Psychology Quotes

Psychology of
Human Growth & Transpersonal Education

(Psychology of Change & Transformation)

James Neill
Last updated:
04 Mar 2011

What's New?

  • Psychology of Growth: Self-EsteemBursting the self-esteem bubble
    (David Dent, March/April, 2002, Psychology Today)
    Nicholas Emler, a UK social psychologist, has produced a controversial report which argues that high self-esteem may be detrimental.  For example, high self-esteem seems most dangerous when it colors racial and ethnic tolerance. "People with incredibly positive views of themselves feel anybody who differs from them is an insult," explains Emler. "They just don't like people who are different."  For an opposing view, read Is high self-esteem bad for you? (Robert Campbell & Walter Foddis, 2003, Navigator, 8, The Objectivist Center)
  • By 3-4 years a resilience child should be able to fend for itselfBy 3-4 years a resilient child should be able to fend for itself
    (James Neill, 2004, Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Center)
    Children evolved to have the capacity to be surprisingly independent at young ages, although they are quite vulnerable during the first year.  Rapidly, however, between the ages of 1 and 3, a child blossoms in physical coordination, mental complexity, language and major basic skills of life.
  • Psychological self-help
    (Clayton Tucker-Ladd, 1996)
    This online book reviews many aspects of self-improvement. It provides a system for analyzing any problem into its manageable parts and for planning self-change. It invites you to first carefully consider what you value and want to accomplish in life. It summarizes science's explanations of most human problems and lists promising ways of treating a wide range of unwanted behaviors and emotions, including about 100 self-help methods. In short, this book provides a sound, research-based fund of knowledge about behavior; add to this your own coping experiences and you accumulate a storehouse of general knowledge that will help you understand yourself and gain more control over your life.
  • Article summary: Personal accounts of successful versus failed attempts at life change
    (Heatherton & Nichols, 1994, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin)
    In this study 100+ people wrote stories about their failed and successful attempts at life change (e.g., change in job, relationship, personal behavior, financial).  The characteristics of successful and failed attempts are described, providing a rich glimpse into the phenomenology of possibilities for human change.
  • Vacationers find it difficult to take psychological time off
    (Benedict Carey, May 17, 2004, Los Angeles Times)
    People are working harder than ever and are struggling to relax while on holiday.  Holidayers often report disenchantment with their experiences, but are inclined to look back at past holidays through rose-colored glasses.  In all of this, people seem to be searching for time to be themselves but are coming up empty-handed.
  • What motivates a thrillseeker?
    (Meredith Goad, 24 May, 2004, Portland Press Herald)
    Psychologically, people lie on a continuum with regards to their desire to experience thrill through risk-taking.  Big T's tend to pursue risks in their careers, physical adventure, and are more susceptible to drug use, gambling and other risky behaviors.  Little T's assess risks differently and are more cautious.  Interestingly, this "sensation-seeking" personal attribute is about two-thirds genetically based.  There are also developmental patterns, with risk-taking peaking during adolescence and young adulthood, and lowering after people have children.
  • Colin Wilson: Psychological ideas about human potential
    (James Neill, 2004)
  • Green is good for you: The mental restoration we get from nature has implications for how we design artificial environments
    (Rebecca Clay, 34(2), 2001, American Psychological Association Monitor)
  • Field theory: Kurt Lewin
    (James Neill, 2004)
  • PsychSymposium: Applying ancient wisdom practices to psychology
    (Steven Colmant & Allen Eason, 2004)
  • Psychology of Adventure
    (James Neill, 2004)
  • Psychology of Play
    (Monaro, 1999)
  • Psychology of Time
    (James Neill, 2003)

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Some Key Questions

  • How do humans grow and change psychologically?
  • How can humans be "educated" about their bodies and psyches so as to be effective in leading a holistic life?
  • What theories of psychological growth are important?
  • What psychological change methods and practices can be recommended?

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Brief History of Psychology

1st force psychology

Initially, Western psychology focused on psychodynamics (Freud & all that id, ego, super-ego stuff, etc.).  The idea of psychodynamics is that inner urges conflict with social constraints - and how we resolve these issues becomes a pattern of response that may be pathological.  That was first force psychology, and this approach dominated psychology for several decades around the turn of the 20th century. 

2nd force psychology

In the 1930's-1950's there was a philosophical pendulum swing away from inner psychodynamics towards a science focusing on observable behavior and how it is shaped by the environment.  Second force psychology was known as behaviorism.  This is the idea that human behavior can be understood much as the animals can be understood as a function of inbuilt instincts and behaviors trained through punishment, reward, and modeling, etc. (Watson, Skinner, etc.)

3rd force psychology

In the 1960's, the human potential or human growth movement emerged with a philosophical emphasis on the idea that people have unique inherent capabilities which can be fully realized when humans are valued, supported, provided with meaningful life activity and share and express emotions.  Third force psychology (Rogers, Maslow, etc.) gave rise to terms such as client-centered therapy, peak experiences, self actualization, and group therapy.  Recently third force psychology has received renewed emphasis under the banner of "positive psychology". 

4th force psychology

Third force psychology gave rise, among other things, to fourth force psychology, or transpersonal psychology.  Fourth force psychology includes closer examination of spiritual and religious experiences, altered consciousness, Eastern philosophy, ecopsychology, and so on.

Current theory

By the end of the 20th century, the different forces of psychology had loosely come together with a new emphasis, combining cognitive (the role of thoughts), social (the role of society, culture and social dynamics), and individual differences (the role of intelligence, personality, and constructs such as coping and resilience).

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