Holotropic Spontaneity and Carl Rogers X

Interestingly, the Freudian resistance to Rogers remains strong in places, despite all the empirical support for his ideas. The nature of that resistance is sometimes instructive, for example I found this recently:

A lot of what Rogers says is unexceptionable — the need for empathy, for being non-directive, for basic trust, for optimism, for ‘growth toward maturity’ and ‘moving toward self-actualization’. But this is embedded in a euphoria and a belief in the basic rationality of people and a trust in ‘the wisdom of the organism’ that I found pretty hard to bear. For example: ‘There is in every organism, at whatever level. an underlying flow of movement toward constructive fulfilment of its inherent possibilities. There is a natural tendency toward complete development in man.’ Child abusers? Pol Pot? Mrs. T[hatcher]? Noriega? Pushers? Pimps?

Review of The Carl Rogers Reader and Carl Rogers: Dialogues by Robert M. Young

(Actually the Freudians seemed to fight rather hard in Rogers’ day, against things they may now find “unexceptionable”.)

The holotropic/organismic spontaneity is “natural”, in a sense “instinctive”, and yet also “a good thing” — this is a major conflict for Freud and the Abrahamistic original sin which he scientised. Pretend this spontaneity isn’t usually blocked from manifesting (by social programming not least) and you can paint Rogers as a polyanna, euphorically deeming everyone “naturally” fine, and in fact wise and rational already, even when they are dictators organising work camps. :) In that world therapy wouldn’t be needed at all of course, but why dampen dogmatic fervour with common sense, after all?

Rogers — certainly a rather guileless man himself, which in my opinion accounts for a good deal of his success — was puzzled by these deliberate non-understandings, and only later grasped the significance of his demonstration that people held the key to their own actualisation:

I see now that I had dealt a double-edged political blow. I had said that most counselors saw themselves as competent to control the lives of their clients. And I had advanced the view that it was preferable simply to free the client to become an independent, self-directing person. I was making it clear that if they agreed with me, it would mean the complete disruption and reversal of their personal control in their counseling relationships…

Carl Rogers on Personal Power (1977)

As often, Rogers and Milton Erickson speak as one here. In addition, those familiar with attachment theory (which in a way is an outgrowth of psychoanalytic thinking on a more evidential basis) will detect that the Rogers formula of safety and empathy was ahead of its time from yet another point of view. Such shifts in personal control are important when it comes to taking spiritual training outside dysfunctional guru relationships too.

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