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When humanistic psychology emerged in the middle of the 20th century, psychology was dominated by behaviorism and psychoanalysis. As this century draws near its end, the historical picture of psychology is significantly different. Although behaviorism has been replaced by the now dominant cognitive psychology in the academy and cognitive behaviorism in the clinic, humanistic psychology and psychoanalysis have been developing, and other alternative approaches, such as constructivist psychology, have asserted themselves. Most historians now broadly characterize psychology as pluralistic. How successful has humanistic psychology been in its impact on psychology over its first two generations? What is its position and critical relationship to this new plurality in psychology? What are the future directions for humanistic psychology? This article will explore these questions in the context of the present historical situation.
To address the nature and the extent of the impact of humanistic psychology on psychology and United States culture, I will summarize my study of how the humanistic movement has been represented and evaluated in textbooks on the history of psychology (Wertz, 1992). This survey suggests a number of important problems and tasks for humanistic psychologists. Then, I will turn to humanistic psychologists for solutions to some of these problems. I argue that the past accomplishments of humanistic psychologists are of tremendous relevance to contemporary psychology and suggest ways in which the movement may enhance its impact in the future.
HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY TEXTBOOKS
I reviewed 24 textbooks on the history of psychology, including 6 that I have followed into second editions. Most of the textbooks published since the late 1970s contain coverage of the Third Force movement. The coverage ranges in form from whole chapters (as much as 42 pages) (Hillner, 1984), to small sections (as little as 2 pages) (Watson, 1978). It is fair to say that the amount of coverage corresponds to the author's view of the movement's importance.
The content of coverage is as variable as the amount.
Precursors. Some texts omit any historical treatment of humanism or of the precursors of the movement and imply that the movement began in American psychology. Other texts cite a host of antecedents, including the early Greeks, Italian renaissance thinkers, Vico, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Windelband, Dilthey, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Tillich, Buber, Adler, Allport, Homey, Stumpf, Kulpe, James, Binswanger, Boss, David Katz, Goldstein, van Kaam, Frankl, Buhler, MacCleod, May, Child, Snygg and Combs, Fromm, Erikson, and William Stern. It is difficult to decipher why a particular text cites a particular precursor. Those who present the premoderns tend to be the most favorable to the movement, and those who fail to present the modern philosophical influences tend to be the most unfavorable. The most important problems suggested by this are, first, the need to recognize the long historical tradition of which the movement is a part; second, to discern the basic principles of this movement so as to make explicit its unity and to derive principles of inclusion; and finally, to consistently carry forward the essence of this tradition.
Zeitgeist. Some historians (e.g., Leahey, 1987; Schultz & Schultz, 1987) trace the movement to the social zeitgeist of the 1960s, the protest against the status quo of mechanization, dehumanization, bureaucratization, deindividualization, powerlessness, and phoniness of humankind. Few of these historians emphasize the innovation and promotion of values, policies, and practices that facilitate human dignity, freedom, power, individuality, and honesty in this context. It is interesting that those historians who emphasize this zeitgeist's connection with the movement offer the darkest picture of its status. For instance, Leahey (1987) discredits humanistic psychology in a parallel with the hippie movement. This suggests the need to clarify the movement's present sociopolitical position and agenda. Clearly, humanistic psychology emerged with a definite role in the process of sociohistorical change, and the focus of this dimension of the movement may now need to be reviewed and renewed.
Institutionalization. There is not much stress in these texts on institutionalization, perhaps due to its scarcity. The Association for Humanistic Psychology, the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and the American Psychological Association's (APA's) Division of Humanistic Psychology (32) are sometimes mentioned, and even less frequently other related journals and educational programs. The lack of institutionalization is sometimes attributed to the movement's predominant practitioner constituency. The problem here is the establishment of forums for the development, expression, and especially teaching of humanistic psychology, which, as they now stand, may not provide for future generations of humanistic psychologists.
Completeness of characterization. The textbooks that I would call grossly incomplete (e.g., Murray, 1983) tend to reduce the movement to prescientific attitudes (such as emphasizing the good in people) and therapeutic practices (such as those used by Rogers, Perls, or Ellis). More complete texts (e.g., Leahey, 1987; Schultz & Schultz, 1987; Stagner, 1988) give expositions of key figures, always including and often limited to Maslow and Rogers, critiques of mainstream psychology, and general theoretical principles (e.g., freedom, holism) of the movement. The two texts with substantially reduced coverage in the latest edition (Marx & Cronan-Hillix, 1987; Watson & Evans, 1991) are of this type. Most texts (e.g., Brennan, 1982; Hergenhahn, 1986, 1992; Hilgard, 1987; Hillner, 1984; Kendler, 1987; Murphy & Kovach, 1972) attempt to go beyond the work of Rogers and Maslow, as well as the enumeration of particular theoretical postulates, to integrate the diverse strands of phenomenology, existentialism, and humanism with an emphasis on the nature of science, philosophical underpinnings of psychology, and methodological issues. These authors often struggle with the problem of whom to include in the movement, for instance in the cases of Allport and Kelly. The texts with expanded coverage in the most recent edition (Brennan, 1991; Hergenhahn, 1992) are of this type, and expansion is chiefly in the area of philosophical foundations.
What is clear from this is the danger of an emphasis on therapeutic practices, even theoretical pioneers and principles, without focal attention to philosophical, metascientific, and methodological principles. The task is to articulate these latter principles in a manner that puts therapeutic practice and particular theoreticians and their postulates into a more comprehensive perspective.
Evaluation. There is considerable discrepancy concerning the value, present status, and future contribution of the movement. To some authors, the Third Force is a thing of the past with very limited impact and value (Leahey, 1987; Stagner, 1988; Wertheimer, 1987). Others give the movement a mixed review, ranging from mostly negative (Brennan, 1982, 1991; Murray, 1983; Schultz & Schultz, 1987) to viewing the movement as a positive approach with continuing value in a pluralistic field of orientations (Hilgard, 1987; Hillner, 1984;). There are some texts that, despite criticisms, view the movement's achievements as historically significant and see a continuing potential to revolutionize psychology as a whole in a legitimate and valuable way (Hergenhahn, 1992; Kendler, 1987).
The following are among the recognized positive contributions: the introduction into modern psychology of a relevant historical tradition, important social criticism and progressive reform, valid criticism of dominant trends in mainstream psychology, new psychotherapeutic orientations and procedures, new topics for research (change, growth, health, self-perception, locus of control, self-disclosure, values, creativity, love, death), methods and methodology tailored for research on humans, phenomenological knowledge, theoretical principles (e.g., meaning, freedom, intentionality, self-actualization), integration of traditional research and theories within a more comprehensive framework, a sophisticated philosophy of science and metapsychology, and a fruitful dialog with the humanities.
The negative evaluations included the following: The movement is more a common sense attitude of valuing and respecting people, often amounting to sappy sentimentality, than a scientific discipline. The movement's protests outweigh its positive contributions. The critiques of mainstream psychology are now outdated and no longer apply. The movement has had more impact on psychotherapeutic practice than on the explanation of behavior. The movement is vague in its objectives, fragmented in its achievements, and contains no discernible principles of unity. Rigorous research methods have been lacking. The introduction of new topics, which should be and have been studied in traditional ways, does not revolutionize psychology. The topics of mainstream psychology have not been researched. The theories have not been defined and tested sufficiently according to scientific standards. The promise to interrelate psychology with the humanities has not been fulfilled. Many of these problems are attributed to the movement's large proportion of practitioners, as opposed to researchers, and its failure to establish a place for itself in academic institutions.
An overall positive evaluation of the movement occurs when it is seen as (a) an authentic recovery and extension of early Greek, Renaissance, and Romantic thought; (b) a heterogeneous and yet essentially unified group including, beyond Rogers and Maslow, existential and phenomenological psychologists; (c) rooted in a sophisticated alternative philosophy and theory of science, (d) offering a rigorous, original research methodology aimed at the distinctive characteristics of human subject matter. This suggests the need to promote and emphasize these four dimensions of the movement that the critics seem to have missed.
Treatment of the movement in history of psychology texts is very uneven. The movement is grasped in only a small way by some historians. Although others have attempted an admirably comprehensive treatment, …