What Is Humanistic Psychology?


Quick Answer

Humanistic psychology is the fundamental belief that mental and social problems result when innately good people deviate from their natural tendencies. The concept, referred to as humanism, emerged in the 1950s as a response to pessimistic psychoanalysis and behaviorism that focused on tragic emotions rather than the role of choice.

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Humanism emphasizes study of the whole individual and is considered the "third force" in psychology, with psychoanalysis and behaviorism ranked as first and second. Each of these three branches are instrumental in understanding the human mind. Humanistic psychology stresses human potential, growth and self-actualization. It suggests that people continually search for new ways to achieve personal fulfilment and perceive psychological growth.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, humanism offered new values for understanding human nature, provided expanded methods of inquiry for studying human behavior and presented a broader range of techniques for implementation in the practice of psychotherapy. Humanistic phemonena is difficult to study and measure due to its reliance on the importance of individual experience, which is usually subjective. The school of psychology that emphasizes the role of the individual in determining the state of their mental health is one of the strengths of humanism. It also takes into account the influence of environment on personal experiences.

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