THE PSYCHOLOGY OF EXPERIENCE

The concept ‘Psychology of experience’ is new but is based on the old roots of three prominent psychologists A. Adler, C.G. Jung and C.R. Rogers. The Centre for the Psychology of Experience uses their insights as a foundation for the further development and innovation of the function of the unconscious and its influence on the behaviour of people. We give a short overview of the three psychologists and under this overview we give a consideration of the current developments


Alfred Adler

His contribution to the psychology of experience

Centrum voor Belevingspsychologie - Alfred Adler

The first foundation of the psychology of experience was laid by Adler, an Austrian psychologist and psychiatrist who was born in Vienna on 7 February 1870 and who died on 28 May 1937 at the age of 67. He came up with the concept of ‘will to power’. He said about this that inferiority is a determining element for the will to power. In the ACT measurement these starting points are strongly mentioned and processed in the underlying model.

The first foundation of the psychology of experience was laid by Adler, an Austrian psychologist and psychiatrist who was born in Vienna on 7 February 1870 and who died on 28 May 1937 at the age of 67. He came up with the concept of ‘will to power’. He said about this that inferiority is a determining element for the will to power. In the ACT measurement these starting points are strongly mentioned and processed in the underlying model.

Alfred Adler

Adler was, just like Carl Gustav Jung a contemporary of Sigmund Freud. Apart from Freud and Jung Adler is regarded as the third progenitor of the Psychoanalysis. The second similarity with Jung is that Adler also ended the cooperation with the ideas of Freud after some years. He even did this a year before Jung, namely in 1911. After that, he established his own school, which was the school of the Individual psychology; the school Jung also was part of.
As a psychoanalyst, Adler researched processes in the unconscious and the conscious that were believed to form and control the personality. He developed the concept of ‘inferiority complex’ which means having strong feelings of inferiority and insecurity, arising from reasonable or imagined shortcomings, mostly coming from one’s early childhood. He also believed that the strongest human motive is the desire for a sense of superiority.

The young child
Alfred Adler distinguished between two negative kinds of upbringing:
Too much attention is the most important cause of feelings of dependency. Parents who feel that their children should not cry or be upset, make that their children are not resilient. These children will not be able, later on in their lives, to stand up for themselves. If children are neglected on the other hand, that is not giving a child rules or love, then Adler believes that these children grow up to be cold and suspicious. As adults, they are no able to give and receive love. Rules, love and respect are the foundation for a healthy development.
Adler is the spiritual father of a number of concepts that still used in our everyday language, such as the concept of inferiority complex. Even if the upbringing of a child is positive, then the child can still feel inferior. Someone can have a speech handicap or another handicap or become poor etc. Adler states that everyone who is in a position of arrears will try to get rid of these arrears. Adler calls such a focus to transfer a situation that is experienced as less desirable than a situation that is experienced as valuable, will for compensation. If this focus takes on extreme forms, then he calls this overcompensation.

Central theory
The term ‘the creative self’ is what people call the crown jewel of Alfred Adler. A person is born with some features: male/ female, poor/ rich, peace/ war. Race and religion are also determining factors for who you are. Adler calls these the cards that life has dealt for you. ‘But’, he says, ‘you can decide for yourself how to deal with these facts. You are the product of your experiences and you can shape your personality.’
Adler also states that the place you have in the parental family, is determining for your personality. The first-born will get too much attention and tends to become spoilt. The middle child will try to dethrone the first-born. The third child will get too little attention and care and has the chance to develop an inferiority complex.
Another important theory of Adler is that all human behaviour is purposeful and the meaning of someone’s behaviour can only be correctly understood if the aims of this person are known. The point of view that behaviour is determined by aims is the foundation for therapy and rehabilitation. It provides the possibility of change: we cannot change history, but we can change someone’s intentions.
Furthermore, Adler states, a person is a social being. We can only really understand human behaviour from its social meaning. It is this social nature of a person that is the foundation for the ‘need to belong’. Adler calls this Gemeinschaftsgefül (community spirit).

Course of life
Alfred was the third of seven children of Hungarian – Jewish parents. In 1904 he converted to becoming Protestant. From the moment he was born, he was often ill. As a little child he suffered from rachitis which lead to weakness of his skeleton. When he was five years old, he nearly died of pneumonia. In the course of the years he developed a strong will to overcome his physical weaknesses and he decided to become a doctor. He studied medicine at the University of Vienna, where Freud had also studied. Adler had many socialist friends here. He, for example, met his later wife Raissa Timofeyewna Epstein here. She was a social activist from Russia. They got married in 1897 and they had four children, of whom two also became a psychiatrist.
During and after his medical study, Adler studied the possibilities of the human body to compensate for shortcomings. He saw a link between diagnosed physical problems and (possible) psychological consequences of that. The article that he published about this topic in 1907, drew the attention of Sigmund Freud. Adler joined the psychoanalytic group of Freud, but soon he developed his own ideas on the nature of human motivation and human behaviour. These ideas differed strongly from Freud’s ideas.
Adler left the group in 1911 and he continued his line of thinking, he called this Individual psychology. By the time of 1920, Adler has systematically processed his range of ideas and he had formulated practical applications that were a support for all sorts of people. He had high esteem as a psychiatrist and as a children’s therapist. Until his death, in 1937, he continued developing his theory and he continued to expand his professional influence.

Carl Gustav Jung

His contribution to the psychology of experience

Centrum voor Belevingspsychologie - Carl Gustav Jung

The second foundation for the psychology of experience was laid by Carl Gustav Jung, born 26 July 1875 and who died on 6 June 1961.
The ACT measurement is based on his contribution about shadow and the collective unconscious and the archetypical symbols connected to it. The measurement is about symchetypical images because archetypical images are collective and symchetypical images (a name that ACT had invented) are part of the personal unconscious.

Collective unconscious and archetypes

Jung believed that the essence of a personality is formed – except by the personal consciousness – largely by what he called the collective. This is a so-called epigenetic (irreversible hereditary changes) inherited part of the unconscious; a mental area that – according to his theory – is shared by all representatives of a race or species. Jung based the theory of archetypes on this. these archetypes, concepts such as the shadow, the eternal young man, the evil spirit, the hero etc. were, as it were, handed down, functional primal motives or ‘experience modalities’ that structure the personality of a person. Archetypes are possibilities or tendencies to develop in a certain way. They are expressed in images that can be often found in our dreams, but they are also expressed in fairy-tales and myths and they are the experience material of each religion.
Jung also launched the idea that archetypes are the foundation of cultural development, at various places – separated from each other – places in the world. Certain similar ways of thinking and images should, therefore, not only be linked to physical descent or to migration of nations.

Individuation

The central goal of Jungian psychology is the process of self-realization or individuation. Apart from the ‘I’ or ‘ego’ Jung acknowledges the self: a totality around the ‘I’ that contains both the conscious as well as the unconscious part of the personality. This unconscious part, meaning the personal unconscious, is able to contact the deeper layer of the collective unconscious, of which the personal unconscious is basically a particularization, therefore as it were an upper layer. The collective unconscious is basically without boundaries and the lowest layers of it can even never become conscious. The realization of the self is a process that is characterized by uniting the contradictions in a person, such as good and evil, light and shadow, inside and outside.

Typology

Jung is perhaps most famous for his typology. In his book Psychological types dated from 1921 he wrote about four basic types of the human personality. Jung stated contrasting functions against each other: thinking and feeling, perception (observation) and intuition, with regard to which each function is – as it were – the pole of a circle, symbolising the self. One of those poles is dominant for each of the basic types, this is our ‘superior function’. Another additional, important factor is whether the psyche is focused on the inside (introverted) or is focused on the outside (extraverted).

Analytical psychology

Jung’s system is so comprehensive that years of study were necessary to apply the analytical therapy developed by him. He founded his theories on both his experiences in his clinical practice as well as on mythology, the religious psychology and his knowledge of the symbolic world (comparative symbolism where imagination, fantasy and intuition were focused on). In order to detect the contents of the collective unconscious, he studied – amongst other things – the symbolic world of the visionary and the world of the alchemists in-depth. He could sometimes retrieve these images in the visions of his patients. His work is characterized – just like the work of Freud – by a large number of new concepts and principles, such as the concept synchronicity, being introverted or extraverted etc.

Course of life

From 1900 Jung worked as a psychiatrist in the Burghölzi-clinic near Zurich. The director of this clinic was Eugen Bleuler. By the end of the nineteenth century and in the beginning of the twentieth century, Burghölzi was a leading centre for European psychiatry. In this clinic Jung studied – amongst other things – the psychological side of dementia Praecox (later known as schizophrenia) and he also developed some association tests. Jung studied in Paris for six months in 1903 and he resigned in 1909, because he was annoyed about the anti-Freudian attitude of the institute. Jung now focused more on his psychoanalytical approach and he established himself as independent psychiatrist. His reputation grew in such a way that he could see many famous patients from his own country and from abroad. One of his patients was Herman Hesse.
After the cooperation with Freud a period of reorientation started for Jung. He resigned as teacher at the University of Zurich in 1913, where he had worked since 1905. He now concentrated on his own practice, on his research and publications and apart from this he made some long journeys, from 1920 on, to – amongst other places – Asia, Middle America and tropical Africa. Here he would meet the Elgon people in West Kenya and the Pueblo Indians in Mexico which was of essential meaning of the way he would think about the mental schizophrenia of the Western people.
When he returned to Switzerland, Jung accepted a teaching appointment at the Technical Univeristy of Applied Sciences in Zurich in 1933 – from 1935 onwards he was appointed extraordinary professor – and he kept teaching here until 1942. From 1944 onwards Jung was active as professor at the University of Basel. In this same year Jung almost died, as a consequence of serious heart failure. The visions he had during this experience had an important influence on his magnum opus, the Mysterium Coniunctionis, in which he describes the process of gaining mental unity based on the teachings of Alchemy.
During his last years Jung continued to work on his theory of the collective unconscious and the meaning of religion for the human psyche. Furthermore, he became friends with the English priest Victor White, with whom he had profound discussions as a result of his interpretation of the book of the Bible about Job.
At the request of his many followers he was involved personally with the establishment of the C.G. Jung institute by Marie-Louise von Franz which would propagate his psychology. Jung died on 6 June 1961 at the age of 85. He died in Küsnacht, where he was buried on 9 June 1961.

Carl Rogers

His contribution to the psychology of experience

Centrum voor Belevingspsychologie - Carl Ransom Rogers

The third foundation of the psychology of experience was laid by Carl R(ansom) Rogers, born on 8 January 1902 and who died on 8 February 1987. Our philosophy of Human Being Management is an expansion of and a specific application of his philosophy of humanistic psychology. He applied the principle of ‘unconditional appreciation’, which is expressed – within the context of the psychology of experience – in sessions with the ACT measurement under the condition that ‘the Client is always right’. It means fully and unconditionally accepting a person ‘without harming one’s fundamental values by a negative assessment’.

Rogers has explained his ideas on the ‘growth of the personality’ or in other words his Rogerian psychology, in a number of books and articles. The foundation of his theory about human behaviour can be found – amongst other things – in the following statements:

• The individual is a subject and not an object that can be dissected, judged and manipulated.
• It is more important how a person experiences something than what it is in reality. Or, as Rogers stated, ‘His experience is his reality’. For Rogers the subjective world of an individual in the presence is more important than the objective reality.

For the therapist this means that he sees the world through the eyes of his client: he experiences the emotions of the client, while he nevertheless keeps his emotional distance (non-directive). This is the base of his Rogerian therapy, better known as client-centred psychotherapy.

With regard to the psychology of experience this form of therapy is the closure of a journey that started from the range of ideas of Alfred Adler about the will to power (by the psychologist of experience more fundamentally described as self-worth) and Carl Jung his individuation process in which the shadow is regarded as contradiction that is allowed to become conscious.
The contribution of Rogers is that the fact that he has emphasised the humanistic nature: that we are humans and from this starting-point we can grow and develop so a unity arises.
He was one of the first to accept the person no matter how the person presented himself or herself to him. He also listened without judgement – based on his relationship with the client - to moral questionable situations and he accepted them objectively.
Founded on this he has made various statements, of which we will now present the following:

• In some circumstances there is no threat at all for the I-structure, inconsistent experiences can be observed and inquired after and the I-structure is adapted in order or to assimilate such experiences.
• If the individual in all its sensory and internal perceptions can integrate into one consistent I-structure, then he will inevitable understand others better and he will accept them as separate individuals.

As an individual perceives and accepts more of his organic (meaningful) experiences, then his personal system of values – which is strongly founded on the internalization of twisted symbols – will be replaced by a continuous changing process of appreciation.

Course of life
Rogers was the fourth of six children of very religious parents. Initially he wanted to become a preacher. In the end he was offered a doctorate in psychology in Colombia in 1931. He worked for twelve years as a clinician in Rochester. The publication of his first book was in 1939. He was offered a position at the Ohio State University in 1940, where he explained his theory treatment and he was the president of the American Psychological Association from 1946 up to 1947. His publication about the client-centred therapy dates from 1951. He died in 1987 after surgery for a broken hip.

PSYCHOLOGY OF EXPERIENCE

A further detailing
Introduction.
The psychology of experience as this is propagated by the Centre of the Psychology of Experience is not only founded on the theories of the above-mentioned three people. Even though they laid the foundation, after them there have been many others who have laid the foundation even firmer by their range of thoughts and by research and thought experiments.
We describe herewith some people who have made an important contribution to the psychology of experience. This list is absolutely not complete and it is also not objective. We, the Centre of the Psychology of Experience have made a choice based on our view how we believe the psychology of experience could be interpreted and this is by definition not objective. We strive for a coherent and consistent image of the psychology of experience. We do this based on a scientific scope in such a way that the described characteristics, effects, methods of work etc. can be verifiable as much as possible and will also have the highest level of falsifiability.

Further foundation
Many have made a contribution to expand the basis of the psychology of experience further and to give it a deeper foundation. We give per writer/ researcher a short summary of what his or her work has contributed to a better and more fundamental foundation of the psychology of experience. It goes without saying that this – as a description of the total contribution of the writer/ researcher – is incomplete. For a total view you should read the complete works of the writer/ researcher concerned.
Moreover, we should state this again, we place the description in the scope of the psychology of experience as it can be described now, and based on the knowledge we have today. As Jung would say: “this is the best that I can deliver, I am open for any reasonable improvement of my point of view”.

Here we give the various names of them, who have made a contribution by their work.

Robert Assagioli
James Hilman
Abraham Maslow
Erich Neumann


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