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Which famous conception of human being describes a man as being free?

Autor /Piotsmetvet Dodano /30.10.2005

Psychological conceptions of the human being are a kind of personality portraits. They describe who a human is, how he functions, also which laws rule the course of his cognitive and motivating processes. All the psychological conceptions appeals to certain assumptions which apply to a human being. They assume that all people are similar to each other in some way, they have common type characteristics which sometimes allows the generalization of statements. Also, they assume that individuals have some permanent characteristics whose changes are not big. There are outer factors as well influence the form of human behaviour in the permanent way and this allows the explanations and prevision of different human behaviour. Finally, it is be-lieved that the human is a subject isolated from the environment and at the same time a part of a bigger whole. This causes that an individual’s behaviour is regulated by the interaction a man with the environment. Conceptions differ in relation to a definition of a human, they define inter-ests made by him and used strategies differently. They also represent the stability or difference in human nature. They are also divided in respect of human activities which can be driven by a ne-cessity or a free choice.
Psychology distinguishes a lot of psychological conceptions like that. The behaviouristic conception assumes that a human is a reactive system, his behaviour is fully determined by the internal environment, by the system of prizes and punishment surrounding him. According to psychodynamic conception the human behaviour is determined by internal dynamic forces called drives, needs or desires. But there are conflicts between these forces imparting dynamism to an individual and social criteria of a grade whose solution allows an individual adjusting to the world surrounding him/her. The cognitive conception assumes that a human is a system trans-forming information from outside and his/her behaviour depends on interactions between the coming streams of outer information and earlier stored resources of the inner information, in other words the cognitive structures of an individual. The next presented conception is called humanistic which claims that in the human being there is tendency or a need of the growth to-wards, generally speaking, self-modernization, or psychological health, the inner drive to the personal unity, to the spontaneous expressiveness, to the full individuality and identify. But a human being chooses consciously which actions are connected with values preferred by him/her on different staged of his/her way to self-realization.

Let’s look closer at these conceptions:
Behaviouristic conception of a human being is rather a controversial conception. Thorndike, Tolman and Skinner are its among propagators. Its advantages are accuracy and pre-cision are worth physical or mathematical theories. However, it dehumanises people. According to this theory, human behaviour depends on the genetic equipment and the physical social envi-ronment. The system of institutions, mass media and other factors guied a human being. The structure of behaviour becomes in a way a copy of the environmental structure. The human be-haviour is causative because a human can modify the environment. She/he can be guided by the environment, but it is created by people to a high degree. The environment is changing. The exis-tence of inner life is not negated but in the behaviourist’ view it does not influence the behav-iour. Psychology, in their opinion, should be a science totally objective examining only phenom-ena which can be observed like an exact science. Behaviour is not unselfish, it is always an instrument to achieve some goales, so it is instrumental and causative. The consequences of manner we call a strengthener. Positive strengtheners, which are wanted, such a salary, wide so-cial recognition, partner’s love. The negative strengtheners are, widede understood punishment, aversion stimuli. There are a few inborn, primary strengtheners during the social learning of an individual. The main role in steering behaviour is played by the strengtheners. The motivating factor of a human is waiting for positive strengtheners.

The Psychodynamic conception of a human was “born” in psychological hospitals and psychotherapeutic surgeries in contrast to the behaviouristic conception which come into exis-tence in laboratories. The observation of patients became the main recourse of acquiring infor-mation about this conception. The conception itself is very diversity. According to this concep-tion human actions are conditioned by motivational inner forces often unconsciously colliding with each other. The human is an imperfect creature. These mighty forces can fall outside from the control provoking deviant effects. The main aims of this psychology are cognition of the hu-man motivation, the structure of their character, which allow to predict unexpected changes in thinking and actions. The personality in the system of dynamic forces which are called drives or needs. The outside reactions of a human being is the symptom of inner dynamics. Psychoanaly-sis is one of the most known versions of a psychodynamic portrait, which was found by Sigmund Freud at the beginning of the 20th century. It has been modified very much since that time. The discovery of unconscious motivation, the idea of defensive mechanisms and the proof that the first years of life have a decisive influence the development of personality are left from Freud’s psychoanalysis. The drives are a kind of needs which are divided into the primitive drives like food, the sexual drive, the avoidance of pain, the need of contact which the world and the secon-dary drives, which came into existence as the result of socialization, for instance the need of se-curity, social needs, and personal needs recognition. The childhood plays the main role in the process of socialization. The childhood experiences can influence a human life. Alfred Adler discovered that humans possess the need for power. This is the aspiration for power, domination and fame. In Alfred’s opinion, the human needs the power when he feels too weak to make up for his feeling of inferiority and his own complexes. May stated that a lot of people possess “false consciousness” of their needs. They do not say what they aim to but what they should aim as this is the social need. Unconsciousness is a mental/psychic function and not the precise appa-ratus in the brain. The conflicts are created when something unables a human being satisfaction of needs or drives. One can distinguish inner (motivational) conflicts which are created when a man aims to achieve two contradictory aims at the same time. Whereas the outer conflicts are formed when there is an inconsistency between an individuals and other people’s aims. The solu-tion of the conflict leads to satisfaction, its failure to the frustration. The conflict is unavoidable and also unconscious. There were various opinions about conflicts among scientists. Freud thought that this is the inconsistency between the sexual drive and the social taboo. Karen Hor-ney, a famous psychoanalytical, psychotherapist, draws an attention to hostility between an indi-vidual and a group. A lot of contemporary psychoanalysts worry about the conflict between an individuals a needs and dehumanized world.

The human conception in the cognitive psychology, whose creators are Bruner, Simon, Neisser, Rumelhart and Tomaszewski, was trying to create a psychological portrait which would suit the empiric facts. It was less mechanical than the behaviourism and less clinical than the psychoanalysis. The conception is not to homogeneous, but the common root of all of its ver-sions is a statement that a human is an independent subject who decides about himself to a grater extent and generally acts consciously. During his life he acquires, stores, interprets and conveys information with the use of a language and gives it a meaning, a substance. An individual notices the reality, remembers information and thinks analytically as well as creatively. He is an origina-tor, who takes up intentional actions and controls them cognitively. The ability to generate in-formation and knowledge is an individual’s basic ability. All the scientific achievements and the human heritage are created thanks to them. The brain is the cognitive system with constant fea-tures which haven’t changed much since ancient times. Intelligence, special abilities, the system of permanent and new memory, the ability of abstract and creative thinking, language compe-tences as well as the speed of transformation information belong to them. It has been proved that the brain is deceptive and it has its limits and its potential is not absolute.
In the 1940s and 1950s the humanistic psychology appeared. The humanists suggest that not defined behaviour or bounds between humans decide about our lot but our ways of thinking exclusively. Possessing positive beliefs about oneself is thought to be a test of psychic health and a criterion of the proper attitude towards oneself. The human is in a sense a whole, a person aim-ing to the self realization and development. His aims are positive and constructive because a man is good from nature. What decides about human activities and experiences is actual experience. A human as a person, an unrepeated individual, lives in the outer world constituting the whole. If the natural conditions an individual and the social world create a homogenous system. In propi-tious situations, when the relationships among people are appropriate, a human develops as a harmonious whole, he/she lives in accordance with his/her nature. However, a lot of social situa-tions in which hostile, interpersonal relationships and incorrect educational systems unable to form a harmonious person able to self-realization and development. The development is every person’s superior business, and the driving force is his/her need to become a reality him-self/herself. The tool of the development is intuition, especially the ability to intuitive recogni-tion of own inner impulses. The assessment of behaviour can be based on the inner criterion, be-coming a reality oneself and outer, acceptance. Going by the outer criterion may be misleading because it blocks the ability to satisfy the most essential needs. Depending the outer reality on themselves is more important. In the humanistic concept of a human by Abraham Maslow there are two factors. The first one is the theory of needs, so called Maslow’s pyramid, which assumes that the mechanism that steers the human behaviour is the hierarchic order of the need, under-stood by lack of something. The second factor is the above mentioned theory of self-realization, the process of becoming “the person who somebody is.” Both these concepts are used to describe and explain the actions of healthy and disabled people.

Maslow did not create his own system of therapy, yet he took up psychological health. His concept of the hierarchic organization of needs assumes that the higher human needs can be fulfilled only when the lower ones were done. The human being become trustful and full of faith in his/her own power when his psychological needs, affiliations, respect, self-acceptance, love are fulfilled and when he/she feels safe. But this is not enough to guarantee the psychological and physical health. To make it possible to exist, the need of growth or becoming a reality one-self must be fulfilled. It functions according to the rule “the more, the better.” The tension is cre-ated which supplies positive emotions, but the needs themselves can be done independently from the surrounding.

According to Maslow, a healthy person still develops towards the fullest humanity, he/she learns his/her possibilities, fulfils them, and this allows the ideal harmony to live as an in-dividual, yet not every one because not everybody is able to become a reality himself/herself.
In this concept there were also distinguished criteria which fulfilling is to lead to becom-ing oneself a reality. According to them one should accept oneself and the surrounding and also be spontaneous and creative. At the same time one should notice the reality consciously and be open for experiences and tolerate ambiguities. Also, the concentration on a task, autonomy and independence are required. The ability to love and the feeling of a bond with another man are equally important. The last, yet essential, thing is possessing the democratic structure of a char-acter, thanks to which one is open-minded and respects others.

The important statement is, according to Maslow, that human needs are natural and posi-tive, but the culture makes their realization difficult. Becoming a reality oneself can only be achieved by an adult.
Another great man who created his own trend in the humanistic psychology is Carl Rogers. He took up psychotherapy and the many years’ experience in this field allowed him to work out the convincing theory about the personality. The whole therapeutic system which he created he called the therapy concentrated on the client.
According to Rogers, every man creates the so-called phenomenological field. It is a set of our experiences accessible or our consciousness (which is presented symbolically).
Everybody has the inner tendency to realize their experiences as well as recognize the good and evil. A growing-up human begins to distinguish what is his/her own experiences from the rest of the world and in this way the self concept, the positive self concept and the positive relationship among people are created. This process is taught and can lead to becoming a reality oneself.
All of these concepts refer to human freedom differently. In the psychoanalytical sense a human being is a puppet steered by biology and additionally limited by the culture. In the behav-ioristic concept he/she is steered by the factors of a situation. So libido and drives rule him/her. The cognitive psychology sees a human as an explorer. This concept seems to give a human more freedom. The necessity is replaced by freedom. In psychoanalysis and behaviourism a ma-chine can be used as a metaphor describing a man. In the cognitive psychology a computer may be such a metaphor. But the humanistic psychology gives a man the most freedom. According to it, a human is nearly God, the almighty subject. It refuses a belief that a man is steered from out-side and thinks that the inner mechanism steers his/her behaviour. A man being steered by from inside possesses the liberty of a choice of behaviour. He/she becomes a subject and people steered from outside are objects, whose behaviour is the result of outer manipulation. The essen-tial point is that according to the humanistic concept, a man has a chance of constant and con-scious development. He/she achieves the level of harmony when he/she manages his/her re-sources well and when the process of studying is constant. It means that he/she is a healthy person who follows his/her actions and decides about next steps. No forces or drives make us act. This concept is undoubtedly the most humanistic not only in name.

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