A Response to Humanistic Psychology


humanistic psychology


Humanistic psychology developed in large part as a reaction to psychoanalysis as practiced in the United States during the early-to-mid twentieth century, whichwas critiqued by humanistic psychologists as being reductive, and dehumanizing. The holding environment in which the client can be “authentic” without judgment forms the basis of the humanistic stance. Humanistic psychology’s roots are found in existential psychotherapy, however, it has deviated from those roots and developed into something uniquely American and amenable to capitalist exploitation. Writers within the humanistic tradition regularly cite psychoanalysis’ shortcomings as the impetus for their work but do not demonstrate an adequate understanding of psychoanalytic practice. With this misunderstand a loss is produced, a loss of the transmission of analytic practice as begun by Freud. We hope to move beyond the misunderstandings and difficulties encountered by humanistic psychologists through critique, first using Buddhist psychology and then by a return to the fundamentals of psychoanalysis. We conclude that our critiques are especially relevant as humanistic psychologists seek to use their theories to position themselves as leaders in struggles for social justice.

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