to ideas in unusual ways, has unconventional thought processes
- Is concerned with philosophical problems, religion, values, meaning of life
- Has insight into own motive s and behavior
- I skilled in social techniques of imaginative play, pretending and humor
- Values own independence and autonomy
** In other words, a kid
The self actualizing person is warmer and more original, open, expressive, with broad interests. The stereotypical manager holds back all feelings (in preparation of firing employs for any or all reasons)
The ideal leader is dependable, productive, serious, candid, someone you can lean on but not a dreamer nor an entirely autonomous person.
On the surface, the self actualizing person would not be a good leader or manager. According to GW Cherry there are clusters of traits associated with the capacity for close relationships such as compassion and considerateness that correlate with productivity, creativity, cooperativeness, and job satisfaction. On the other hand, a cluster of traits associated with corporate behavior such as power hunger, aggressiveness, a willingness to exploit, deceive and manipulate to reach personal goals is not in anyway related to productivity and is more closely related to frustration, poor social conditions, and very likely to dangerous health conditions.
According to Rogers, friend of his, a social consultant for a major factory operator, was allowed to apply the humanistic approach to a series of plants while holding other plants in the stat quo as control groups. The emphasis was on building two-way communication in all directions and the fair delegation of the responsibilities of making decisions. In a word, productivity tripled. The managerial staff was reduced to twenty percent. It is not surprising that cooperation among the staff would produce such increases in output and likewise reduce the need for straw bosses, but it works against the basic concepts associated with the management of the wage slave and how productivity is encouraged, usually, in the slave-wage with the negative reinforcement of the fear of homelessness.
Unfortunately, the level of success was so great that the consultant only reported this to Rogers with the agreement that no details be revealed.
(Helping the oppressed)
To help facilitate meetings of folks under the gun:
- Facilitative attitudes (and skills) can help a therapist gain entry into the group
- Freedom from a desire to control the outcome, and respect for the capacity of the group, and skills in releasing individual expression
- Openness to all attitudes no matter how extreme or unrealistic they may seem
- Acceptance of the problems experienced by the group where they are clearly defined as issues
- Allowance of the freedom of choices in direction, either for the group or individuals particularly in the near future
This openness and flexibility will produce:
- An outpouring of long suppressed feelings, in particular negative, hostile and bitter expressions
- An acceptance and understanding of attitudes as more and more members feel free to express a range of experiences
- Recognition for individuals' uniqueness and strength, mutual trust will develop
- A defusing of irrational feelings as they are fully expressed and as the group the experimental knowledge of the members overlaps through welcome feedback
- Feelings based on common experiences by group members will clarify issues and strengthen resolve
- Growth in the self confidence of the members and confidence in the unity of the group
- More realistic consideration of the issues with less irrationality
- Greater mutual trust and fewer ego trips, as in the completion for leadership
- Motion towards innovative, responsible and revolutionary steps
- Dispersion of leadership in the group as individual members realize what specific leaderships skills they have
- Constructive and actionable steps, where there is significant progress in changing the situation
- Enough mutual support within the group to assure members that the group will support them even when taking steps that might be perilous.
(Global peace strategy)
Finlay and Hovet-- To deal constructively with world problems, a global strategy is necessary. Such a strategy must attempt the seemingly impossible: to establish a sense of common cause amongst the vastly disparate and competing nations f the world. It requires that nations move beyond self-interest defined in terms of power and concentrate on common interests defined in terms of realizing man’s fullest potentialities.
(Gestation of social evolution -- slow)
In major social change there is a long quite period of gestation, experimentation and model building before anything happens. Information is gathered solutions are discovered and often unsuccessful attempts are made to promulgate these solutions. Meanwhile the average citizen is becoming frustrated by superficial attempts at correction. Then the public may discover that the solutions are available already on a small scale.
Since most social problems are highly complex no miracle will appear, but the public can develop the ~will~ to put positive solutions into action and put the enormous efforts needed into motion.
Technological problems are complex too, especially when involved with the information society where many unforeseen difficulties have arisen.
The telephone, radio, and car all went through slow gestation before the public was able to realize their value and demand their development.
Effective birth control was described along with the discovery of the process of human reproductively, and in the early 1900s it was made available in an organized format yet it was not until the 1960s that it started to impact the problems of overpopulation. Its final popular acceptance came from the persistent efforts of a small number of dedicated and expert activists.
Pollution has been a problem as long as there have been mines and smoke stacks, yet strict controls only came in the 1960s with the deaths of huge lakes and the asphyxiation of major cities.
(Power struggles, within and without)
Just as it seems too late, society grasps the seriousness of the problems and begins to gain momentum. Sometimes changes occur with tragic slowness, sometimes with surprising speed.
Political policies are destructive, yet the person centered approach provides an alternative by making the public truly aware in a way that relates the effects of society on each individual. By becoming more aware, people may start to look for alternatives, partially based on the experiences of the past and also based on the openness for new and imaginative solutions.
(Each has two, one inside, one out-- schism)
** I thought so !!!
Internal conflict is the most basic of all struggles. One of the commonest problems in therapy is provided by the individual who feels at war within himself yet is well accepted as a person by society. Able to make a living, and have a degree of recognition in the community, there yet exists internal fear. Feelings for worthlessness, bad impulses, and evil intentions create an irreconcilable discrepancy between what I am perceived as and how I perceive myself. If people could see me as I do, they would reject me.
Rogers learned to accept these flatly contradictory feelings, the contradictory internal and external parts could each be accepted and live comfortable in one person, that they are not fundamentally incompatible. It is not true that one part is bad and one is good, one right and one wrong. One can work openly for approval of others and strive for recognition, yet one can also resist being controlled and do as one wishes and not simply do what is expected by management or others. Elements within the emotional range, which seem incompatible, even out of touch with each other, can live comfortably within the person.
Human beings trying to cope with life have vast pools of common experiences to draw on, if we are all open sharing these commonalities, then race or gender or other separators make no difference. There is a large area in which understanding is possible. Even people on opposite sides of conflict can find pathways to constructive resolution if they can tap the pool of common experiences. They can resolve the issues of economics, ideology, civil justice, and revolutionary violence.
International groups are very similar to encounter groups. As soon as the person is discovered the national and racial difference become unimportant. When people start to openly communicate, they talk of family, honesty, showing emotions, changing circumstances, improving attitudes and developing self confidence. Who is to say which idea would come from which person, there is no way to differentiate these expressive ideas based on culture or race. These are human concepts.
(Case of sexual abuse by a youth-- schism)
A teenage boy brought up in strictly religious home, where parental acceptance meant that sexual thoughts, impulses and behaviors had to be viewed as evil was caught one night in the home of a next-door neighbor, trying to tear the night dress off a sleeping girl. He said, with firm belief, that he had not done this act, it was not his behavior. His natural impulses and curiosities had been so thoroughly denied that he was unaware of their existence, yet they existed and they went on to satisfy natural needs, but outside of the scope of his awareness. His conscious mind could honestly say, as a result of parental conditioning, that he had not done these evil things.
Introjected beliefs or constructs can be so rigid because they pushed in from the outside. They are not part of the normal process of the evaluation of experience and growth in a fluid, dynamic way. A child can reject his own growth process when it is superceded by an introjected construct, cutting him off from his natural internal self, creating a schism that can cause problems. If the disassociation between internal growth, now driven into the subconscious, and the world of rigid constructs becomes too great, very tragic results may occur.
Individuals are culturally conditioned, rewarded or punished, reinforced for behaviors that are misdirections or terminations of self actualization which can be perverted into horrific directions.
** Rape by homosexual priests
Constitution and Bill of Rights are both decidedly person-centered in their values. They values are increasingly questioned by a disbelief, however cynical, that political democracy is workable in our society. It seems hopeless that the diffusion of power could be accepted. There is evidence that the Bill of Rights, if written today, would be rejected by popular vote. Concepts or rights and responsibilities are no longer precious.
** Rights cannot be added to, yet they cannot be removed either, rights are often perverted to actually increase control -- religious freedom was often an escape from reformation, social contributions by individuals can be co-opted by some control faction to create veils of "political correctness" and even democracy can be the vehicle of repression if the population can be controlled enough, usually with some artificial perception of freedom carefully constructed to repressive damage, or, in corporate cases, monopolistic market controls. Property rights developed in the early history of the US were used to justify the ownership of slaves, ignoring rights of the slaves.
Churches are lacking in any significant societal influence, they are opposed to the person centered approach and they are completely hierarchical with strict rules laid out for the faithful in an leader/follower (sheeples) relationship where the leader is prized only for charismatic qualities over the skills needed to advance society. To the extent that it exerts any influence, it is in support of authority rather than democracy.
The emerging person, the quiet revolutionary, clearly desires to explore the vastness of inner space. They are more willing to be aware of self, of inner feelings, and inhibitions. Internal communication between the various aspects of self is accepted now, easing the possibilities of communication across cultural lines. Barriers of repression, which cut off internal communication as much as societal openness can be kept at a distance and the people of today can potentially be much more aware than previous generations. This describes the emerging persons of the quiet revolution.
** As with all gestation, psychic growth took many odd and experimental turns, but the basic concepts of openness have empowered the information society beyond any expectations.
Einstein-- the supreme task is to arrive at those universal laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws, only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of the experience can reach them.
** Meditation can derive truths by allowing consideration and comparison between concepts and possibilities in an open and flowing consciousness. As free comparison strengthens concepts with the overlapping evidences of experiences a model is internally built within the mind and, until now, only in the mind. Linux can change that with the LinuxBIOS as a tool to effectively and cheaply create the necessary computational power to actually make all these experiential comparison based on vast and fluid data.
This experimentation has an almost Elizabethan quality, everything is possible and anything can be tried
** The openness of this emergence is then hardly a new concept