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Volume 2 Chapter 5

A collage of men in black and white.

Symbols of Humanistic-Existential Psychology

The Third Force in Psychology

Although the roots of the humanistic-existential (H-E) movement extend far back in human history, it was the 1960 cultural revolution in America that provided a revolutionary jolt to psychology. Tired of the pathologizing of human existence by the psychoanalysts and behaviorists, H-E psychologists rebelled against both schools and created another dynamic and influential field of psychological study.

Humanistic psychology is rooted in the Greek philosophy “to know thyself” and existential psychology is rooted in the Latin meaning to “stand forth,” “to become.” Together, they provide a quite different orientation to psychology. As behaviorism symbolized the influence of the external world, humanistic-existential psychology symbolizes the influence of an internal world, the belief that every human being has a unique, individualized, experience of existence.

In reaction to psychoanalysis and behaviorism, this chapter will focus on how H-E psychologists focused on what made people healthy, alive, and living life with meaning and purpose. H-E psychologists value the importance of human potential, the freedom of expression, and the importance of personal responsibility to not only cope, but grow and develop, from the existential crises of modernity.

Cultural Integration
H-E psychology integrates European and American cultural experiences. Existential psychology developed during the devastating destruction in Europe of two World Wars. In contrast, humanistic psychology is rooted in American optimism, the belief that human beings can “achieve anything” and reach their full potential.

As awareness of the importance of human values inspired the Renaissance hundreds of years ago to rebel against an oppressive church, the H-E movement is a psychological Renaissance rebelling against the new religion of empirical science and behaviorism. The new Renaissance, like the old, rediscovered the value of the inner subjective world and the importance of a personal search for meaning and purpose unencumbered by social conformity. H-E psychology fills a void left by the demise of organized religion and dysfunctional social institutions.

Because H-E is rooted in European and American thought, H-E integrates the intellectual emphasis of the Europeans with the value of feeling and individualism of the Americans. Of all the forces in psychology, if there is a desire for deep intellectual discourse the existential component of H-E offers some of the greatest thinkers in modern history. This includes, but is not limited to, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Martin Buber, Soren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Chapter Symbols

A woman holding her face with her hands.

Fig 5.1-Know Thyself – Stand Forth

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A man with a pile of books on his head.

Fig 5.2 – Anglo-European Thought

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A person with long hair and a white shirt.

Fig 5.3 – Hair the Musical

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A woman standing on a rock near a body of water.

Fig 5.4 – Human Potential Movement

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A peace symbol with a white dove holding guns.

Fig 5.5 – The Peace Movement

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A painting of a group of people.

Fig 5.6 – The Third of May

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A black and white photo of a person's eye and a silhouette of a person's head.

Fig 5.7 – Gestalt Psychology

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A man on a large gear.

Fig 5.8 – Modern Times

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A man dancing in a bubble.

Fig 5.9 – Existential Phenomenology

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A woman's face in a row.

Fig 5.10-Healing through Meeting

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A man holding a knife and a child.

Fig 5.11-Existential Philosophy

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A woman jumping in the air.

Fig 5.12 – Dialectic Paradox

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A group of people sitting at a table.

Fig 5.13 – God is Dead

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A man opening his shirt and smiling.

Fig 5.14 – Superman

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A man standing on a stage with a man in a black suit.

Fig 5.15-Apollo/Dionysus Unity

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A painting of a man standing in a forest.

Fig 5.16 – Dasein

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A man and woman on a building.

Fig 5.17 – Thrownness

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A wind turbines and a man with a beard.

Fig 5.18 – Being and Nothingness

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A black and white drawing of a man holding a rock

Fig 5.19 – Sisyphus and Absurdity

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A woman holding her head with hands and chains.

Fig 5.20 – Escape from Freedom

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A man with a body diagram.

Fig 5.21 – Hierarchy of Needs

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A woman looking at the camera.

Fig 5.22 – Encounter Groups

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A collage of images of people.

Fig 5.23 – The Four Givens

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A group of people walking in a city.

Fig 5.24 – Existential Crisis

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