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Existentialism and Humanistic Psychology Essay

Angst, in the very nature of its use in Existentialism, is a state of being that is not completely negative in itself as common people might think. In a more positive sense, I believe angst is the full recognition of one’s freedom. Angst is the result of one’s realization that he is free and that nothing will ever hold him back. It becomes negative because once a person gets a deeper understanding of how free he is, he tends to fear that he might not be able to do things right and since nothing is holding him back, there is nothing to blame in case he fails.

In short, angst is “fear of the nothing” (Park, 1999). It is different from normal fear which comes from the environment and has an object and a possible solution. For example, I fear spiders so I stay away from dusty and old places. The object of the fear is ‘spiders’ and the solution is to ‘stay away from dusty and old places’. In angst, the fear comes from within and there is basically neither object nor solution. There is only angst.

And that is what makes angst a terrible state. I think it is very difficult to feel this way because it is like asking questions with no answers. And if ever I get into this terrible state, I think will do one thing: convince myself to believe that there is nothing to fear and that I have my family who will accept me no matter what. Meanwhile, the whole concept of Humanistic Psychology (the American version of Existentialism, I’ve read) interests me in a special way.

The different theories of Rogers, Maslow, Csikszentmihalyi, among others that I learned from Chapter 13 gave me a step by step understanding into the inquiry of my existence. I can’t conclude though that they all are right but certainly, they provide interesting thoughts worth pondering (especially Rogers’ 19 Propositions). The humanistic theories they present are different from the ones we learned in previous chapters because they focus on the experiences of the human person rather than on things that are inherent or already existing such as biology, genes, or hidden motives.

This means that since the theories of Humanists such as Rogers and Maslow focus on continuing experience of the person, they give a more positive approach knowing that these experiences that shape a person can vary depending on how he reacts to events. In a simpler way, while Bem’s theories seem to say “Your mother has cancer so you will have cancer, too. It’s in the blood” humanists say “Your mother has cancer. With the right attitude and lifestyle, you can prevent having cancer yourself. ” Humanists are a lot friendlier.

I agree with these humanists, for the most part at least. I agree with the general thought of a person’s experience shaping his personality. However, there is one thing I personally disagree based on experience. Rogers said that “this outcome [fully functioning person] could only occur for individuals who had received unconditional positive regard from the important people in their lives” (Funder, 2007). I disagree with this because I know some people who, despite suffering from neglect from the people they love, still feel good about themselves and have great personalities.

On the other hand, I give my nod to Maslow when he said “higher needs such as self-actualization could come to the fore only after more basic needs related to survival and security became satisfied” (Funder, 2007). I personally believe self-fulfillment is a hierarchy and a continuing process. Thoughts on Punishment and Efficacy Theory “Punishment is a useful technique of operant conditioning if it is applied correctly, which it almost never is” (Funder, 2007). I am especially caught by the last phrase of the quote: it almost never is. I think punishment is something that is very tricky.

It is difficult to use in the appropriate way but if you get it right, bingo! It is very effective. What’s wrong with punishment is when one uses it in the wrong way. Self-Efficacy has always been my thing from the start, but I never realized it until I learned about it from our discussion. I have always been a positive thinker even amidst hard times. My working in Intel gives me new challenges every day and because of my belief that I can do all the demands of work, I accomplish them well. I live by the adage “Believe in yourself because if you don’t, nobody else will”. With this, I get more confidence to push on higher.


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