”Humanistic psychology ”


”The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Positive psychology has been successful in drawing attention to the fact that psychologists had overlooked what makes life worth living.

At first, the relationship between positive psychology and humanistic psychology was difficult.  But as positive psychology has developed and matured it is clear that the idea we should be concerned with what makes for a good life was an idea also at the core of humanistic psychology, Humanistic psychology developed around the middle of the twentieth century in part to address the fact that the previous ways of thinking in psychoanalysis and behaviourism had not been concerned with the full range of functioning.


“Two main branches of psychology – behaviorism, and psychoanalysis- appear to have made great contributions to human knowledge, but neither singly nor together have they covered the almost limitless scope of human behavior, relationships, and possibilities. Perhaps their greatest limitation has been the inadequacy of their approach to positive human potentialities and the maximal realization of those potentialities”

“In the past, mental health has been a ‘residual’ concept – the absence of disease.  We need to do more than describe the improvement in terms of say ‘anxiety reduction’.  We need to say what the person can do as health is achieved.  As the emphasis on pathology lessons, there have been a few recent efforts toward positive conceptualizations of mental health.


Indeed, even the term positive psychology had been used, The final chapter of Maslow’s 1954 book, Motivation, and Personality was titled “Toward a Positive Psychology”, where he called for greater attention to both the positive and negative aspects of human experience:  As Maslow wrote:


“The science of psychology has been far more successful on the negative than on the positive side. It has revealed to us much about man’s shortcomings, his illness, his sins, but little about his potentialities, his virtues, his achievable aspirations, or his full psychological height. It is as if psychology has voluntarily restricted itself to only half its rightful jurisdiction, and that, the darker, meaner half”

Maslow seems to be the first to use the term positive psychology. Maslow wanted to create a psychology that was based not only on those who were dysfunctional but also upon those who were fully living the extent of their human potential.

Now that positive psychology has become established, it is time for humanistic and positive psychology to come together to share ideas, methods and to learn from each other.



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