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1. Carl Rogers

Core of Personality

I. Core Tendency: The tendency to actualize one's inherent potentialities. This potential exists in all living organisms, even plants. Humans possess an additional form - the attempt to actualize the self - called self-actualization.

II. Core Characteristics:

A. Self: The person's conscious sense of who and what you are. Is available to awareness, although not always in awareness.

1. Gradually emerges through experiences with verbal labels such as "I" or "Me".

2. Phenomenological Reality: A person's private perception of reality (whether or not it agrees with objective reality). Experience is the highest authority. If you think you are not good-looking or smart, this is part of your self concept regardless of reality.

B. Need for Positive Regard: the universal need for acceptance, love, and approval from others. Particularly important during infancy.

C. Need for Positive Self-Regard: When acceptance and approval come from within the individual and forms part of the self-concept.


Rogers does not specify any developmental stages, but does make some comments. Of basic importance is the fact that one's inherent potentialities are genetically determined, while the self-concept is socially determined. Thus, there is the possibility of a difference between the two. The important influences are:

I. Conditional Positive Regard: The granting of love and approval only when behaving in accordance with parent's wishes, or when parents withdraw love if the child misbehaves. This leads to: II. Conditions of Worth (similar to superego): the individual's belief that he/she is worthy of affection only when expressing desirable behaviors.

III. Incongruence: When there is a split between organismic experience and self-concept.

A. Prevents self-actualization.
B. Leads to defensive behavior. Major defenses:

1. Denial (repression)
2. Distortion

IV. Unconditional Positive Regard: The granting of love and approval regardless of individual's behavior. Does not mean lack of restraint. If a child runs out in front of a truck, stop him and tell him it is dangerous, but don't spank him and tell him he is a bad, evil boy. (Rogers is against punishment as a means of controlling behavior).
V. Congruence: When the self concept is in agreement with inherent potentialities and there are minimal conditions of worth. Leads to openness to experience and a fully functioning person.

Periphery of Personality

Rogers discussed only two broad types: one where the self-actualizing tendency is vigorously functioning and one where it is not.

I. Fully Functioning Person: The ideal - has received unconditional positive regard, has few conditions of worth, and has congruence between self & potentialities. Characteristics:

A. Openness to Experience - opposite of defensiveness. Is reflective and much emotional depth (for both pleasure and pain).
B. Existential Living: Living fully in each and every moment. The absence of rigidity, is flexible, adaptable, and spontaneous.
C. Organismic Trusting:
1. Intuitive living: the ability to accept information from all bases.
2. Experience is the highest authority. If it feels right, it probably is (better than conscious thought - very different from Freud).
D. Experiential Freedom - the freedom to choose among alternatives.
E. Creativity: The ability to produce new and effective ideas and things.

II. Maladjusted Person: Has received conditional positive regard and developed conditions of worth. There is incongruence between self and potentialities. Characteristics:
A. Defensive Living - Not open to experience
B. Live According to preconceived plan - generally laid down by parents.
C. Disregards organism - not intuitive
D. Feels manipulated - not free to choose
E. Common and conforming

III. Other comments:
Comparison of ideals. There is a certain amount of selfishness in Roger's theory. One critic has called Humanistic Psychology "the narcissism of our culture" - that we are so lost in self love that we fail to relate to outside reality.
For example, compare the following ideal adjectives for Adler and Rogers:
1. Adler - responsible, capable, committed, effective, adaptable to social realities, social interest.
2. Rogers - experiential richness, flexibility, range of living, immediacy, change spontaneity.

Four characteristics of successful therapists. Rogers believed that these characteristics of the person doing therapy were more important than the therapist's philosophy or technique. Incidentally, research supports this position.
1. Congruence: Good therapists can't be phony; they must be able to relate to others honestly and sincerely. They don't have to be perfect, but can't be defensive when relating to others. Can't play games with clients.
2. Empathy: Must be able to put yourself in your client's shoes. Must be accurate empathy - not just "Yeah, I know what you are feeling, because I...".
3. Learn from Client: Good therapists can shut up and listen. Therapy is a two-way street, and the therapist should benefit from therapy also. Rogers always did 12 - 20 hrs. of therapy/ week.
4. Unconditional Positive Regard: You must genuinely like the client. You do not have to approve of his behavior, but must be able to separate the sins from the sinner. (Incidentally, in seeking out a therapist, make sure you get this feeling).

- Adapted 2004 -

Topics in Psychology
Robert C. Gates