A closer look at Carl Rogers
Paul E Warfield JR.
Instructor: Zummuma Davis
PSY 330: Theories of personality
Nov 8, 2010
Carl Rogers was born, Carl Ranson Rogers on Jan 8, 1902 in Oak Park Illinois (a Chicago suburb). Carl was the fourth of six children (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). Due to the fact that Roger??™s father was a very successful civil engineer and contractor, there were no financial problems in the early part of Roger??™s life. Roger often described himself as the middle child in a large close knit family (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). Roger??™s defined his parents as being cold disciplinarians (Britchnell 1999). Roger??™s parents discouraged the development of friendships outside their family members. Since Roger??™s was not allowed to develop a lot of childhood friendships, he spent a large amount of time by himself. He spent the majority of the time he had alone reading just about any and everything that he could get his hands on, including dictionaries and encyclopedias (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
When Roger??™s was twelve years old, he and his family moved approximately thirty miles away from Chicago. Although his family moved to a farm, they still managed to maintain their upper middle class lifestyle. The house on the farm that Roger??™s and his family moved to had a slate roof, tile floors, eight bedrooms, five baths, and a clay tennis court behind the house (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). Roger??™s continued to live a life of solitude throughout high school, during which time he only had two dates. Roger??™s main interests in high school were English and science (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
Roger??™s enrolled to the University of Wisconsin in 1919. In Roger??™s early years at college, he was very active in church work (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). He received his BA degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1924. Shortly after graduating college, Rogers married his childhood sweetheart, Helen Elliot and later they had a son and a daughter (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
In the winter of 1927-1928, while Roger??™s was an intern, he had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Alfred Adler. Since Rogers??™s was so accustomed to the Freudian approach at the institute, he was rather stunned when he began to hear Adler??™s very direct and seemingly simple method of relating to the child and the parent (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). One of the main things that Roger??™s learned from Adler was that lengthy case histories are cold unnecessary and mechanical (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
As was previously mentioned Carl Rogers was most certainly in the humanistic category. More specifically, Rogers used a person centered approach as it pertains to counseling (Levinson, 2004). Person centeredness includes details such as; the significance of empathy, the self as a tool, genuineness, and the importance of caring and respecting for the client (Levinson, 2004). Rogers believed that if a counselor could provide a certain kind of relationship, the patient would find within themselves the ability to use that relationship for growth and personal development (Levinson, 2004).
One of the main suppositions of the humanistic view is that there is a driving force in every person that is striving towards self-actualization. In other words it is a desire for a person to be all that they can (Sarason & Sarason, 2005). Carl Rogers used the self image as his central theme of his view on personality. Rogers associated the capacity of an individual to that individual??™s self regard and perception of acceptance by others (Saranson & Saranson, 2005). In example, Rogers felt that an adult who felt loved and wanted as a child is likely to have a positive self-image, be well thought of by others, and have the capacity for self-actualization (Saranson & Saranson, 2005). Rogers believed that a fully functioning person is characterized by low anxiety. One of the reasons for this belief is that anxiety is caused by tension that is a result of inconsistencies between people??™s self-perceptions and their ideas of what they aspire to be (Saranson & Saronson, 2005). One of the key things that marked Rogers as a humanistic theorist is the following statement made by Rogers himself; ???there is no such thing as scientific knowledge; there are only individual perceptions of what appears to each person to be such knowledge.??? Saranson & Saranson, 2005).
Roger??™s most important contribution to the field of psychology was most likely his views on self-actualization and actualization tendency. According to Rogers; ???the organism had one basic tendency and striving- to actualize, maintain, and enhance the experiencing organism??? (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). Rogers went on to speculate that there is one main source of energy in the human organism. This energy is function of the entire organism not just a portion of it (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). This function could most likely be explained as a tendency toward fulfillment and toward the maintenance and enhancement of the organism (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). Actualizing tendency could best be described as the driving force in a person??™s life. It is what causes a person to become more complex, more independent, and more socially responsible (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
It is possible to assess all of an organism??™s experiences by using the actualizing tendency as a frame of reference (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). Roger??™s named this mode of assessing one??™s experiences the organismic valuing process (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). The experiences that are in congruence with the actualizing tendency are satisfying and hence are approached and sustained (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). The experiences that are in contrast to the actualizing tendency are unsatisfying and as such, they are either avoided or terminated. In essence, the organismic valuing process, initiates a feedback system which allows the organism to coordinate its experiences with its tendency toward self-actualization (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). According to Rogers, what we find through this entire process is that people can trust their feelings. Rogers believed strongly that if even an infant was given the opportunity, he would choose what was best for him (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
Rogers believed that all people live in a subjective world, which can be known only to themselves. This belief can be defined as a phenomenological realtiy (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). According to Rogers, it is this phenomenological reality that predicates people??™s behavior. More specifically, the way in which people interpret things is, to them the only reality (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). This private reality will correlate in different degrees to objective reality depending on the individual (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
Throughout his career and involvement with psychology Rogers had a great many accomplishments. One of these accomplishments is that he, more than any other psychologist, brought to light the psychotherapeutic process to examination. (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). Rogers and his colleagues, through the use of methods such as the Q-sort, were able to discover a client??™s tendency toward congruency as a function of therapy (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). Credit can also be given to Rogers for creating encounter groups (also known as sensitivity groups or T-groups). There have been a number of studies that have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of these encounter groups (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). In fact it was determined by one study that encounter group participants consequently felt more in control of their lives (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). There has also been a great deal of research that has been conducted in an attempt to authenticate Roger??™s claims that empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness are the necessary ingredients for personal growth (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
Although Rogers had a tremendous impact on the field of psychology, there are still however a few criticisms of his perspectives on personality theory and development. There are some therapists that believe that Rogers??™s supposition that humans are good and have an innate tendency toward self- actualization is nothing more than a fallacy (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). Some therapists have gone as far as to compare Carl Rogers to MR. Rogers, the overly kind overly sensitive neighbor on the children??™s television program. In summary, these therapists consider Roger??™s approach to be overly simplistic, and optimistic (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
Another Major criticism of Carl Rogers is that he did not give proper credit to those who influenced his work. (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007). There are many elements that are similar in both Adler??™s and Roger??™s theories. There are also a lot of similarities between Roger??™s work and that of Karen Horney. Some therapists believe that Horney and Rogers were saying close to the same thing, yet he did not credit her for the contributions that she made to his work (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2007).
One of the main reasons that I chose to do this assignment on Carl Rogers was because I like Rogers??™ humanistic view. I also agree very strongly with his views on self-actualization and the actualizing tendency. Although I do not agree with every detail and aspect of Roger??™s theory, it does for the most part relate to my personal views and life more than the other theorists that we have covered in this class. Many of the other theorists such as Freud, Jung, and a few others seemed to have such a drab, bleak and pessimistic view on the human organism and the way in which personality develops for a human being. Some of these views were almost animalistic. While I must admit that Roger??™s is dangerously close to being too optimistic, I still believe that his views relate better to my life than many of the other theorists.
Hergenhahn, B.R., & Olson, M.H. (2007). An Introduction to Theories of personality. (7th ed.)New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
John Birtchnell.? (1999). Carl Rogers: A Critical Biography.? British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1? ? 72,? 138.? Retrieved October 25, 2010, from ProQuest Health and Medical Complete. (Document ID:? 39944168).
Martin H Levinson.? (2004). Hypnocounseling: An Eclectic Bridge Between Milton Erickson and Carl Rogers. et Cetera,? 61(3),? 407-408.? Retrieved November 8, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID:? 711212711).
Sarason, I.G., & Sarason, B.R. (2005). Abnormal psychology: the problem of maladaptive behavior. (11th ed). New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall.