Carl Rogers and Humanism


Humanism is a philosophical movement that emphasises the personal worth of the individual and the centrality of human values.

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers lived from 1902 to 1987. He believed we were all responsible for our own lives and his outlook on life and "humanism" was very optimistic. He thought we all have a tendency to grow and mature, called Actualization. These were Rogers' beliefs about how we grow as humans in the physical and psychological ways:
Physical: staying alive by eating, keeping warm, avoiding physical danger etc. On a higher level:
Psychological: self-actualization is about testing and fulfilling our capabilities: seek out new experiences, master new skills, quit boring jobs and find more exciting ones etc.

Self congruence

Rogers is sometimes called a self-theorist. He assumed that the self doesn't exist at birth but that infants gradually differentiate self from non-self. He believed humans looked at themselves in two ways: the person we would want to be and the person we actually are. When one is self-actualized, there is congruence between the real and the actual selves. That is you become more like the self you want to be.

Incongruence and Defenses

Rogers' believed in 2 categories of defenses:
1. DISTORTION OF EXPERIENCE: An example is rationalization: creating a plausible but untrue reason for why something is the way it is. OR another distortion of experience is when you try to change you perception of an event from what you really know it to be: you go out with someone other than your partner but tell yourself that it doesn’t matter because your partner won’t mind.

Brittany Fischer, 1st hr AP
Humanistic Perspectives on Personality (2003, October 14). Retrieved January 5, 2009, from