Humanistic Theory

Humanistic Theory

The humanistic theory is a psychology perspective that considers that all people are inherently good. To reach the level of 'goodness' every person must go through certain phases in life. This article discusses what those phases are and explains what this theory is all about.
Humanistic psychology, also known as the humanistic approach, is an approach or perspective of studying psychology. This approach is quite broad and applies to the society at large. A major problem of this theory is that it is vast and focuses on irrational issues. For example, you cannot make a graph of love, it's too vague and also unpredictable.

Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Otto Rank, Melanie Klein, and Harry Stack Sullivan are considered pioneer psychologists--also regarded as the first force--who studied human nature and came up with the theories of psychoanalysis. The second force was derived by psychologists such as Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, and B.F. Skinner who studied the science of behavior. On the dimension of psychology, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Clark Moustakas propagated humanistic psychology which is associated with deeper and irrational (non-mathematical) issues such as health, love, spirituality, hope, creativity, nature, and self-actualization.

The Components of this Theory

As per Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, every human being wonders, "Am I a good person?" or "What should I be contributing to the society?". The basic definition is that every human being can be a contributor to the society and can be a good or successful person at heart. This theory believes that people are inherently good. However, to reach that level of 'goodness' a person goes through what is known as 'Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs'. The pyramid of this theory goes as follows:

LevelNameComponents
1Self Actualizationmorals, emotions, creativity, lack of prejudice, and acceptance
2Esteemself-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect
3Love and Belongingfriendship, family, and relations
4Safetysecurity of body, health, income, family, food, and morality
5Physiologicalbreathing, food, basic health, sleep, homeostasis, and hygiene

There are several approaches in which this theory is interpreted. The theory of personality, which was propagated by Abraham Maslow, states that the apex of the pyramid can be achieved only after the initial steps are experienced. For example, a person who appreciates the basic necessities, tends to succeed to the next level in a better and able manner. Gautama Buddha was a prince who renounced every aforementioned 'need' so that he could appreciate them better. He eventually reached the pinnacle of self-actualization, going even beyond to become the enlightened one.

The theory of motivation is almost similar, it's aimed at quickly proceeding to the next level. Great entrepreneurs, leaders, and artists always start from scratch. They go through every level and experience it to appreciate its value, and finally they reach the level of self-actualization.

This theory is found extensively in several real-life examples, and even in fiction. Charles Dickens tells us about the fulfillment of all the levels extensively in almost all his writings; 'David Copperfield' and 'A Christmas Carol' being the prominent ones. Achilles found self-actualization when he fell in love with Priestess Briseis. King Asoka reached the final level after he was tormented by the horrors of the battle of Kalinga. The start of self-actualization is the beginning of salvation and realization of oneself. It is our job to appreciate and value every level.
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