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Person Centred Theory
Carl Rogers states that people are essentially good and healthy which differs greatly from the psychoanalytic focus on abnormal behaviour epitomised by Freud.
The theory is concerned with development of the Self. How this is developed through interacting with others and how people acquire ‘conditions of worth’. People have experienced ‘positive regard’ from others such as their parents, and develop conditions of worth based on these experiences. The need to continue to feel this ‘positive regard’ leads the individual to be selective in their perception of the world.
This leads to an “incongruence” between the perceived Self and the actual experience of the organism, resulting in possible confusion, tension, and maladaptive behaviour. Such estrangement is the common human condition.
Subception is a lack of conscious awareness of experience. The person is less than fully conscious and therefore not fully open to external stimuli. This leads to a flood of internal stimuli, not equillibrium.
“Concept over experience” is when a pre-planned idea of something gets in the way of reality and you react to your own pre-plan rather than to the situation.
‘The Actualising Tendency’ is where the organism aims to fulfil it’s potential and move to autonomy where the person is able to experience themselves in a way which is consistent with the way they see themselves.
In Carl Rogers’s book On Becoming a Person he writes:
“Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets, neither Freud nor research, neither the revelations of God nor man, can take precedence over my own direct experience. My experience is not authoritative because it is infallible. It is the basis of authority because it can always be checked in new primary ways. In this way its frequent error or fallibility is always open to correction.”
In American and western culture, Rogers criticizes cultural conditions which exist to reward and reinforce behaviours that are “perversions of the unitary actualizing tendency (Emberton-Tudor,L. et al3).”
For example, an advert encourages you to be a certain way, look, dress, talk or act differently to your actual experience. This kind of mismatch can lead to confusion and self-doubt, issues with self-image and a multitude of social problems.
A suggested remedy is to make the paradigm shift from living in the concept. To return from the past or future to the present involved stepping out of the ‘the control train of thought’ and returning to the present moment through self-analytical meditation, which he called ‘hanging out with the I thought’.
“What am I doing? I am sitting on my backside and my backside is sore” – this is your direct experience.
“This is me, sitting on my butt, my butt is hurting, who’s butt is hurting, mine. Self enquiry sucks. Who is having doubt. I am having doubt.”
You can buy Carl Rogers – ‘On Becoming a Person’ here On Becoming a Person
- Pescitelli, D., 1996, An Analysis of Carl Rogers’ Theory of Personality. Available at < http://pandc.ca/?cat=carl_rogers&page=rogerian_theory>. Accessed 2009.
- Rogers, C. – On Becoming a Person Constable; New Ed edition (1 Mar 2004)
- Emberton-Tudor, L. et al – The Person-centred Approach: A Contemporary Introduction. 2004, Palgrave Macmillan .
Featured image from: http://www.psychologytoday.com/files/u217/CarlRogers.jpg