Humanistic Psychology - Rollo May

Humanistic Psychology - Rollo May - Psych 2000 Humanistic...

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Psych. 2000 -- Humanistic Psychology Rollo May -- Psychology and the Human Dilemma Read: (Intro, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 12, 8, 13, 14) Introduction Rollo May speaks of the human “dilemma” not in the sense of a problem, -- but in sense of polarities, tensions & paradoxes that mark human existence. May contends that psychology is mostly failing to speak to the vital issues and tensions of our times. -- psychology mostly tries to reduce the essential human dilemma and focus on solving problems instead. -- hence psychology’s emphasis on quantification, technique & science. -- this emphasis fails to embrace the historical, literary & myth/symbol dimensions of human existence. -- so, May advocates reinventing psychology so as to embrace these dimensions, as well as to speak more forcefully to the essential human dilemma. Chapter 1 -- What is the Human Dilemma? So, psychology has historically avoided the paradoxical aspects of human existence, -- and engaged in an Occam‘s Razor ethic of NIMIS SIMPLICANDO (too much simplification). A central dimension of the human dilemma: -- the DIALECTICAL RELATIONSHIP between subjectivity and objectivity (which are always mutually and simultaneously affecting one another). -- for instance, time has both a subjective side and an objective side. Similarly, space has both subjective and objective sides.
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-- this dialectical relationship between subject & object is central to human freedom & potential (e.g., “finite freedom,” “world openness”). May sees two characteristic over-emphases within psychology: 1. B.F. Skinner is representative of over-emphasis on objective side. 2. Carl Rogers is representative of over-emphasis on subjective side, But, the ability to stay within the human dilemma (without reducing it) is integral to the development of human consciousness and to human creativity. Chapter 2 -- Modern Man’s Loss of Significance Main theme: We’re experiencing a loss of what it means to be an individual -- in the face of collectivist mass-movements in education, communication, technology, entertainment, etc. -- for instance, the character of Willie Loman (from Death of a Salesman ), whose entire “life” was devoted to being a cog in the machine of marketeering and commodity sales. “He never knew who he was.” -- May mentions nuclear war as contributing to the sense of personal insignificance. -- But today, perhaps a better example would be our preoccupation with being entertained and avoiding boredom. (Why do we imbue our entertainers with so much money, status, power, influence, etc.?) -- using technological mass-media as a distraction from life -- connections to prevalence of rage and apathy (a diminishment of consciousness). -- what are people raging about, if not their sense of diminished personal significance? -- why are people so easily bored & apathetic, if not because their lives seem so often empty and insignificant?
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