There may be a movement toward defense, toward safety, toward being afraid; but over on the other side, there is the growth choice. To make the growth choice instead of the fear choice a dozen times a day is to move a dozen times a day toward self-actualization. Self-actualization is an ongoing process ; it means making each of the many single choices about whether to lie or be honest, whether to steal or not to steal at a particular point, and it mans to make each of these choices as a growth choice.
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This is movement toward self-actualization. A human being is not a tabula rasa , not a lump of clay or Plasticine. A human being is, at minimum, his temperament, his biochemical balances, and so on. Frequently, when we are in doubt we are not honest.
Clients are not honest much of the time. They are playing games and posing. They do not take easily to the suggestion to be honest. Looking within oneself for many of the answers implies taking responsibility. That is in itself a great step toward actualization. This matter of responsibility has been little studied.
Yet it is an almost tangible part of psychotherapy. In psychotherapy, one can see it, can feel it, can know the moment of responsibility. Then there is a clear knowing of what it feels like. This is one of the great steps. Each time one takes responsibility, this is an actualizing of the self. All these are steps toward self-actualization, and all of them guarantee better life choices.
A person who does each of these little things each time the choice point comes will find that they add up to better choices about what is constitutionally right for him. He comes to know what his destiny is, who his wife or husband will be, what his mission in life will be. It is, for example, a matter of becoming smarter by studying if one is an intelligent person. Self-actualization can consist of finger exercises at a piano keyboard.
Self-actualization means working to do well the thing that one wants to do. To become a second-rate physician is not a good path to self-actualization. One wants to be first-rate or as good as he can be.
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They are moments of ecstasy which cannot be bought, cannot be guaranteed, cannot even be sought. There is a subtle but extremely important difference between regarding psychopathology as blocking or evasion or fear of growth toward self-actualization, and thinking of it in a medical fashion, as akin to invasion from without by tumors, poisons or bacteria, which have no relationship to the personality being invaded. Growth has not only rewards and pleasures but also many intrinsic pains and always will have.
Each step forward is a step into the unfamiliar and is possibly dangerous.
It also means giving up something familiar and good and satisfying. It frequently means a parting and a separation, even a kind of death prior to rebirth, with consequent nostalgia, fear, loneliness and mourning. It also often means giving up a simpler and easier and less effortful life, in exchange for a more demanding, more responsible, more difficult life.
Growth forward is in spite of these losses and therefore requires courage, win, choice, and strength in the individual, as well as protection, permission and encouragement from the environment, especially for the child. It is therefore useful to think of growth or lack of it as the resultant of a dialectic between growth-fostering forces and growth-discouraging forces regression, fear, pains of growth, ignorance, etc. Growth has both advantages and disadvantages. Non-growing has not only disadvantages, but also advantages. The future pulls, but so also does the past.
There is not only courage but also fear. The total ideal way of growing healthily is, in principle, to enhance all the advantages of forward growth and all the disadvantages of not-growing, and to diminish all the disadvantages of growth forward and all the advantages of not-growing. But they are quite necessary and not always pathological. They are generally prepotent over growth-tendencies.
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All this implies a naturalistic system of values, a by-product of the empirical description of the deepest tendencies of the human species and of specific individuals. The study of the human being by science or by self-search can discover where he is heading, what is his purpose in life, what is good for him and what is bad for him, what will make him feel virtuous and what will make him feel guilty, why choosing the good is often difficult for him, what the attractions of evil are.
A neurosis is not part of the inner core but rather a defense against or an evasion of it, as well as a distorted expression of it under the aegis of fear. It is ordinarily a compromise between the effort to seek basic need gratifications in a covert or disguised or self-defeating way, and the fear of these needs, gratifications and motivated behaviors.
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To express neurotic needs, emotions, attitudes, definitions, actions, etc. Each neuroticized need, or emotion or action is a loss of capacity to the person, something that he cannot do or dare not do except in a sneaky and unsatisfying way. In addition, he has usually lost his subjective well-being, his will, and his feeling of self-control, his capacity for pleasure, his self-esteem, etc.
He is diminished as a human being. The state of being without a system of values is psychopathogenic, we are learning. The human being needs a framework of values, a philosophy of life, a religion or religion-surrogate to live by and understand by, in about the same sense that he needs sunlight, calcium or love. Historically, we are in a value interregnum in which all externally given value systems have proven to be failures political, economic, religious, etc.
What man needs but doesn't have, he seeks for unceasingly, and he becomes dangerously ready to jump at any hope, good or bad. The cure for this disease is obvious.
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Much disturbance in children and adolescents. As a consequence, many youngsters in the United States live not by adult values but by adolescent values, which of course are immature, ignorant and heavily determined by confused adolescent needs. At the level of self-actualizing, many dichotomies become resolved, opposites are seen to be unities and the whole dichotomous way of thinking is recognized to be immature. For self-actualizing people, there is a strong tendency for selfishness and unselfishness to fuse into a higher, superordinate unity.
Work tends to be the same as play; vocation and avocation become the same thing. When duty is pleasant and pleasure is fulfillment of duty, then they lose their separateness and oppositeness. The highest maturity is discovered to include a childlike quality, and we discover healthy children to have some of the qualities of mature self-actualization. The inner-outer split, between self and all else, gets fuzzy and much less sharp, and they are seen to be permeable to each other at the highest levels of personality development.
Dichotomizing seems now to be characteristic of a lower level of personality development and of psychological functioning; it is both a cause and an effect of psychopathology. One especially important finding in self-actualizing people is that they tend to integrate the Freudian dichotomies and trichotomies, i. The impulses are more expressed and less controlled; the controls are less rigid, inflexible, anxiety-determined. The superego is less harsh and punishing and less set off against the ego. The primary and secondary cognitive processes are more equally available and more equally valued instead of the primary processes being stigmatized as pathological.
This is in sharp contrast with the early Freudian position in which these various forces were sharply dichotomized as a mutually exclusive, b with antagonistic interests, i. Again we imply here sometimes a healthy unconscious, and desirable regression. Furthermore, we imply also an integration of rationality and irrationality with the consequence that irrationality may, in its place, also be considered healthy, desirable or even necessary.
Healthy people are more integrated in another way. In them the conative, the cognitive, the affective and the motor are less separated from each other, and are more synergic, i. The conclusions of rational, careful thinking are apt to come to the same conclusions as those of the blind appetites. What such a person wants and enjoys is apt to be just what is good for him. His spontaneous reactions are as capable, efficient and right as if they had been thought out in advance.
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His sensory and motor reactions are more closely correlated. His sensory modalities are more connected with each other physiognomical perception. Furthermore, we have learned the difficulties and dangers of those age-old rationalistic systems in which the capacities were thought to be arranged dichotomously-hierarchically, with rationality at the top, rather than in an integration.
This development toward the concept of a healthy unconscious, and of a healthy irrationality, sharpens our awareness of the limitations of purely abstract thinking, of verbal thinking and of analytic thinking. If our hope is to describe the world fully, a place is necessary for preverbal, ineffable, metaphorical, primary process, concrete-experience, intuitive and esthetic types of cognition, for there are certain aspects of reality which can be cognized in no other way.
Abstract knowledge has its dangers as well as its uses. Science and education, being too exclusively abstract, verbal and bookish, don't have enough place for raw, concrete, esthetic experience, especially of the subjective happenings inside oneself.
For instance, organismic psychologists would certainly agree on the desirability of more creative education in perceiving and creating art in dancing, in Greek style athletics and in phenomenological observation. The ultimate of abstract, analytical thinking, is the greatest simplification possible, i.
Our mastery of the world is enhanced thereby, but its richness may be lost as a forfeit, unless we learn to value B-cognitions, perception-with-love-and-care, free-floating attention, all of which enrich the experience instead of impoverishing it. This ability of healthier people to dip into the unconscious and preconscious, to use and value their primary processes instead of fearing them, to accept their impulses instead of always controlling them, to be able to regress voluntarily without fear, turn out to be one of the main conditions of creativity.
We can then understand why psychological health is so closely tied up with certain universal forms of creativeness aside from special-talent , as to lead some writers to make them almost synonymous. And it leads us to the strong suspicion that learning ad hoc to be able to do all these things may help the child move toward health.