Humanistic Psychology & Self Actualization

Humanistic Psychology & Self Actualization



Humanistic Psychology & Self Actualization


The essay, Humanistic Psychology and Self-Actualization, by Jonathan Freedman provides a considerable argument concerning the connection or association between humanistic psychology and the concept of self-actualization. In a concise elucidation, humanistic psychology concentrates on the manner in which personality should develop (Schneider, 2001). This is because personality is not a single entity but rather a combination of unique skills, talents and abilities. As such, association between humanistic psychology and self-actualization acknowledges that individuals should be free to express their unique abilities in a non-restrictive environment that allows them to maximize their potential, hence, undergo self-actualization (Freedman, n.d.). Nonetheless, reviewing Freedman’s argument embraces the inclusion of vital components that the author utilizes in order to relay his contentions to the respective reader. As such, a critique of the essay by Freedman will include the perspectives derived by the author in addressing his argument to the reader and the manner in which he provides such arguments as well as a personal perspective regarding the argument through assessment of the article’s organizational context.

The argument presented by Freedman focuses on the integration of humanist concepts based on personality development. One of the main points raised by Freedman in the essay involves the development of personality in childhood. Indeed, Freedman illustrates his support for humanism in the sense that he attempts to explain the role of humanistic psychology in ensuring personality development and thus, self-actualization. Additionally, Freedman highlights a factor within the Nature versus Nurture debate in personality development by asserting the importance of the environment in personality development and self-actualization (DeCarvalho, 2000). Furthermore, the author also integrates the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Motives’ concept in the development of self-actualization with respect to the nature of the environment. Freedman further supports his humanistic argument by using Freud’s assertion on needs as a contrast of Maslow’s self-actualization concept regarding the influence of needs (Hanley & Abell, 2002). In conclusion, Freedman affirms the effect of a restricted environment on discouraging expression of one’s own desires and abilities and as such, the development of self-actualization.


Rhetorical Situation and Organization

Author. The manner in which Freedman presents his argument evokes an impersonal and objective read for the reader. Foremost, Freedman expresses his objectivity by avoiding use of the First Person tense. Even though his arguments concentrate on self-actualization and the role of humanism, Freedman exemplifies his objectivity by speaking in the Third Person in presenting his argument. Additionally, the arguments provided by Freedman evoke the question of credibility regarding the opinions exemplified within the text. As such, Freedman’s credibility is dependent on the opinions he provides objectively. In expressing his arguments within the text, Freedman outlines the factors that appeal to his ethos.

One such factor is strict parents. According to Freedman, a strict environment intrudes an individual’s development. As such, Freedman expresses his view of the factor that denunciates self-actualization in order to connect with the reader on a more personal perspective. Alternately, in ensuring further connection with the reader, Freedman focuses on a general topic that is familiar to every individual. Nonetheless, Freedman further connects with the audience by asserting that the real personality of a person reveals itself when challenged by the pressure of the world. Irrespective of his arguments, Freedman gains limitations from his lack of numerous resources to support his contentions. Furthermore, the author exudes his morals and values by expressing the effect of a strict society in eliminating self-actualization.

Motivation/Purpose. Indeed, the humanistic approach towards self-actualization by Freedman focused on the social and personal reasons. Such reasons such as his view on the concealment of true character and personality provide the incentive to influence the author. Following from this assertion, it is evident that the value of being true to oneself motivates the purpose of the essay. In addition, the author’s general purpose focuses on vetting for the freedom of expression and expunging the disadvantages restricting self-expression. This purpose provides a follow-up regarding Freedman’s specific purpose, which is the advocacy for individualism, self-expression and actualization.

Audience. With respect to the argument that Freedman provides, it is evident that his target audience is the youth, specifically teenagers who possess limited freedom of choice or expression. Since the targeted audience comprises teenagers, the author’s focus also appeals to parents based on his emphasis on the role of parents in the creation of an ideal environment that will encourage their children to make their own decisions. The audience also shares similar values and opinions that are similar to the author’s sentiments. Preferably, such values and opinions comprise the belief in freedom of expression and the want for self-actualization. Nonetheless, irrespective of the shared sentiments the audience conveys with Freedman, various opinions before reading the text gain thought, such as the opposition towards providing entire freedom of choice to teenagers.

Topic & Context. Even though the subject matter that Friedman focuses on occupies studies on psychology, the topic is mainly cultural based on its focus on society and its detrimental effect of people’s needs. Nonetheless, the relation of the subject to cultural norms enables Freedman to inculcate matters of taboos that appeal to the audience in general such as sexual needs and aggression. As such, the concepts used by Freedman from Maslow and Freud in discussing needs presents a controversial side of the subject due to the pair of opposing views emanating from both Freud and Maslow. Moreover, Freedman’s reference to other psychologists indicates the presence of past debates regarding this topic especially on personality development. On a different note, it is evident that Freedman’s study gains influence from ideas and values of American individualists as well as previous literary works especially American literature. However, regardless of the text’s historical context especially regarding its influence from American individualists, it is still clear that the text’s context lacks chronology. It is also evident that the text comprises a context based on the contribution of a person’s psychology in self-actualization.


Indeed, the article’s organization also plays a part in conveyance to the intended audience. Foremost, the article embraces a unified approach since its content focuses mainly on the development of personality. Consequently, the ideas within the article are coherent due to repetition even though Freedman limits the use of transitions. The article’s introduction, irrespective of the article’s controversial content, is usual and thus unappealing to the reader. Alternately, even though the thesis and chief ideas receive effective presentation through mentioned examples, the article still requires more organization. Nonetheless, the article, in appealing to the reader, possesses the main ideas, which are crucial to comprehend even though the style used does not affect such comprehension. Subsequently, since the article is a debatable focus on self-actualization, it possesses counter arguments against the proposals provided. This organizational trait provides an opportunity to initiate a turning point based on Freedman’s inculcation of the effect of the environment on a person’s self-actualization and the introduction of Maslow’s concept to cement Freedman’s argument further. Moreover, Freedman’s argument is more convincing due to the use of testimonials and quotations within the two arguments. As such, the quotations, testimonials and other factors such as examples provide a clearer outlook of the article and enhance its credibility.


The overall argument within the article is consistent since it focuses on the development of personality among all individuals. Indeed, by presenting such a general and consistent argument, Freedman anticipates counter arguments by providing both sides within the argument. Additionally, apart from the credible examples and quotations the author uses as evidence, Freedman also provides expert opinions and narrative research with respect to both Freud’s and Maslow’s research and contrasting views. However, the author does not source other articles even though his evidence is reliable and valid due to the use of expert opinions and narrative research. Furthermore, the article lacks a reference to any authority. Nevertheless, the article concludes that it is vital to permit the inner nature within every person to self-express. The justification for this conclusion bases on the fact that failure to initiate self-expression leads to a deterioration of the potential within every human (Lass, 2006). Interestingly, Freedman does not offer solutions since he focuses on the same methodology. The form of the article complements the content due to the author’s use of good transitions and organization. As such, the article ceases to be off-topic since it does not include any irrelevant material as well.

Virtues and Limitations

The knowledge of the text is indeed limited due to the insufficient provision of information and examples needed for credibility. The audience also imposes further limitations especially in knowledge and intellectuality since they do not fathom Freedman’s terminology. In addition, Freedman does not provide enough illustrations and quotations as well as other psychologists thereby limiting his work’s credibility. Nonetheless, the author’s background provides him with the ability to provide examples and elucidate his chief ideas in order to support his contention. However, the larger milieu also limits the author based on the persons interested in their self-development. In addition, even though Freedman was aware of such limitations, he proceeded on by providing illustrations for explaining his thoughts. However, Freedman’s conclusion was open and further depicted his failure in depicting the arguments or the different social values that different societies occupy and emulate. On a positive note, Freedman presents his arguments in an objective manner by averting personal pronouns. The author also attempts to depict current incidents by discussing regarding such phenomena within the world. As such, Freedman’s claims are credible based on his objectivity towards the presentation of both personal arguments and counter arguments, which allow him to justify his conclusion in a thought-provoking manner.


In the expression of his arguments regarding the role of humanism in personality development and self-actualization, Freedman utilizes effectual techniques that allow the audience to focus on the notion of self-actualization. As such, by presenting such a view, Freedman initiates a connection with the audience by focusing on an issue that underlines the effect of social values and a restrictive environment in the delineation and denunciation of self-actualization, which is a factor that is necessary for the development of personality.


DeCarvalho, R. J. (2000, January 01). The Growth Hypothesis and Self-Actualization: An Existential Alternative. The Humanistic Psychologist: Bulletin of the Division of Humanistic Psychology, Division 32 of the American Psychological Association, 28, 59-66.

Freedman, J. (n.d). Humanistic Psychology and Self-Actualization. Reading by All Means, 14, 291-298.

Hanley, S. J., & Abell, S. C. (2002, October 01). Maslow and Relatedness: Creating an Interpersonal Model of Self-Actualization. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 42(4), 37-57.

Laas, I. (2006, January 01). Self-Actualization and Society: A New Application for an Old Theory. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 46(1), 77-91.

Schneider, K. J. (2001). The handbook of humanistic psychology: Leading edges in theory, research, and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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