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All experience, all behavior, all individuals can be reacted to by the psychologist in either of two ways: He may study an experience or a behavior in its own right, as unique and idiosyncratic, i.e., as different from any other experience or person or behavior in the whole world. Or he may respond to the experience not as unique, but as typical, i.e., as an example or representative of one or another class, category, or rubric of experience. This is to say that he does not in the strictest sense examine, attend to, perceive, or even experience the event; his reaction is rather like that of the file clerk who perceives only enough of the page to be able to file it under A or B, etc. For this activity the name “rubricizing” might be suggested. For those who dislike neologisms the term “abstracting ~w might be preferable. The subscript letters B and W stand for Bergson (461)’ and Whitehead (475), the two thinkers who

1 ‘Even where it (reason) confesses that it does not know the object presented to it, it believes that its ignorance consists only in not knowing which one of its time-honored categories suits the new object. In what drawer, ready to open, shall we put it? In what garment, already cut out, shall we clothe it? Is it this, or that, or the other thing? And ‘this,’ and ‘that,’ and the other thing’ are always something already conceived, already known. The idea that for a new object we might have to create a new concept, perhaps a new method ot thinking, is deeply repugnant to us. The history of philosophy is there, however, and shows us the eternal conflict of systems, the impossi

have contributed most to our understanding of dangerous abstracting.2 Such a distinction is a natural by-product of any serious concern with the basic theories that underlie psychology. In general, most American psychological activity proceeds as if reality were fixed and stable rather than changing and developing (a state rather than a process), and as if it were discrete and additive rather than interconnected and patterned. This blindness to the dynamic and holistic aspects of reality is responsible for many of the weaknesses and failures of academic psychology. Even so, it is not necessary to create a dichotomy of opposition, or to choose up sides to do battle. There are stability as well as change, similarities as well as differences, and holism-dynamicism can be as one-sided and doctrinaire as atomism-staticism. If we emphasize the one at the expense of the other in this chapter, it is because this is necessary to round out the picture and restore balance.

In this chapter we shall discuss some of the problems of cognition in the light of these theoretical considerations. The writer especially hopes to communicate some of his conviction that much of what passes for cognition is actually a substitute for it, a second-hand trick made necessary by the exigencies of living in a flux-and-process reality without being willing to acknowledge this fact. Because reality is dynamic, and because the average Western mind can cognize well only what is static,

bility of satisfactorily getting the real into the readymade garments of our ready-made concepts, the necessity of making to measure. But, rather than go to this extremity, our reason prefers to announce once for all, with a proud modesty, that it has to do only with the Telative, and that the absolute is not in its province. This preliminary declaration enables it to apply its habitual method of thought without any scruple, and thus, under pretense that it does not touch the absolute, to make absolute judgments upon everything. Plato was the first to set up the theory that to know the Teal consists in finding its Idea, that is to say, in forcing it into a pro-existing frame already at our disposal—as if we implicitly possessed universal knowledge. But this belief is natural to the human intellect, always engaged as it is in determining under what former heading it shall catalogue any new object; and it may be said that, in a certain sense, we are all born Platonists.” (46, pp. 55—56).

2 The interested reader may be referred here to the psychological writers who have made differentiations more or less similar to the one presented in this chapter. Kurt Lewin’s (274) contrast between the Aristotelian and Galilean approaches to science, Gordon Allport’s (6) plea for an ‘idiographic” as well as a “nomothetic” approach to the science of personality, and most recently, the general semanticists’ stress on the differences rather than the likenesses between experiences (215). all overlap the thesis of this chapter and have been used freely in its preparation. We shall also mention below several of the interesting questions raised by Kurt Goldstein’s abstract-concrete dichotomy (160). Also relevant is Itards Wild Boy of .Aveyron.

much of our attending, perceiving, learning, remembering, and thinking actually deals with staticized abstractions from reality or with theoretical constructions rather than with reality itself.

Lest this chapter be taken as a polemic against abstractions and concepts, let me make it clear that we cannot possibly live without concepts, generalizations, and abstractions. The point is that they must be experientially based rather than empty or helium-filled. They must be rooted in concrete reality and tied to it. They must have meaningful content rather than being mere words, mere labels, mere abstractions. This chapter deals with pathological abstracting, “reduction to the abstract,” and with the dangers of abstracting.


In so far as the concept of attending differs at all from the concept of perceiving, it is in a relatively greater stress on selective, preparatory, organizing, and mobilizing actions. These need not be pure and fresh responses that are determined entirely by the nature of the reality attended to. It is a commonplace that attending is determined as well by the nature of the individual organism, by the person’s interests, motives, prejudices, past experiences, etc.

What is more to our point, however, is the fact that it is possible to discern in the attending responses the difference between fresh, idiosyncratic attending to the unique event, and stereotyped, rubricized recognition in the outside world of a set of categories that already exist in the mind of the attending person. That is, attending may be no more than a recognition or discovery in the world of what we ourselves have already put there—a sort of prejudging of experience before it happens. It may be, so to speak, a rationalization for the past, or an attempt to maintain the status quo, rather than a true recognition of change, novelty, and flux. This can be achieved by attending only to that which is already known, or by forcing the new into the shape of the familiar.

The advantages and disadvantages for the organism of this stereotyping of attention are equally obvious. It is evident that full attention is not needed for mere rubricizing or class placing of an experience, which in turn means saving of energy and effort. Rubricizing is definitely less fatiguing than whole-hearted attending. Furthermore, rubricizing does not call for concentration, it does not demand all the resources of the organism. Concentrated attention, which is necessary for the perceiving and understanding of an important or novel problem is, as we all know, extremely wearing, and is therefore relatively rare. Testimony for this conclusion is found in the common preference for streamlined reading, condensed novels, digest magazines, stereotyped movies, cliché-laden conversation, and in general, avoidance of real problems, or at least a strong preference for stereotyped pseudosolutions.

Rubricizing is a partial, token, or nominal response rather than a total one. This makes possible automaticity of behavior, i.e., doing several things at the same time, which in turn means making possible higher activities by permitting lower activities to be carried on in a reflexlike fashion. In a word, we do not have to notice or pay attention to the familiar elements of experience. Thus we need not perceive as individuals, waiters, doormen, elevator operators, street cleaners, men in any sort of uniform, etc.8

There is a paradox involved here, for it is simultaneously true that we tend (1) not to notice that which does not fit into the already constructed set of rubrics, i.e., the strange, and (2) it is the unusual, the unfamiliar, the dangerous, or threatening that are most attention compelling. An unfamiliar stimulus may be either dangerous (a noise in the dark) or not (new curtains on the windows). Fullest attention is given to the unfamiliar-dangerous; least attention is given to the familiar-safe; an intermediate amount is given to the unfamiliar-safe or else it is transformed into the familiar-safe, i.e., rubricized.4

There is an interesting speculation that proceeds from the curious tendency that the novel and strange either attract no attention at all or attract it overwhelmingly. It would seem that a large proportion of our (less healthy) population responds with attention only to threatening experiences. It is as if attention were to be regarded only as a response to danger and as a warning of the necessity for an emergency response. These people brush aside experiences that are nonthreatening and not dangerous, as therefore not being worthy of attention or any other response, cognitive or emotional. For them, life is either a meeting of dangers or relaxation between dangers.

But there are some people for whom this is not so. These are the people who will respond not only to dangerous situations. Probably feel

3 For more experimental examples, see Bartlett’s excellent study (33).

“Nothing is more congenial from babyhood to the end of life than to be able to assimilate the new to the old, to meet each threatening violator or burster of our well known series of concepts, as it comes in, see through its unwontedness and ticket it off as an old friend in disguise. . . . We feel neither curiosity nor wonder concerning things so far beyond us that we have no concepts to refer them to or standards by which to measure them.” (211, Vol. II, p. 110.)

ing more secure and self-confident, they can afford the luxury of responding to, noticing, and even thrilling with experiences that are not dangerous but pleasantly exciting, etc. It has been pointed out that this positive response, whether mild or strong, whether a slight titillation or an overwhelming ecstasy, is, like the emergency response, a mobilization by the autonomic nervous system, involving the viscera and the rest of the organism. The main difference between these experiences is that one seems to be felt introspectively as pleasant, the other as unpleasant. With this observation, we see that the human being not only adapts to the world in a passive way but also enjoys it and even imposes himself upon it actively. The factor whose variation seems to account for most of these differences is what may loosely be called mental health. For relatively anxious people, attending is more exclusively an emergency mechanism, and the world tends somewhat to be divided simply into the dangerous and the safe.

The truest contrast with rubricizing attention is probably furnished by Freud’s concept of “free floating attention.”5 Observe that Freud recommends passive rather than active attending on the grounds that active attention tends to be an imposition of a set of expectations upon the real world. Such expectations can drown out the voice of reality, if it be weak enough. Freud recommends that we be yielding, humble, passive, interested only in finding out what reality has to say to us, concerned only to allow the intrinsic structure of the material to determine that which we perceive. This all amounts to saying that we must treat

“For as soon as attention is deliberately concentrated in a certain degree, one begins to select from the material before one; one point will be fixed in the mind with particular clearness and some other consequently disregarded, and in this selection one’s expectations of one’s inclinations will be followed. This is just what must not be done, however; if one’s expectations are followed in this selection there is the danger of never finding anything but what is already known, and if one follows one’s inclinations anything which is to be perceived will most certainly be falsified. It must not be forgotten that the meaning of the thing one hears is, at all events, for the most part, only recognizable later on.

“It will be seen, therefore, that the principle of evenly-distributed attention is the necessary corollary to the demand on the patient to communicate everything that occurs to him without criticism or selection. If the physician behaves otherwise he is throwing aside most of the advantage to be gained by the patients’ obedience to the ‘fundamental rule of psycho-analysis.’ For the physicians the rule may be expressed thus: All conscious exertion is to be withheld from the capacity for attention, and one’s unconscious memory’ is to be given full play; or to express it in terms of technique, pure and simple: One has simply to listen and not to trouble to keep in mind anything in particular.” (139, pp. 324—325.)

the experience as if it were unique and unlike anything else in the world and that our only effort must be to apprehend it in its own nature, rather than to try to see how it fits into our theories, our schemes, and our concepts. This is in the most complete sense a recommendation to problem centering and against ego centering. To the fullest extent possible the ego, its experiences, and its preconceptions, its hopes, and its fears are to be put aside if we are to apprehend the per se intrinsic nature of the experience before us.

It may be helpful to make the familiar (even stereotyped) contrast between the approach to an experience by the scientist and by the artist. If we may allow ourselves to think of such abstractions as the true scientist and the true artist, it is probably accurate to contrast their approach to any experience by saying that the scientist fundamentally seeks to classify the experience, to relate it to all other experiences, to put it into its place in a unitary philosophy of the world, to look for the respects in which this experience is similar to and different from all other experiences. The scientist tends to put a name or a label upon the experience, he tends to put it into its place, in a word, to classify it. The artist, that is, if he is what an artist should be, according to Bergson, Croce, et al., is most interested in the unique and idiosyncratic character of his experience. He must treat the experience as an individual. Each apple is unique, different, and so also each model, each tree, each head—no one is quite like any other. As a critic said of a certain artist, “He sees what others only look at.” He is in no way interested in classifying the experience or placing it in any mental card catalog that he may have. It is his task to see the experience fresh, and then if he has the talent, to freeze the experience in some way so that perhaps less perceptive people may also see it fresh. Simmel said it nicely, “The scientist sees something because he knows something—the artist, however, knows something because he sees

Perhaps another parallel may help to drive the difference home. These same people whom I have called true artists are different from ordinary people in at least one other characteristic. To put it as briefly as I can, they seem to be able to see each sunset, each flower, or each tree with the same delight and awe and full attention and strong emotional reaction as if this were the first sunset or flower or tree they had ever

6 Like all stereotypes, these are dangerous. It is an implied point of this chapter that scientists would do well to become more intuitive, more artistic, and more appreciative and respectful of raw, direct experience. Likewise, the study and understanding of reality as seen by science should deepen the artist’s reactions to the world, in addition to making them more valid and adult. The injunction to both artist and scientist is actually the same: “See reality whole.”

seen. The average person will respond in a commonplace fashion to any miracle, however wonderful, if only he has seen the miracle happen five times before. An honest artist can retain the sense of the miraculous even after these thousand experiences. “He sees the world with the greater clarity of those for whom it is continuously new.”


Stereotyping is a concept that can apply not only to the social psychology of prejudice, but also to the basic process of perceiving. Perceiving may be something other than the absorption or registration of the intrinsic nature of the real event. It is more often a classifying, ticketing, or labeling of the experience rather than an examination of it, and ought therefore to be called by a name other than true perceiving. What we do in stereotyped or rubricized perceiving is parallel to the use of clichés and hackneyed phrases in speaking.

For instance, it is possible in being introduced to another human being to react to him freshly, to try to understand or to perceive this individual as a unique individual, not quite like anybody else living. More often what we do, however, is to ticket or label or place the man. We place him in a category or a rubric, regard him not as a unique individual, but as an example of some concept or as a representation of a category. For instance, he is a Chinaman, rather than Lum Wang who has dreams and ambitions and fears that are quite different from those of his brother. Or he is labeled as a millionaire or a member of society or a dame or a child or a Jew or a something.7 In other words, the person engaged in stereotyped perceiving ought to be compared, if we wish to be honest, to a file clerk rather than a camera. The file clerk has a drawer full of folders, and her task is to put every letter on the desk into its appropriate folder under the A’s or B’s or whatever.

Among the many examples of rubricizing in perceiving, we may cite the tendency to perceive:

1. The familiar and hackneyed rather than the unfamiliar and fresh

The schematized and abstract rather than the actual

7 “Such (cheap) fiction represents verbal rigidity in all its forms: content, formal, and evaluational. The plots, characters, action, situations, and ‘morals’ are relatively standardized. In large measure too, the stories involve standardized words and phrases; it is on this basis, to a considerable extent, that the characters, who are not individuals but types, are recognizable as the gun moll, the detective, the poor working girl, the boss’s son, etc.” (215, p. 259).

The general semanticist would also point out that once an individual has been placed in a category, others tend to react to the category rather than to the individual.

The organized, structured, the univalent rather than the chaotic, unorganized, and ambiguous

The named or namable rather than the unnamed and unnamable

The meaningful rather than the meaningless

The conventional rather than the unconventional

The expected rather than the unexpected

Furthermore, where the event is unfamiliar, concrete, ambiguous, unnamed, meaningless, unconventional, or unexpected, we show a strong tendency to twist or force or shape the event into a form that is more familiar, more abstract, more organized, etc. We tend to perceive events more easily as representatives of categories than in their own right, as unique and idiosyncratic.

Numerous illustrations of each of these tendencies can be found in the Rorschach test, the literatures of Gestalt psychology, of projective testing, and of the theory of art. Hayakawa (99, p. 103), in this last area, cites the example of an art teacher who “is in the habit of telling his pupils that they are unable to draw any individual arm because they think of it as an arm; and because they think of it as an arm they think they know what it ought to be.” Schachtel’s book is full of fascinating examples (410).

It is obvious that one needs to know less about a stimulus object for the purpose of filing it in an already constructed system of categories than for the purpose of understanding and appreciating it. True perception, which would encompass the object as unique, play over all of it, soak it in, and understand it, would obviously take infinitely more time than the fraction of a second that is all that is necessary for labeling and cataloging.

It is also probable that rubricizing is far less efficient than the fresh perception, mostly because of this already mentioned characteristic of being possible in a fraction of a second. Only the most outstanding characteristics can then be used to determine the reaction, and these can very easily give a false lead. Rubricizing perception then is an invitation to mistakes.

These mistakes become doubly important because rubricizing perception also makes it less probable that any original mistake will be corrected. One who has already been put into a rubric tends very strongly to be kept there, because any behavior that contradicts the stereotype of the rubric can be regarded simply as an exception that need not be taken seriously. For instance, if we have become convinced for some reason that a person is dishonest, and if then, in one particular card game, we try to catch him, only to fail, we ordinarily continue to call him a thief, assuming that he was honest for ad hoc reasons, perhaps out of fear of detection or out of laziness or the like. If we are profoundly enough convinced of his dishonesty, it may make no difference if we never catch him in a dishonest act. He might then be regarded simply as a thief who happens to be afraid to be dishonest with us. Or contradictory behavior may be regarded as interesting, in the sense of being not characteristic of the essence of the person but rather only superficially put on. If we are perfectly convinced that Chinese are inscrutable, then to find one who laughs does not change our stereotype of the Chinese, but we are rather apt to regard him simply as a queer or exceptional or peculiar Chinese. Indeed it may be that the concept of stereotyping or rubricizing may furnish us with a good part of the answer to the age-old problem of how people can continually believe in falsehood even when truth stares them in the face year after year. I know it is customary to consider this imperviousness to evidence as entirely explained by repression, or in general, motivational forces. There is no doubt that this statement is also true. The question is whether it is the whole truth, and in and of itself, a sufficient explanation. Our discussion indicates that there are also other reasons for being blind to evidence.

We can get some inkling of the violence that can be done to an object if we ourselves are on the receiving end of a stereotyping attitude. Of course, any Negro or any Jew could attest to this but it is also true at times of everyone else. See, for instance, such expressions as “Oh, it’s just the waiter,” or “It is another of those Joneses,” etc. We ordinarily feel insulted and unappreciated if we are thus casually put into a parcel with a lot of other people from whom we feel different in many ways. But it is impossible to improve on William James’s statement on the subject:

“The first thing the intellect does with an object is to class it along with something else. But any object that is infinitely important to us and awakens our devotion feels to us also as if it must be sui generis and unique. Probably a crab would be filled with a sense of personal outrage if it could hear us class it without ado or apology as a crustacean, and thus dispose of it. ‘I am no such thing,’ it would say; ‘I am myself, myself alone’” (212, p. 10).


A habit is an attempt to solve a present problem by using a previously successful solution. This implies that there must be (1) a placing of the present problem in a certain category of problems, and (2) a selection of the most efficient problem solution for this particular category of problems. Classification, i.e., rubricization, is therefore inevitably involved.

The phenomenon of habit illustrates best a point that is also true of rubricized attention, perceiving, thinking, expression, etc., namely that all rubricizing is, in effect, an attempt to “freeze the world.”8 In actuality, the world is a perpetual flux and all things are in process. In theory, nothing in the world is static (even though for practical purposes, many things are). If we are to take theory quite seriously, then each experience, each event, each behavior is in some way or other (whether important or unimportant) different from every other experience, behavior, etc. that has occurred in the world before or will ever occur again.9

It would seem reasonable then, as Whitehead has repeatedly pointed out, to base our theories and philosophies of science and common sense squarely on this basic and unavoidable fact. The truth is that most of us do not do this. Even though our most sophisticated scientists and philosophers have long ago discarded the old concepts of empty space and enduring things pushed around aimlessly in it, these verbally discarded concepts still live on as a basis for all our less intellectual reactions. Though

8 ‘Intellect therefore instinctively selects in a given situation whatever is like something already known; it seeks this out, in order that it may apply its principle that ‘like produces like.’ In just this does the prevision of the future by common sense consist. Science carries this faculty to the highest possible degree of exactitude and precision. but does not alter its essential character. Like ordinary knowledge, science is concerned only with the aspect of repetition. Though the whole be original, science will always manage to analyze it into elements or aspects that are approximately a reproduction of the past. Science can work only on what is supposed to repeat itself…”(46, pp. 34—S5.) It should be mentioned again (see Chapters 1 and 2 above and also Appendix B) that there is now available the beginnings of another philosophy of science, another conception of knowledge and of cognizing, which includes the holistic (as well as the atomistic), the unique (as well as the repetitive), the human and personal (as well as the mechanical); the changing (as well as the stable), the transcendent (as well as the positivistic). See (292, 376) and the bibliographical references therein.

9 No two things are alike, and no one thing stays the same. If you are clearly aware of this, it is quite all right to act as though some things were alike, and to act as though some things stayed the same—to act according to habit. It is alt right, because a difference to be a difference, must make a difference, and some differences don’t, sometimes. So long as you realize that there always are differences nonetheless, and that you have to judge whether they do make any difference, you can be trusted with a habit, because you will know when to set it aside. No habit is foolproof. Habits are useful to people who do not depend on them or insist on following them, regardless of circumstances: for less judicious individuals, habits tend to make for inefficiency, stupidity, and danger.” (215. p. 199.)

the world of change and growth is and must be accepted, this is rarely done emotionally and with enthusiasm. We are still deeply Newtonian (287).

All reactions that may be labeled rubricized may then be redefined as “efforts to freeze or staticize or stop the motion of a moving, changing process world in order to be able to handle it,” for it is as if we could handle this world only when it is not in motion. An example of this tendency is the ingenious trick that static-atomistic mathematicians have invented in order to treat motion and change in a motionless way, i.e., the calculus. For the purposes of this chapter, psychological examples are more pertinent, however, and it is necessary to pound home the thesis that habits, and indeed all reproductive learning, are examples of this tendency by statically minded people to freeze a process world into temporary immobility, since they cannot manage or cope with a world in a flux.

Habits are then conservative mechanisms, as James long ago pointed out (211). Why is this so? For one thing, because any learned reaction, merely by existing, blocks the formation of other Learned reactions to the same problem. But there is another reason, just as important, but ordinarily neglected by the learning theorists, namely, that learning is not only of muscular responses but of affective preferences as well. Not only do we learn to speak English but we learn to like and prefer it (309).10 Learning is not then a completely neutral process. We cannot say, “If this reaction is a mistake, it is easy enough to unlearn it or replace it with the right reaction,” for by learning, we have, to some degree, committed ourselves and our loyalties. Thus if it is our desire to learn to speak French well, it may be better not to learn it at all if the only available teacher has a bad accent; it could be more efficient to wait until a

10 Anthologistics

“Since one anthologist put in his book

Sweet things by Morse, Bone, Potter, Bliss and Brook,

All subsequent anthologists, of course,

Have quoted Bliss, Brook, Potter, Bone and Morse.

For, should some rash anthologist make free

To print selections, say, from you and me,

Omitting with a judgment all his own

The classic Brook, Morse, Potter, Bliss and Bone,

Contemptuous reviewers, passing by

Our verses, would unanimously cry,

‘What manner of anthology is this

That leaves out Bone, Brook, Potter, Morse and Bliss!’” Arthur Guiterman (167)

good teacher is available. For this same reason we must disagree with those in science who are very airy in their attitude toward hypotheses and theories. “Even a false theory is better than none,” they say. The true situation is not as simple as this, if the foregoing considerations have any validity. As a Spanish proverb says, “Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.”

These criticisms by no means apply to all learning; they apply only to atomistic and reproductive learning, i.e., recognition and recall of isolated ad hoc reactions. Many psychologists write as if this were the only way in which the past could have an influence upon the present, or in which the lessons of past experience may profitably be used to solve present problems. This is a naive assumption, for much of what is actually learned in the world, i.e., the most important influences of the past, is neither atomistic nor reproductive. The most important influence of the past, the most influential type of learning, is what we may call character or intrinsic learning (3lla), i.e., all the effects on character of all our experiences. Thus, experiences are not acquired by the organism one by one like so many coins; if they have any deep effect at all, they change the whole person. Thus the influence of some tragic experience would be to change him from an immature person to a more mature adult, wiser, more tolerant, more humble, better able to solve any of the problems of adult life. The contrasting theory would be that he had changed in no way except by the ad hoc acquisition of a technique of managing or solving such and such a particular type of problem, e.g., the death of his mother. Such an example is far more important, far more useful, far more paradigmatic than the usual examples of blind association of one nonsense syllable with another, which experiments, in my opinion, have to do with nothing in the world except other nonsense syllables.11

If the world is in process, every moment is a new and unique one.

‘Memory, as we have tried to prove, is not a faculty of putting away recollections in a drawer, or of inscribing them in a register. There is no register, no drawer; there is not even, properly speaking, a faculty, for a faculty works intermittently, when it will or when it can, whilst the piling up of the past upon the past goes without relaxation.

“But, even though we may have no distinct idea of it, we feel vaguely that our past remains present to us. What are we, in fact, what is our character, if not the condensation of the history that we have lived from our birth—nay, even before our birth, since we bring with ns prenatal dispositions? Doubtless we think with only a small part of our past, hut it is with our entire past, including the original bent of our soul, that we desire, will and act. Our past, then, as a whole, is made manifest to us in its impulse; it is felt in the form of idea.” (46, pp. 7—8.)

Theoretically speaking, all problems must be novel. The typical problem, according to process theory, is the problem that has never been faced before and that is, in essential ways, unlike any other problem. That problem that very much resembles past problems is then, according to this theory, to be understood as a special case rather than a paradigmatic one. If this is so, recourse to the past for ad hoc solutions is as likely to be dangerous as helpful. My belief is that actual observation will show this to be practically as well as theoretically true. In any case, nobody, whatever his theoretical bias, will argue about the fact that at least some of the problems of life are novel and must therefore have novel solutions.12

From the biological point of view, habits play a double role in adaptation because they are simultaneously necessary and dangerous. They necessarily imply something which is not true, i.e., a constant, unchanging, static world, and yet are commonly regarded as one of the human being’s most efficient tools of adaptation, which certainly implies a changing, dynamic world. A habit is an already formed reaction to a situation or answer to a problem. Because it is already formed, it develops a certain inertia and resistance to change.13 But when situation changes, our reaction to it should also change or be ready to change quickly. Therefore, the presence of a habit may be worse than no reaction at all, since the habit guarantees resistance to and delay in building up the newly necessary reaction to the new situation. In a similar connection, Bartlett speaks of the “challenge of the external environment which partially changes and in part persists, so that it demands a variable adjustment yet never permits an entirely new start.” (83, p. 224).

It may help to make this clearer if we describe this paradox from another point of view. We may then say that habits are built up to save time, effort, and thought in dealing with recurrent situations. If a prob. lem comes up again and again in similar form, we certainly can save a

‘Precisely because it is always trying to reconstitute, and to reconstitute with what is given, the intellect lets what is new in each moment of a history escape. It does not admit the unforeseeable. It rejects all creation. That definite antecedents bring forth a definite consequent, calculable as a function of them, is what satisfies our intellect. That a definite end calls forth definite means to attain it, is what we also understand. In both cases we have to do with the known, which is combined with the known, in short, with the old which is repeated.” (46, p. 180.)

“The capacity to be influenced by past reactions, often—but very likely somewhat inaccurately—called ‘modification by experience,’ on the whole conflicts with the demand, issued by a diverse, and constantly changing environment, for adaptability, fluidity, and variety of response. Its general effect is twofold: to lead to stereotyped behavior and to produce relatively fixed serial reactions.” (33, p. 218)

good deal of thought by having available some habitual answer that can automatically be trotted out to deal with this recurrent problem whenever it arises. Thus a habit is a response to a repetitive, unchanging, familiar problem. This is why it is possible to say that a habit is an as-if reaction— ”as if the world were static, unchanging, and constant.” This interpretation is borne out, of course, by the uniform stress upon repetition by those psychologists who are impressed with the primary importance of habit as an adjustive mechanism.

A good deal of the time this is just as it should be, for there is no doubt that many of our problems are actually repetitive, familiar, and relatively unchanging. The man who is engaged in what are called the higher activities, thinking, inventing, creating, finds that these activities demand as a prerequisite, elaborate sets of innumerable habits that automatically solve the petty problems of everyday life, so that the creator is free to give his energy to the so-called higher problems. But a contradiction is involved—even a paradox. In actual fact, the world is not static, familiar, repetitive, and unchanging. Instead, it is constantly in flux, ever new, always developing into something else, shifting, and changing. We need not argue as to whether this is a fair characterization of every aspect of the world; we can avoid unnecessary metaphysical debate by assuming for the sake of argument that some aspects of the world are constant, while some are not. If this is granted, then it must also be granted that however useful habits may be for the constant aspects of the world, they are positively a hindrance and an impediment when the organism has to deal with the changing, fluctuating aspects of the world with problems which are unique, novel, never before met with.14

“The picture is one of human beings confronted by a world in which they can live and be masters only as they learn to match its infinite diversity by increasing delicacy of response, and as they discover ways to escape from the complete sway of immediate circumstances.’ (46, p. 301).

“Our freedom, in the very moments by which it is affirmed, creates the growing habits that will stifle it if it fails to renew itself by a constant effort: it is dogged by automatism. The most living thought becomes frigid in the formula that expresses it. The word turns against the idea. The letter kills the spirit.” (46, p. 141.)

“Habit can be an accessory to progress, but it is not the chief means to it. It should be regulated from that point of view, it is an accessory to progress insofar as it saves time and conserves energy—but there is no progress, even so, unless the time so saved and the energy so conserved are used in the intelligent modification of other behavior. The more habitual shaving becomes for you, for example, the more free you are, while shaving, to consider problems that are of some importance to you. There is much advantage in this—unless, in considering these problems, you always arrive at the same conclusions.” (215, p. 198.)

Here then we have the paradox. Habits are simultaneously necessary and dangerous, useful and harmful. They undoubtedly save us time, effort, and thought, but at a big expense. They are a prime weapon of adaptation and yet they hinder adaptation. They are problem solutions and yet in the long run they are the antonyms of fresh, unrubricized thinking, that is to say, of solutions to new problems. Though useful in adjusting ourselves to the world, they often hinder us in our inventiveness and creativeness, which is to say they tend to prevent our adjusting the world to ourselves. Finally, they tend to replace, in a lazy way, true and fresh attending, perceiving, learning, and thinking.’5

It might be added finally that reproductive memory is much more difficult unless a set of rubrics (frame of reference) is available. The interested reader is referred to Bartlett’s excellent book (33) for experimental support for this conclusion. Schachtel (410) is brilliant on the subject. We might add one other example here that fortunately can also be easily checked. The writer found during a summer’s field work with an Indian tribe that he could not remember the Indian songs that he liked very much, however often he tried. It was possible to sing the song along with the Indian singer perhaps a dozen times, and then only five minutes later not be able to repeat it alone. For any person with a good musical memory this can be a baffling experience, understandable only when it is realized that Indian music is so different in basic organization and quality that there is no frame of reference against which to remember it. A simpler example that everyone will have met with is the difference in difficulty for an English-speaking person in learning, let us say, Spanish on the one hand and, on the other hand, some Slavic language like Russian. Most words in Spanish or French or German have cognates that the English-speaking person can use as a frame of reference. But since these cognates are almost entirely missing in Russian, learning the language becomes extraordinarily difficult.

“Thus the four factors mentioned—natural laziness or simian reluctance, fondness of assimilating the new to the old, tradition and success—have contributed to keep our thought undeveloped. The periods of really intense intellectual ferment and tradition-shattering thinking have been extraordinarily few within the historical period. The thinking of Plato and Aristotle sufficed from Greek times to the Renaissance, and the thinking of Galileo and Descartes at the Renaissance has furnished natural science with a stock of fundamental notions that have needed little revision until recent times. Thus during most .of the intervening times thinking has chiefly been a process of working out….”


In this area rubricizing consists of: (1) having only stereotyped problems, or in failing to perceive new ones, or in reshaping them, in a Procrustean fashion, so that they may be classified as familiar rather than novel, and/or (2) using only stereotyped and rote habits and techniques for solving these problems, and/or (3) having, in advance of all life’s problems, sets of ready-made, cut and dried solutions and answers. These three tendencies add up to an almost complete guarantee against creativeness or inventiveness.16

But they impel us so strongly that so profound a psychologist as Bergson was impelled mistakenly to define intellect as though it could do nothing more than rubricize, e.g., “Intellect (is) the faculty of connecting the same with the same, of perceiving and also of producing repetition.” (46, p. 59). “Explaining it always consists in resolving it, it the unforeseeable and new, into elements of old or known, arranged in a different order. The intellect can no more admit complete novelty than real becoming; that is to say, here again it lets an essential aspect of life escape (46, p. 181).”… we treat the living like the lifeless and think all reality however fluid, under the form of the sharply defined solid. We are at ease only in the discontinuous, in the immobile, in the dead. The intellect is characterized by a natural inability to comprehend life” (46. p. 182). But Bergson’s own intellect refuted this over-generalization.


To start with, the first effort of that person who tends strongly to rubricize will ordinarily be to avoid or overlook problems of any kind, In most extreme form this is exemplified by those compulsive-obsessive patients who regulate and order every corner of their lives because they dare not face anything unexpected. Such people are severely threatened by any

. . clarity and orderliness enable the possessor to deal with foreseen situations. They are necessary foundations for the maintenance of existing social situations. And yet they are not enough. Transcendence of mere clarity and order is necessary for dealing with the unforeseen, for progress, for excitement. Life degenerates when enclosed within the shackles of mere conformation. A power of incorporating vague and disorderly elements of experience is essential for the advance into novelty.” (475, p. 108.)

“The essence of life is to be found in the frustrations of established order. The Universe refuses the deadening influence of complete conformity. And yet in its refusal, it passes toward novel order as a primary requisite for important experience. We have to explain the aim at forms of order, and the aim at novelty of order, and the measure of success, and the measure of failure.” (415, p. 119.)

problem that demands more than a ready-made answer, i.e., that demands self-confidence, courage, security.

If the problem must be perceived, the first effort is to place the problem and to see it as a representative of a familiar category (since the familiar does not produce anxiety). The attempt is to discover, “Into which class of previously experienced problems can this particular one be placed?” or “Into which category of problems does this fit—or can it be squeezed?” Such a placing reaction is possible, of course, only on the basis of perceived resemblances. I do not wish to go into the difficult problem of similarity; it is sufficient to point out that this perception of resemblances need not be a humble, passive registration of the intrinsic nature of the realities perceived. This is proved by the fact that various individuals, classifying in terms of idiosyncratic sets of rubrics, can nevertheless all be successful in rubricizing the experience. Such people do not like to be at a loss and will classify all experiences that cannot be overlooked, even if they find it necessary to cut, squeeze, or distort the experience.

One of the best pieces I know on this subject is that of Crookshank (97) on the problems involved in medical diagnosis. Psychologists will be more familiar with the strictly taxonomical attitude of many psychiatric toward their patients.


Generally, one of the main advantages of rubricizing is that along with successful placing of the problem goes an automatically available set of techniques for handling this problem. This is not the only reason for rubricizing. That the tendency to place a problem is very deeply motivated is seen, e.g., in the physician who feels more easy in the presence of a known, though incurable, disease than in the presence of a completely mysterious set of symptoms.

If one has handled this same problem many times before, the proper machinery will be well oiled and ready to use. Of course, this means a strong tendency to do things as they have been done before, and as we have seen, habitual solutions carry disadvantages as well as advantages. As advantages we may cite again ease of execution, energy saving, automaticity, affective preference, anxiety saving. etc. The main disadvantages are loss of flexibility, adaptability, and creative inventiveness, i.e., the usual consequences of assuming that this dynamic world can be treated as if it were static.

An excellent example of the effects of stereotyped thinking techniques is furnished by Luchins’ interesting experiments on Einstellung (279).


Probably the best-known example of this process is rationalization. This and similar processes may be defined for our purposes as having a ready-made idea or foregone conclusion and then devoting a good deal of intellectual activity to supporting this conclusion or finding evidence for it. (“I don’t like that fellow and I’m going to find a good reason why.”) This is the kind of activity that has only a thinking-like façade. It is not thinking in the best sense because it comes to its conclusions irrespective of the nature of the problem. The knitting of the brow, the heated discussions, the straining after evidence are all so many smoke screens; the conclusion was fated before the thinking ever began. Often enough even the façade is lacking; people may simply believe without even making the gesture of seeming to think. This takes even less effort than rationalizing.

Every psychologist knows that it is possible for a person to live by a set of ready-made ideas that were acquired complete and entire during the first decade of life and that have never and shall never be changed in the slightest degree. It is true that such a man may have a high IQ. He may therefore be able to spend a good deal of his time in intellectual activity, selecting out from the world whatever bits of evidence support his ready-made ideas. We cannot deny that this sort of activity may occasionally be of some use to the world, and yet it seems clearly desirable for the psychologist to make some sort of verbal differentiation between productive, creative thinking on the one hand and even the most skillful rationalizing on the other. The occasional advantages of rationalizing are a small matter when weighed against the more impressive phenomena of blindness to the real world, imperviousness to new evidence, distortion in perceiving and remembering, the loss of modifiability and adaptability to a changing world, and other indications that the mind has ceased to develop.

But rationalization need not be our only example. It is also rubricizing when the problem is used as a stimulus to associations from among which are chosen those which best fit the particular occasion.

It would seem that rubricized thinking has a special affinity for and relationship to reproductive learning. The three types of processes that we have listed could easily be dealt with as special forms of habit activity. There is clearly involved a special reference to the past. Problem solving becomes little more than a technique of classifying and solving any new problem in the light of past experience. Thinking of this type then often amounts to no more than a shuffling about and rearrangement of previously acquired habits and memories of the reproductive type.

The contrast with more holistic-dynamic thinking can be seen more clearly when we understand that this latter type of thinking is more clearly allied to the perceptual processes than to the memory processes (225, 465). The main effort in holistic thinking is perceiving as clearly as possible the intrinsic nature of the problem with which one is confronted, as Wertheimer stresses in his recent book (465) and which Katona (225) phrases as “the effort to perceive in a problem its solution.”17 It is examined carefully in its own right and in its own style almost as if no other such problem had been met before. The effort is to ferret out its own intrinsic, per se nature, whereas in associative thinking it is rather to see how this problem relates to or resembles other problems previously experienced.18

This is not to imply that past experience is not used in holistic thinking. Of course it is. The point is that it is used in a different way, as has been described in the discussion above of so-called intrinsic learning, or learning to become the Person you are potentially (31la).

That associative thinking occurs there is no doubt. The debate is rather over which kind of thinking shall be used as the centering point, as the paradigm, as the ideal model. The contention of the holistic-dynamic theorists is that thinking activity, if it carries any meaning at all,

17 It is interesting to observe that the thinking of the Gestalt psychologists parallels in this respect that of various modern philosophers who are often apt to think of a problem solution as identical or tautologous with the problem itself, e.g., “When there is a full understanding, any particular item belongs to what is already clear. Thus it is merely a repetition of the known. In that sense, there is tautology” (475, p. 71). I believe that the logical positivists also maintain such a position, or at least did.

18 In a practical sense, in terms of behavior, this principle can be reduced to a sort of motto: ‘I don’t know—let’s see.’ That is to say, whenever one is confronted by a new situation one does not unhesitatingly respond to it in some way definitely decided upon in advance. It is rather as though one were to say, ‘I don’t know—let’s see,’ with a sensitiveness to any respects in which this situation might be different from previous ones, and with a readiness to make appropriate reactions accordingly.

“It is to be clearly recognized that such an approach to new situations does not involve indecisiveness. It does not represent failure to ‘make up one’s mind.’ Rather it represents a method for making up one’s mind without going off half-cocked. It provides a measure of insurance against the blunders we make in judging people by first impressions, in applying to individual woman drivers our attitude toward the woman driver, in condemning a person—or in committing ourselves to his support— on the basis of hearsay or on the basis of very brief acquaintance. We make such blunders by reacting to the individual, different and variable, but as though he were merely a member of a type and the same as all other members of that type—and then we react inappropriately because we are so very sure of our opinion of the type.” (212. pp. 187—188.)

by definition has the meaning of creativeness, uniqueness, ingenuity, and inventiveness. Thinking is the technique whereby mankind creates something new, which in turn implies that thinking must be revolutionary in the sense of occasionally conflicting with what has already been concluded. If it conflicts with an intellectual status quo it is then the opposite of habit, or memory, or what we have already learned, for the simple reason that it must by definition contradict what we have already learned. If our past learning and our habits work well, we can respond automatically, habitually, and familiarly. That is to say, we do not have to think. From this point of view, thinking is seen as the opposite of learning, rather than as a type of learning. If we were permitted a slight exaggeration, thinking might almost be defined as the ability to break our habits and to disregard our past experiences.

Another dynamic aspect is involved in the kind of truly creative thinking exemplified by the great achievements of human history. This is its characteristic boldness, daring, and courage. If these words are not quite apropos in this connection, they come close enough, as we can see if we think of the contrast between a timid child and a brave child. The timid child must cling closer to his mother who represents safety, familiarity, and protection; the holder child is freer to venture forth and can go farther from home base. The thinking process that parallels the timid clinging to the mother is the equally timid clinging to habit. The bold thinker—which is almost a redundancy, like saying a thinking thinker— must be able to break the Einstellung, to be able to be free of the past, of habit, expectation, learning, custom, and convention, and to be free of anxiety whenever venturing out of the safe and familiar harbor.

Another type of stereotyped conclusion is furnished by those instances in which individuals’ opinions are formed by imitation and/or prestige suggestion. These are generally considered to be underlying and basic trends in healthy human nature. It would probably be more accurate to consider them examples of mild psychopathology, or at least something very close to it. When important enough problems are involved, they are primarily responses to an unstructured situation, which has no fixed frame of reference, by overanxious, overconventionalized, or overlazy people (people without an opinion of their own, people who do not know what their opinion is, people who mistrust their own opinions).19

It would seem that a fairly large proportion of the conclusions and

19 An excellent discussion of the dynamics of the situation is found in Fromm (145).This same theme is also discussed in novel form in The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand (388). In this connection, 1066 and All That (490) is both funny and instructive.

problem solutions that we come to in the most basic areas of life seem to be of this sort, in which, while we think, we look out of the corner of our eyes to see what conclusion the other people are coming to so that we can also come to it. Obviously such conclusions are not thoughts in the truest sense of the word, i.e., dictated by the nature of the problem, but rather stereotyped conclusions picked up whole from other people whom we trust more than ourselves.

As might be expected, such a position has certain implications for helping us to understand why conventional education in this country falls so far short of its goals. We shall stress only one point here, namely, that education makes little effort to teach the individual to examine reality directly and freshly. Rather it gives him a complete set of prefabricated spectacles with which to look at the world in every aspect, e.g., what to believe, what to like, what to approve of, what to feel guilty about. Rarely is each person’s individuality made much of, rarely is he encouraged to be bold enough to see reality in his own style, or to be iconoclastic or different. Proof for the contention of stereotyping in higher education can be obtained in practically any college catalog, in which all of shifting, ineffable, and mysterious reality is neatly divided into three credit slices which, by some miraculous coincidence, are exactly fifteen weeks long, and which fall apart neatly, as a tangerine does, into completely independent and mutually exclusive departments.20 If ever there was a perfect example of a set of rubrics imposed upon reality rather than by reality, this is it. (There is beginning to be available what might be called a “parallel educational establishment” or “humanistic education,” which attempts to remedy these defects of the conventional educational establishment. Names, addresses, etc., may be found in “The Eupsychian Network” in (295, pp. 287—240).

This is all obvious enough, but what is less obvious is what to do about it. One idea strongly suggested by an examination of rubricized thinking is a decreased absorption with rubrics and an increased concern with fresh experiences, with concrete and particular realities. On this point we cannot improve on Whitehead’s statements.

20 “Science is taught as something fixed and stable, not as a system of knowledge whose life and value depends on its mobility and readiness to revise at a moment’s notice its most cherished constructions when new facts or a new point of view suggests the possibility of alternative ones”.

“I am Master of this College;

And what I know not,

Is not knowledge.” (475, p. 59.)

My own criticism of our traditional educational methods is that they are far too much occupied with intellectual analysis, and with the acquirement of formularized information. What I mean is, that we neglect to strengthen habits of concrete appreciation of the individual facts in their full interplay of emergent values, and that we merely emphasize abstract formulations which ignore this aspect of the interplay of diverse values.

At present our education combines a thorough study of a few abstractions, with a slighter study of a large number of abstractions. We are too exclusively bookish in our scholastic routine. The general training should aim at eliciting our concrete apprehensions, and should satisfy the itch of youth to be doing something. There should be some analysis even here, but only just enough to illustrate the ways of thinking in diverse spheres. In the Garden of Eden, Adam saw the animals before he named them: in the traditional system, children named the animals before they saw them.

This professional training can only touch one side of education. Its centre of gravity lies in the intellect, and its chief tool is the printed book. The centre of gravity of the other side of training should lie in intuition without an analytical divorce from the total environment. Its object is immediate apprehension with the minimum of eviscerating analysis. The type of generality, which above all is wanted, is the appreciation of variety of value. (475, pp. 284—286.)



It is by now generally accepted that theory building customarily implies selection and rejection, which in turn means that a theory must be expected to make some aspects of the world more clear and other aspects less clear. One characteristic of most nonholistic theories is that they are sets of rubrics or classes. But no one has ever devised a set of rubrics into which all phenomena fit easily; there are always some left out, some that fall in between the rubrics, and some that seem to belong simultaneously in various rubrics.

Furthermore, this kind of theory is almost always abstractive, that is to say, it emphasizes certain qualities of phenomena as more important than others or at least more worthy of notice. Thus any such theory, or any other abstraction for that matter, is apt to derogate or neglect or over. look some of the qualities of phenomena, i.e., to omit part of the truth. Because of these principles of rejection and selection, any theory must be expected to give no more than a partial, pragmatically biased view of the world. It is probably true, also, that all theories combined never give a full view of phenomena and of the world. The full subjective richness of an experience seems to come more often to artistically and emotionally sensitive people than to theorizers and intellectuals. It may even be that the so-called mystic experience is the perfect and extreme expression of this sort of full appreciation of all the characteristics of the particular phenomenon.

These considerations should by contrast show up another characteristic of particularized, individual experience, namely, its nonabstractive character. This is not the same as saying it is concrete in Goldstein’s sense. The brain-injured patient, when he behaves concretely, is actually not seeing all the sensuous characteristics of an object or experience. He sees and is able to see only one such characteristic, that determined by the particular context, e.g., a bottle of wine is just that and nothing else, not for instance, a weapon, or a decoration, or a paperweight, or a fire extinguisher. If we define abstracting as selective attention, for any of various reasons, to some rather than others of the numberless characteristics of an event, Goldstein’s patients might actually be said to be abstracting.

There is then a certain contrast between classifying experiences and appreciating them, between using them and enjoying them, between cognizing them in one way and cognizing them in another way. All writers on the mystic and religious experiences have emphasized this as few technical psychologists have. For instance, Aldous Huxley says: “As the individual grows up, his knowledge becomes more conceptual and systematic in form, and its factual, utilitarian content is enormously increased. But these gains are offset by a certain deterioration in the quality of immediate apprehension, a blunting and a loss of intuitive power” (209, p. vii)21

However, since appreciation is certainly not our only relationship with nature, being in fact the least pressing biologically of all such relationships, we must not maneuver ourselves into the foolish position of stigmatizing theories and abstractions because of their dangers. Their advantages are great and obvious, especially from the point of view of communication and of practical manipulation of the world. If it were our function to make recommendations, we should probably phrase it in some such fashion as this: The ordinary cognitive processes of the working intellectual, the scientist, etc. can be made even more powerful than they are if it be remembered that these processes are not the only possible weapons in the armory of the researchers. There are others as well. If they have ordinarily been relegated to the poet and the artist this is because it was not understood that these neglected styles of cognition gave access

For references on mysticism, see Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy (209) and William James’s The Varieties of Religions Experience (212).

to that portion of the real world which is hidden from the exclusively abstracting intellectual.

Furthermore, as we shall see in Appendix B, holistic theorizing is also possible, in which things are not dissected and separated from each other, but are seen intact in their interrelations as facets of a whole, contained within it, seen as figure against ground, or at different levels of magnification.


Language is primarily an excellent means of experiencing and communicating nomothetic information, i.e., rubricizing. Of course, it attempts also to define and communicate the idiosyncratic or idiographic, but for ultimate theoretical purposes, it often fails.22 All it can do with the idiosyncratic is to give it a name, which after all does not describe it or communicate it, but only labels it. The only way to know the idiosyncratic fully is to experience it fully and to experience it oneself. Even naming the experience may screen it off from further appreciation, as one pro-

22 For instance, see the writing of James Joyce or various contemporary discussions of the theory of poetry. Poetry is an attempt to Communicate, or at least express, an idiosyncratic experience that most people “have no art to say.” It is a putting into words of emotional experiences that are in essence wordless. It is an attempt to describe a fresh and unique experience with schematizing labels that are themselves neither fresh nor unique. About all the poet can do in such a hopeless situation is to use these words to make parallels, figures of speech, new word patterns, etc., with which, though he cannot describe the experience itself, he hopes to touch off a similar experience in the reader. That he sometimes succeeds is simply a miracle. If he attempts to make the words themselves unique, then communication is impaired as in James Joyce and as in modern nonrepresentational art. An effective expression of these points is found in the following introduction to an unusual story by V. Lincoln in The New Yorker, Sept. 28, 1946.

“Why are we never prepared, why do all the books and all the wisdom of our friends avail us nothing in the final event? How many deathbed scenes we have read, how many stories of young love, of marital infidelity, of cherished ambition, fulfilled or defeated. There is nothing that can happen to us that has not happened again and again, that we have not read over a thousand times, closely, carefully, accurately recorded; before we are fully launched on life, the story of the human heart has been opened for us again and again with all the patience and skill of the human mind. But the event, when it comes, is never anything like the description; it is strange, infinitely strange and new, and we stand helpless before it and realize that the words of another convey nothing, nothing.

“And still we cannot believe that personal life is, in its essence, incommunicable. We, too, having lived the moment, are impelled to convey it, to speak the words so honest in intent, so false in the final effect.”

fessor discovered when walking down a country road with his artist wife. Upon seeing some lovely flower for the first time, he asked its name. He was thereupon scolded by his wife. “What good does the name do you? When you learn its name, you’re satisfied and don’t bother enjoying the flower any more.”23

To the extent that language forces experiences into rubrics, it is a screen between reality and the human being. In a word, we pay for its benefits. Therefore, while using language, as we must of necessity, we should be aware of its shortcomings and we should try to get around them.24

If all this is true for language at its theoretical best, the situation must he far worse when language gives up altogether the struggle to be idiosyncratic, and degenerates completely into the use of stereotypes, platitudes, mottoes, slogans, clichés, battle cries, and epithets. It is then very obviously and frankly a means for obviating thought, for dulling the perceptions, stunting mental growth, and stultifying the human being. Language then has in truth “the function of concealing thought rather than of communicating it.”

23 “This is to be seen with unusual clearness in what I have called evaluative labeling. This term is designed to emphasize our common tendency to evaluate individuals and situations according to the names we apply to them. After all, this is a way of saying that the way in which we classify something determines in large measure the way in which we react to it. We classify largely by naming. Having named something, we tend to evaluate it and so to react to it in terms of the name we have given it. We learn in our culture to evaluate names, or labels, or words, quite independently of the actualities to which they might be applied.” (215, p. 261.)

consider the differences in social status and self-esteem that exist between two sets of public servants who perform simliar menial tasks, ‘airline hostesses’ and ‘Pullman porters’” (187); see also Ref. 490.

24 One suggestion would be that the scientist learn to respect the poet, at least the great poet. The scientist usually thinks of his own language as being exact and of other languages as being inexact, but often the poet’s language is paradoxically, if not more exact, at any rate more true. Sometimes it is even more exact. For instance, it is possible to say, if one is talented enough, in a very condensed way what the intellectual professor needs ten pages to say. The following story, attributed to Lincoln Steffens (25, p. 222) illustrates this point:

‘Satan and I,’ said Steffens, ‘were walking down Fifth Avenue together when we saw a man stop suddenly and pick a piece of Truth out of the air—right out of the air—a piece of living Truth.’

“‘Did you see that?,’ I asked Satan.

“‘Doesn’t it worry you? Don’t you know that it is enough to destroy you?’

“‘Yes, but I am not worried. I’ll tell you why. It is a beautiful living thing now, but the man will first name it, then he will organize it, and by that time it will be dead. If he would let it live, and live it, it would destroy me. I’m not worried.’”

One other characteristic of language that helps to make trouble is that it is outside of space-time——or at least particular words may be. The word England over a period of 1000 years does not grow. age, develop, evolve, or change as the nation itself does. And yet such words as this are all we have to describe events in space-time. What does it mean to say, “There will always be an England”? As Johnson has it, “The moving finger of actuality writes faster than the tongue can herald. The structure of language is less fluid than the structure of reality. Just as the thunder we hear is no longer sounding, so the reality we speak about exists no more.” (215, p. 119.)




In this chapter we shall grope further toward a scientifically usable differentiation between striving (doing, coping, achieving, trying, purposiveness) and being-becoming (existing, expressing, growing, self-actualization). This distinction is, of course, a familiar one in Eastern cultures and religions, e.g., Taoism, and, in our culture, among some philosophers, theologians, aestheticians, students of mysticism, and increasingly among “humanistic psychologists,” existential psychologists, etc.

Western culture generally rests on the Judaic-Christian theology. The United States particularly is dominated by the Puritan and pragmatic spirit which stresses work, struggle and striving, soberness and earnestness, and above all, purposefulness.1 Like any other social institution, science

“…idle associations, superfluous images, involved dreams, random explorations, play a part in development that could never be justified, in origin, on any principle of economy or by any direct expectation of usefulness. In a mechanistic culture like our own, these important activities have been either undervalued or overlooked. -

‘Once we rid ourselves of the unconscious bias of mechanism, we must recognize that the ‘superfluous’ is just as essential to human development as the economic: that beauty, for example, has played as large a part in evolution as use and cannot be explained, as Darwin sought to, merely as a practical device for courtship or fertilization. In short, it is just as permissible to conceive nature, mythologically, as a poet, working- in metaphors and rhythms, as to think of nature as a cunning mechanic, trying to save material, make both ends meet, do the job efficiently and cheaply. The

in general and psychology in particular is not exempt from these cultural climate and atmosphere effects. American psychology, by participation, is overpragmatic. over-Puritan, and overpurposeful. This is evident not only in its effects and avowed purposes but also in its gaps, in what it neglects. No textbooks have chapters on fun and gaiety, on leisure and meditation, on loafing and puttering, on aimless, useless, and purposeless activity, on aesthetic creation or experience, or on unmotivated activity. That is to say, American psychology is busily occupying itself with only half of life to the neglect of the other—and perhaps more important—half!

From the point of view of values, this may be described as a preoccupation with means to the exclusion of concern with ends. This philosophy is implicit in practically all American psychology (including orthodox and revisionist psychoanalysis), which uniformly neglects per se activity and end experience (which gets nothing done) in favor of coping, changing, effective, purposeful activity that gets something useful done.2

mechanistic interpretation is quite as subjective as the poetic one; and up to a point each is useful.” (347, p. 35.)

Gordon Allport stresses strongly and correctly that ‘being” is as effortful and active as is striving. His suggestions would lead us to contrast striving-to-make-up-deficiencies with striving-to-self-actualize rather than striving with being. This correction also serves to remove the too easily acquired impression that “being,” unmotivated reactions and purposeless activity are easier, less energetic and less effortful than coping with external problems. That this dolce far niente interpretation of self-actualization is misleading is easily demonstrated by such examples of struggling self-development as Beethoven.

“Existence for each individual may be seen as a continual struggle to satisfy needs, relieve tensions, maintain equilibrium.” “In terms of our molar unit, then, the behavior of the individual is always concerned with needs and goals. If, in any given instance, this unit does not appear to be the most meaningful or useful, we must first reexamine the validity of our observations rather than the usefulness of this unit. Often a behavior may seem unmotivated because we have failed to identify concretely the need or goal involved, or because we have artificially abstracted a part of the individual’s behavior from its integrated context.” “At the present time, we recognize that every reaction of a living being must he purposive in the sense of being adapted to the preservation of the species if the latter is to survive in the struggle for existence.’’.., all action is motivated and expresses some purpose.” “Laziness, like all other human activities, serves a purpose.” “All behavior is evoked by the pressure of need—the kinds of needs which have already been mentioned. Behavior is the reaction of the organism in its efforts to effect a reduction of these needs through commerce with its environment. All conduct, therefore, is dictated by need-derived interest.” “All human behavior is directed toward the satisfaction of needs.” “All behavior is motivated and all learning involves reward,” “Needs are determined by the report of a person experiencing them, and, on the assumption that all behavior satisfies some conscious or unconscious needs, by inference from an individual’s behavior.” “All behavior is thus goal directed…” . .

The culmination of this philosophy may be found in a quite explicit form in John Dewey’s Theory of Valuation (108) in which the possibility of ends is in effect denied; they are themselves only means to other means, to other means , etc. (although in other of his writings, he does accept the existence of ends).

At a clinical level, we have already discussed various aspects of this differentiation in the following ways:

I. In Appendix B it may be noticed that a holistic emphasis is necessary to stress coexistence and mutual interdependence in addition to the successiveness of causality theory, especially of the atomistic variety. In chain causality, as in Dewey’s value theory, one thing leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another , etc. This is a natural acompaniment of the theory that nothing is important for its own sake. Causality theory is a quite suitable, even necessary tool for the life of achievement and technological accomplishment, but is completely useless for the life that stresses intensive perfection, aesthetic experience, contemplation of ultimate values, enjoyment, meditativeness, connoisseur-ship, and self-actualization.

2. In Chapter 3 it was recognized that motivated is not synonymous with determined. There are determinants other than motives as demonstrated by, e.g., constitutional changes like sunburn or glandular activity, maturational changes, situational and cultural determinants, as well as for psychological changes like retroactive and proactive inhibition or latent learning.

Although it was Freud (141) who originally confounded the two concepts, his mistake has been so widely followed by psychoanalysts that they now automatically look for motives only no matter what change occurs, e.g., eczema, gastric ulcer, slips of the pen, forgetting, etc.

3. In Chapter 5 many psychological phenomena were shown to be unmotivated, epiphenomenal consequences of need gratification rather than purposeful, motivated, learned changes as has usually been assumed.

cont. “…most, if not all, of the movements, or responses, which an individual makes have the immediate net effect of either rewarding or punishing him.” “Some behavior leads us at once to infer the operation of some drive or motive, while other behavior sequences are—relatively, at least—devoid of motivation. Probably no human action above the simplest reflexes is completely unmotivated.” “This principle hold that all behavior is fundamentally motivated by the physiologic requirements of the organism, whether the urges to activity arising from such needs be labeled instincts, drives or goal-directed strivings..” The fact that most of these writers are speaking of lower, more material needs alone makes it even worse.

That this is no small mistake is apparent at once from the list of phenomena that were claimed to be wholly or partially gratification effects, e.g., psychotherapy, attitudes, interests, tastes and values, happiness, good citizenship, attitudes toward the self, a host of character traits, and dozens of other psychological effects as well. Need gratification permits the emergence of relatively unmotivated behavior, e.g., “immediately after satiation, the organism allows itself to give up pressure, tension, urgency and necessity, to loaf, laze and relax, to putter, to be passive, to enjoy the sun, to ornament, to decorate and polish the pots and pans (rather than to use them), to play and have fun, to observe idly what is of no importance, to be casual and aimless.”

An experiment on the effects of familiarity in 1937 (309) demonstrated that simple, unrewarded, repetitive contact tended finally to produce preference for the familiar object, or word, or activity even when it was initially distasteful. Since this constitutes a pure case of learning by unrewarded contiguity, it must be considered unmotivated change by the reward, tension-reduction, and reinforcement theorists at least.

Chapter 13 demonstrates the important difference for various fields of psychology between stereotyped or rubricized cognition and fresh, humble, receptive, Taoistic cognition of the concrete, the idiosyncratic, the unique, innocent cognition without preconceptions and expectations, and without the intrusion of wishes, hopes, fears, or anxieties. Most acts of cognition, it would seem, are stale, careless recognitions and catalogings of stereotypes. Such a lazy classifying under preexisting rubrics is profoundly different from actual, concrete perceiving with full and undivided attention of the many-sidedness of the unique phenomenon. It is only from such cognition that full appreciation and savoring of any experience can come. To the extent that rubricizing is a premature freezing of conclusions, because the person is afraid of the unknown, it is motivated by the hope of anxiety reduction and avoidance. The person who has comfortable relations with the unknown, or what is almost the same thing, can tolerate ambiguity (135), is therefore less motivated in his perceptions. It was also suggested in this chapter that the close tie found by Murphy, Bruner, Ansbacher, Murray, Sanford, McClelland, Klein, and many others, between motivation and perception had best be regarded as a somewhat psychopathological phenomenon, rather than as healthy. Very bluntly put, this tie is symptomatic of a slightly sick organism. In self-actualizing people it is at a minimum; in neurotic and psychotic people it is at a maximum, as in delusions and hallucinations. One way of describing this difference is to say that cognition in the healthy is relatively unmotivated; in the sick it is relatively motivated. Latent learning in human beings is an instance of unmotivated cognition that could test this clinical finding.

Our study of self-actualizing people made clear the necessity for distinguishing somehow between their motivational life and that of more average people. They were clearly living a self-fulfilling, value-enjoying, elf-perfecting life, rather than seeking for the basic need gratification hat the average citizen lacks, i.e., growth motivation or metamotivation rather than deficiency motivation. Thus they were being themselves, developing, growing, and maturing, not going anywhere (in the sense, e.g., of social climbing), not striving in the ordinary sense of straining and trying for a state of affairs other than that in which they were. The distinction between deficiency motivation and growth motivation implies that self-actualizing itself is not a motivated change, unless motivation be understood in a wholly new sense. Self-actualization, the coming to full development and actuality of the potentialities of the organism, is more akin to growth and maturation than it is to habit formation or association via reward, that is, it is not acquired from without but is rather’ an unfolding from within of what is, in a subtle sense, already there. Spontaneity at the self-actualizing level—being healthy, natural—is unmotivated; indeed it is the contradiction of motivation.

Finally, in Chapter 10 the expressive determinant of behavior and of experience was discussed at some length, especially in its implications for theory of psychopathology and psychosomatics. It was strongly stressed that expression must be called relatively unmotivated, by contrast with coping, which is both motivated and purposive. The only alternative to this contrast is a complete semantic and conceptual revolution in the vocabulary of motivation.

In this chapter, depression, Goldsteinian catastrophic breakdown, Maier’s frustration-instigated behavior, and catharsis and release phenomena in general were also shown to be expressive, i.e., relatively unmotivated. So also were Freudian slips, tics, and free association seen to be expressive as well as motivated.

Behavior, with rare exceptions discussed below, is means rather than end, i.e., it gets things done in the world. It is a question whether the exclusion of subjective states as a legitimate object of psychological study does not, a priori, make difficult or even impossible the solution of the problem we are discussing. Ends as I see them are very frequently subjective experiences of satisfaction. Without reference to the fact that most instrumental behaviors have human worth only because they bring about these subjective end-experiences, the behavior itself often becomes scientifically senseless (492). Behaviorism itself may be understood better if it is seen as one cultural expression of the general Puritan striving and achieving point of view we have already mentioned. This implies that to its various other failings must now be added ethnocentrism.



So far then we have listed several broad categories of phenomena that must be considered to be more or less unmotivated, depending on the various definitions of the word that are possible. There are also many other such reactions, and these we shall now discuss briefly. It should be observed that they are all relatively neglected areas of psychology, an excellent illustration for the student of science of the way in which a limited outlook on life creates a limited world. For the carpenter who is only a carpenter, the world is made of wood.


The creation of art may be relatively motivated, i.e., when it seeks to communicate, to arouse emotion, to show, to do something to another person, or it may be relatively unmotivated, i.e., when it is expressive rather than communicative, intrapersonal rather than interpersonal. The fact that expression may have unforeseen interpersonal effects (secondary gain) is beside the point.

Very much to the point, however, is the question, “Is there a need for expression?” If there is, then artistic expression, as well as cathartic and release phenomena are as motivated as food seeking or love seeking. I have indicated at various points in earlier chapters that I think the evidence will soon force us to recognize such a need to express in action whatever impulses have been aroused in the organism. That this will make paradoxes is clear from the fact that any need or any capacity is an impulse and therefore seeks expression. Should it then be called a separate need or impulse or should it rather be considered to be a universal characteristic of any impulse?

At this point we need not opt for one or another of these alternatives, since our only purpose is to show that they are all neglected. Whichever one turns out to be most fruitful will force a recognition of (1) the category of unmotivation or (2) a tremendous reconstruction of all motivation theory.

Quite as important for the sophisticated person is the question of aesthetic experience. This is so rich and valuable an experience for so many people that they will simply scorn or sneer at any psychological

theory that denies or neglects it, no matter what scientific grounds there may be for such neglect. Science must account for all reality, not only the impoverished and bloodless portions of it. The fact that the aesthetic response is useless and purposeless, and that we know nothing about its motivations, if indeed, there are any in the ordinary sense, should indicate to us only the poverty of our official psychology.

Even the aesthetic perception, cognitively speaking, may be seen as relatively unmotivated by comparison with ordinary cognitions. We have seen in Chapter 13 that rubricizing perception was at best partial; not so much an examination of all the attributes of an object, as a classification of it on the basis of those few attributes that are useful to us, relevant to our concerns, or need gratifying or need threatening. Taoistic, disinterested perceiving of the many-sidedness of a phenomenon (with especial reference not to usefulness but to its efficacy in producing end experiences) is one characteristic of the aesthetic perception.3

I have found useful as a jumping-off point for thinking about just being, analysis of the concept of waiting. The cat in the sun does not wait any more than a tree waits. Waiting implies wasted, unappreciated time that is empty of significance for the organism, and is a by-product of a too exclusively means-oriented attitude toward life. It is most often a stupid, inefficient, and wasteful response, since (1) impatience usually does no good, even from the point of view of efficiency, and (2) even means experiences and means behaviors can be enjoyed, savored, and appreciated for their own sake at, so to speak, no extra charge. Travel is an excellent example of the way in which a piece of time can be either

‘The brain serves to bring about this choice: it actualizes the useful memories, it keeps in the lower strata of the consciousness those which are of no use. One could say as much for perception. The auxiliary of action, it isolates that part of reality as a whole that interests us; it shows us less the things themselves than the use we can make of them. It classifies, it labels them beforehand; we scarcely look at the object. it is enough for us to know to which category it belongs. But now and then, by a lucky accident, men arise whose senses or whose consciousness are less adherent to life. Nature has forgotten to attach their faculty of perceiving to their faculty of acting. When they look at a thing, they see it for itself, and not for themselves. They do not perceive simply with a view to action; they perceive in order to perceive—for nothing, for the pleasure of doing so. In regard to a certain aspect of their nature, whether it be their consciousness or one of their senses, they are born detached; and according to whether this detachment is that of a certain particular sense, or of consciousness, they are painters or sculptors, musicians or poets. It is therefore a much more direct vision of reality that we find in the different arts; and it is because the artist is less intent on utilizing his perception that he perceives a greater number of things.” (46, pp. 162— 163.)

enjoyed as end experience or completely wasted. Education is another instance. So also are interpersonal relations in general.

Involved here also is a certain inversion of the concept of wasted time. For the use-oriented, purposeful, need-reducing kind of person that time is wasted that achieves nothing and serves no purpose. While this is a perfectly legitimate usage, we may suggest that an equally legitimate usage might be to consider that time wasted that does not carry end experience with it, i.e., that is not ultimately enjoyed. “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” “Some things that are not necessary may yet be essential.”

An excellent illustration of the way in which our culture is unable to take its end experiences straight may be seen in strolling, canoeing, golfing, etc. Generally these activities are extolled because they get people into the open, close to nature, out into the sunshine, or into beautiful surroundings. In essence, these are ways in which what should be unmotivated end activities and end experiences are thrown into a purposeful, achieving, pragmatic framework in order to appease the Western conscience.


Not only the aesthetic experience but many others also are passively received and enjoyed by the organism. This enjoyment itself can hardly be said to be motivated; if anything it is the end or purpose of motivated activity, the epiphenomenon of need gratification.

The mystic experience, the experience of awe, of delight, of wonder, of mystery, and of admiration are all subjectively rich experiences of the same passive, aesthetic sort, experiences that beat their way in upon the organism, flooding it as music does. These too are end experiences, ultimate rather than instrumental, changing the outside world not at all. All this is true for leisure as well, if it is properly defined (375).

Perhaps it is appropriate to speak here of two such ultimate pleasures:

(1) K. B hler’s function pleasure, and (2) the pleasure of sheer living (biopleasure, zestful experiencing). Especially can we see these in the child who repeats and repeats his newly perfected skill out of sheer delight that comes with good and skillful functioning. Dancing may also be a good example. As for the basic life pleasure, any ailing or dyspeptic or nauseated person can testify to the reality of that most ultimate biological pleasure (zestful experiencing) that is an automatic, unsought-for, unmotivated by-product of being alive and healthy.


In Chapter 10, the style of behavior, as contrasted with its functions and purposes, was listed as an example of expression, following among others, Allport, (8), Werner (464), and Wertheimer (465, 467).

I wish to add here some data reported in 1939 (305) that should illustrate and support this thesis. In this research I attempted to discover the various ways in which high-dominance with high self-esteem, women (strong, self-confident, self-assertive characters) differed from low-dominance women (with low self-esteem, passive, shy, or retreating characters). So many differentiations were discovered that it finally became relatively easy to make diagnosis (and therefore validation) by simply watching them walk, talk, etc. Character structure showed itself in tastes, in clothes, party behavior, etc. as well as in overt functional, purposeful, motivated behavior. A few examples will suffice.

The stronger person shows this strength by choosing foods that are saltier, sourer, and more bitter, more sharp and of stronger taste, e.g., strong cheeses rather than milder ones; foods that taste good even though ugly and unattractive, e.g., shellfish; foods that are novel and unfamiliar, e.g., fried squirrel, snails. They are less finicky, less easily nauseated, less fussy about unattractive or sloppily prepared food. And yet they are more sensuous and hearty and lusty about good food than are the low-dominance women.

By a kind of physiognomical isomorphism (464) these same qualities show themselves in other areas, e.g., their language is tougher, stronger, harder; the men they choose are tougher, stronger, harder; their reactions to exploiters, leeches, and other people who try to take advantage of them is stronger, tougher, and harder.

Eisenberg’s studies (118) very strongly supported these conclusions in various other ways. For instance, the high scorers in my test of dominance-feeling or self-esteem (294), were more apt to come late to appointments with the experimenter, to be less respectful, more casual, more forward, more condescending, less tense, anxious, and worried, more apt to accept an offered cigarette, much more apt to make themselves comfortable without bidding or invitation.

In still another research (311), their sexual reactions were found to be even more sharply different. The stronger woman is much more apt to be pagan, permissive, and accepting in all sexual realms. She is less apt to be a virgin, more apt to have masturbated, more apt to have had sexual relations with more than one man, much more apt to have tried such experiments as homosexuality, cunnilingus, fellatio, and anal sexuality.

In other words here too she is apt to be more forward, less inhibited, tougher, harder, stronger. See also De Martino (107).

An unpublished experiment by Carpenter (79) on the different musical tastes of high- and low-scoring women comes to a foreseeable conclusion, namely, that high scorers (high self-esteem) are more open to strange, wild, unfamiliar music, to cacophony, and to lack of melody, to the powerful rather than the sweet.

Meadow (335) showed that low scorers (shy, timid, less confident) deteriorated intellectually more than did high scorers when put under stress, i.e., they were less strong. See (297a) for parallels with work of McClelland and his collaborators on the need for achievement.

The value of these examples for our thesis lies in the clearly observable fact that these are all unmotivated choices, all expressive of a type of character structure in the same way that all of Mozart’s music is Mozartian somehow, or that Renoir’s copy of a Delacroix painting looks more like Renoir than like Delacroix.

These are all expressive in the same way that the style of writing is, or that TAT stories or Rorschach protocols are, or that doll play is.


Play may be either coping or expressive or both (see page 70) as is now quite clear from the literature on play therapy and play diagnosis. It seems quite probable that this general conclusion will supplant the various functional, purposive, motivational theories of play put forward in the past. Since there• is nothing to prevent us from using the coping-expressive dichotomy with animals, we may also reasonably look forward to more useful and realistic interpretations of animal play as well. All we have to do to open up this new area for research is to admit the possibility that play may be useless and unmotivated, a phenomenon of being rather than of striving, end rather than means. The same may probably be affirmed of laughter, hilarity, gaiety, having fun, joy, ecstasy, euphoria, etc.


This is another area that has resisted the tools of official psychology. I think this is partly so because thinking in general has been automatically regarded since Darwin and Dewey as problem solving, Le, as functional and as motivated.

What little data we have to contradict this assumption come mostly from the analysis of the larger thought products—philosophical systems —whose correlations with individual character structure are easy enough to establish (192). That a pessimist like Schopenhauer should produce a pessimistic philosophy seems very understandable. To consider it purely rationalization or defense or security device is surely naive after all we have learned from TAT stories or the art products of children. In any case, to take a parallel expressive production, how could Bach’s music or Rubens’s painting be defensive or rationalization?

Remembering also may be relatively unmotivated, as is clearly seen in the phenomenon of latent learning, which is found in greater or lesser degree, in all human beings. The to-do among the researchers over this problem is really irrelevant since it is of no concern to us whether rats show latent learning or not. Human beings in their daily lives do beyond a doubt.

The finding of Ansbacher (13) that insecure people tend strongly to have insecure early memories, and my own finding that insecure people tend strongly to have manifestly insecure dreams are also instances in point. These seem to be obvious expressions of attitude toward the world. I cannot conceive how they could be, without straining, interpreted as solely need gratifying, rewarding, or reinforcing.

The truth or the correct answer is in any case often simply perceived without effort, rather than struggled for and sought. The fact that in most experiments motivation of some sort is necessary before problems can be solved may easily be a function of the triviality or arbitrariness of the problems rather than proof that all thinking must be motivated. In the good life lived by the healthy person, thinking, like perceiving, may be spontaneous and passive reception or production, an unmotivated, effortless, happy expression of the nature and existence of the organism, a letting things happen rather than making them happen, as much an example of being as the perfume of a flower or the apples on a tree.




The words normal and abnormal cover so many different meanings that they have become just about useless. The strong tendency today is for psychologists and psychiatrists to substitute for these very general words the more specific concepts that are included under these heads. This is what I mean to do in this chapter.

In general the attempts to define normality have been either statistical, or culturally relative, or biological-medical. However, these are the formal definitions only, - the “company” or Sunday definitions, not the everyday ones. The informal meaning carried by the word is just as definite as the professional ones. Most people have something else in mind when they ask, “What is normal?” For most people, even for the professionals in their informal moments, this is a value question, and in effect asks what we should value, what is good and bad for us, what we should worry about, and what we ought to feel guilty or virtuous about. I choose to interpret the title of this chapter in the lay sense as well as in the professional sense. It is my impression that most of the technicians in the field do the same thing although they do not admit it most of the time. There is a good deal of discussion about what normal ought to mean and rather little about what it does mean in context, in normal conversation. In my therapeutic work I have always interpreted the question about normality and abnormality in the speaker’s context rather than in the technical context. When a mother has asked me whether her child was normal, I understood her to be asking aught she worry about it or not, should she change her efforts to control her child’s behavior, or should she let it slide and not bother. When people after a lecture have asked about the normality and abnormality of sexual behavior, I have understood their question in the same way, and my answer very frequently implied, “Do worry about it,” or, “Do not worry about it.”

I think that the real reason for currently revived interest in this problem among psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, and psychologists is the feeling that this is the great value question. When, for instance, Erich Fromm talks about normality, he places it in the context of goodness, desirability, and value. So increasingly have most other writers in this area. This kind of work now and for some time past has been very frankly an effort to construct a psychology of values that might ultimately serve as a practical guide for ordinary people, as well as a theoretical frame of reference for professors of philosophy and other technicians.

I can go even further than this. For many of these psychologists this whole effort is more and more (for most) admitted to be an attempt to do what the formal religions have tried to do and failed to do, that is, to offer people an understanding of human nature in relationship to itself, to other people, to society in general, and to the world in general, a frame of reference in which they could understand when they ought to feel guilty and when they ought not to feel guilty. That is to say, we are working up what amounts to a scientific ethics. I am perfectly willing that my remarks in this chapter be understood as moving in this direction.


Now before we get to this important subject let us turn first to the various technical attempts to describe and define normality that have not worked well.

1. Statistical surveys of human behavior tell us simply what is the case and what actually exists, and are supposed to be completely devoid of evaluation. Fortunately, most people, even scientists, are simply not strong enough to resist the temptation to approve of the average, of what is most common and most frequent, especially in our culture, which is so strong for the common man. For instance, Kinsey’s excellent survey of sexual behavior is highly useful for the raw information that it gives. But Dr. Kinsey and others simply cannot avoid talking about what is normal (meaning desirable). It is average in our society to have a sick, pathological sexual life (from the psychiatric point of view). This does not make it desirable or healthy. We must learn to say average when we mean average.

Another example is the Gesell table of norms of baby development, which are certainly useful for scientists and physicians to have. But most mothers are apt to get worried if their baby is below the average in the development of walking or drinking out of a cup, as if this were bad or frightening. Apparently after we find out what is average, we must still ask, “Is the average desirable?”

The word normal often is used as an unconscious synonym for tradition or habitual or conventional, and is usually meant to cloak the tradition in approval. I remember the turmoil over women smoking when I went to college. It was not normal, our dean of women said, and forbade it. At that time it was also not normal for college women to wear slacks, or to hold hands in public. Of course what she meant was, “This is not traditional,” which was perfectly true, and this implied for her, “This is abnormal, sick, intrinsically pathological,” which was perfectly false. A few years later the traditions changed and she was fired, because by that time her ways were not ‘normal.”

A variant of this usage is to cloak tradition in theological approval. So-called sacred books are interpreted very frequently as setting norms for behavior, but the scientist pays as little attention to these traditions as to any other.

Finally, the culturally relative may also be considered to be obsolete as a source of definition of normal, desirable, good, or healthy. The anthropologists of course did us a great service at first in making us aware of our ethnocentrism. We had been as a culture trying to set up as absolute and specks-wide criteria all sorts of local cultural habits like wearing pants or eating cows rather than dogs. A wider ethnological sophistication has dispelled many of these notions, and it is generally recognized that ethnocentrism is a serious danger. Nobody can speak for the whole species now unless he knows something about cultural anthropology and something about a half a dozen or a dozen cultures at least, so that he is able to rise above his own culture or stand aside from it, and is thereby more able to judge the human species as a species and not as a neighborhood group.

The main variant of this mistake is found in the idea of the well-adjusted man. It may puzzle the lay reader to discover how hostile psychologists have become to this ~eeming1y sensible and olvious idea. After all everyone wants his children to be well adjusted and part of the group, popular, admired, and loved by the friends of their own age. Our big question is, “Adjusted to which group?” Nazis, criminals, delinquents. drug addicts? Popular with whom? Admired by whom? In H. G. Well’s wonderful short story, “The Valley of the Blind,” where all are blind, the sighted man is maladjusted.

Adjustment means a passive shaping of oneself to one’s culture, to the external environment. But supposing it is a sick culture? Or to give another example, we are slowly learning not to prejudge juvenile delinquents as being necessarily bad or undesirable on psychiatric grounds. Crime and delinquency and bad behavior in children may sometimes represent psychiatrically and biologically legitimate revolt against exploitation, injustice, and unfairness.

Adjustment is a passive rather than active process; its ideal is attained in the cow or in the slave or anyone else who can be happy without individuality, even, e.g., the well-adjusted lunatic or prisoner.

This extreme environmentalism implies infinite malleability and flexibility in the human being and unchangeability in reality. It is therefore status quo and fatalistic. It is also untrue. Human beings are not infinitely malleable, and reality can be changed.

6. In a completely different tradition is the medical-clinical custom of applying the word normal to the absence of lesion, disease, or obvious malfunctions. The internist who cannot find anything physically wrong after a thorough examination will say the patient is normal, even though he is in pain still. What he means is, “By my techniques I cannot discover what is wrong with you.”

The physician with some psychological training, the so-called psychosomaticist, can see still more and will use the word normal much less often. Indeed many psychoanalysts go so far as to say no one is normal, meaning completely free of sickness. That is to say, no one is without blemish. Which is true enough, but again does not help us much in our ethical pursuit.


What is taking the place of these various conceptions that we have learned to reject? The new frame of reference that this chapter is concerned with is still in process of development and construction. It cannot be said to be clearly seen yet or reliably supported by incontestable evidence at the moment. It is fair to characterize it rather as a slowly developing concept or theory that seems more and more probably to be the true direction of future development.

Specifically my prediction or guess about the future of the normality

idea is that some form of theory about generalized, species-wide. psychological health will soon be developed, which will hold for all human beginning of Christianity has been dominated by some four successive is taking place on empirical as well as on theoretical grounds. This new form of thinking has been forced by new facts, new data of which I shall speak later.

Drucker (113) has presented the thesis that western Europe since the beginning of Christianity has been dominated by some four successive ideas or concepts as to the ways in which individual happiness and welfare should be sought. Each of these concepts or myths held up a certain type of man as ideal, and generally assumed that if only, this ideal were followed, individual happiness and welfare would be sure to result. The spiritual man was regarded as ideal during the middle ages, the intellectual man during the Renaissance. Then with the rise of capitalism and Marxism, the economic man has tended to dominate ideal thinking. More recently, and especially in the fascist countries, it might also be fair to speak of a similar and parallel myth, namely, that of heroic man (heroic in the Nietzchean sense).

It looks now as if all these myths have failed, and are now giving way to a new one that is slowly developing in the minds of the most advanced thinkers and researchers on the subject, and that may fairly be expected to come into flower in the next decade or two, namely, the concept of the psychologically healthy man, or the eupsychic man, who is also in effect the “natural” man. I expect that this concept will affect our era as profoundly as have the ones mentioned by Drucker.

Now let me try to present briefly and at first dogmatically the essence of this newly developing conception of the psychologically healthy man. First of all and most important of all is the strong belief that man has an essential nature of his own, some skeleton of psychological structure that may be treated and discussed analogously with his physical structure, that he has some needs, capacities, and tendencies that are in part genetically based, some of which are characteristic of the whole human species, cutting across all cultural lines, and some of which are unique to the individual. These basic needs are on their face good or neutral rather than evil. Second, there is involved the conception that full health and normal and desirable development consist in actualizing this nature, in fulfilling these potentialities, and in developing into maturity along the lines that this hidden, covert, dimly seen essential nature dictates, growing from within rather than being shaped from without. Third, it is now seen clearly that most psychopathology results from the denial or the frustration or the twisting of man’s essential nature. By this concept what is good? Anything that conduces to this desirable development in the direction of actualization of the inner nature of man. What is bad or abnormal? Anything that frustrates or blocks or denies the essential nature of man. What is psychopathological? Anything that disturbs or frustrates or twists the course of self-actualization. What is psychotherapy, or for that matter any therapy or growth of any kind? Any means of any kind that helps to restore the person to the path of self-actualization and of development along the lines that his inner nature dictates.

At first blush, this conception reminds us a great deal of the Aristotelian and Spinozist ideas of the past. In truth, we must say that this new conception has much in common with the older philosophies. But we must also point out that we now know a great deal more than Aristotle and Spinoza about the true nature of the human being. We know in any case enough to understand what their mistakes and shortcomings were.

Primarily the kinds of knowledge that these ancient philosophers lacked and that led their theories to have fatal shortcomings have been discovered by the various schools of psychoanalysis. We have acquired from the dynamic psychologists particularly, but also from animal psychologists and others, a greatly increased understanding of man’s motivations, especially of his unconscious motivations. Second, we now have a greatly increased knowledge of psychopathology and of the origins of this psychopathology. Finally, we have learned a great deal from the psychotherapists, particularly from the discussions of the processes and the goals of psychotherapy.

What this amounts to saying is that we may agree with Aristotle when he assumed that the good life consisted in living in accordance with the true nature of man, but we must add that he simply did not know enough about the true nature of man. All that Aristotle could do in delineating this essential nature, or inherent design of human nature, was to look about him, to study people, to observe what they were like. But if one observes human beings only on the surface, which was all Aristotle could do, one must ultimately wind up with what amounts to a static conception of human nature. The only thing that Aristotle could do was to build a picture of the good man in his own culture and in that particular period of time. You remember that in his conception of the good life, Aristotle accepted completely the fact of slavery and made the fatal mistake of assuming that just because a man was a slave that this was his essential nature and therefore it was good for him to be a slave. This exposes completely the weakness of resting on a mere surface observation in the attempt to build up the idea of what the good man or the normal man or the healthy man is like.


I suppose that if I had to put into a single phrase the contrast between the Aristotelian theory and the modern conceptions of Goldstein, Fromm, Horney, Rogers, Bühler, May, Grof, Dabrowski, Munay, Sutich, Bugental, Allport, Frankl, Murphy, Rorschach, and many, many others, I would maintain that the essential difference is that we can now see not only what man is, but what he may become. That is to say that we can see not only surface, not only the actualities, but the potentialities as well. We know better now what lies hidden in man, what lies suppressed, neglected, and unseen. We are now able to judge the essential nature of man in terms of what his possibilities, potentialities, and highest possible development may be, instead of relying only on external observations, of what is the case at this moment. This approach sums up to this: history has practically always sold human nature short.

Another advantage that we have dyer Aristotle is that we have learned from these same dynamic psychologists that self-realization cannot be attained by intellect or rationality alone. You remember that Aristotle had a hierarchy of human capacities in which reason took the top place. Along with this went inevitably the notion that reason contrasted with, struggled with, and was at odds with man’s emotional and instinctoid nature. But we have learned from the study of psychopathology and psychotherapy that we must modify considerably our picture of the psychological organism to respect equally rationality, emotionality, and the conative or wishing and driving side of our nature. Furthermore, from our empirical studies of the healthy man we have learned that these are definitely not at odds with each other, that these sides of human nature are not necessarily antagonistic but can be cooperative and synergic. The healthy man is all of a piece, integrated, we might say. It is the neurotic person who is at odds with himself, whose reason struggles with his emotions. The result of this split has been that not only the emotional life and the conative have been misunderstood and badly defined, but that also we realize now that the conception of rationality that we inherited from the past is also wrongly understood and wrongly defined. As Erich Fromm has said, “Reason by becoming a guard set to watch its prisoner, human nature, has become a prisoner itself and thus both sides of human nature, reason and emotion, were crippled” (148). We must all agree with Fromm that the realization of the self occurs not only by acts of thinking but rather by the realization of man’s total personality, which includes the active expression not only of his intellectual but also his emotional and instinctlike capacities.

Once granted reliable knowledge of what man can be under certain conditions that we have learned to call good, and granted that he is happy, serene, self-accepting, unguilty, and at peace with himself only when he is fulfilling himself and becoming what he can be, it is possible and reasonable to speak about good and right and bad and wrong and desirable and undesirable.

If it is objected by the technical philosopher, “How can you prove that it is better to be happy than unhappy?” even this question can be answered empirically, for if we observe human beings under sufficiently wide conditions, we discover that they, they themselves, not the observer, choose spontaneously to be happy rather than unhappy, comfortable rather than pained, serene rather than anxious. In a word, human beings choose health rather than illness, all other things being equal (with the proviso that they choose for themselves that they be not too sick, and that the conditions be of a kind that will be discussed later).

This answers also the customary philosophical objection to the means-end value propositions with which all are familiar (If you want end x, you ought to do means y. “You ought to eat vitamins, if you want to live longer.”) We now have a different approach to this proposition. We know empirically what the human species wants, e.g., love, safety, absence of pain, happiness, prolongation of life, knowledge, etc. We can then say not, “If you wish to be happy, then,” but, “If you are a sound member of the human species, then 

This is all true in the same empirical sense that we casually say a dog prefers meat to salad, or that goldfish need fresh water, or that flowers prosper best in the sun. I maintain firmly then that we have been making descriptive, scientific statements rather than purely normative ones. (I have suggested the term fusion words, where the word is both descriptive and normative (314).

Another word for my philosophical colleagues who distinguish sharply between what we are and what we ought to be. What we can be = what we ought to be, and is much better language than ought to be. Observe that if we are being descriptive and empirical, then ought is completely out of place, as can be clearly seen if we ask about flowers or animals, what they ought to be. What sense does ought make here (or should)? What ought a kitten become? The answer to this question and the spirit in which it is put is the same for human children.

Even a stronger way of saying this is that it is today possible to distinguish in a single moment of time what a man is and what he could be.

We are all familiar with the fact that the human personality is organized into layers, or depths. That which is unconscious and that which is conscious coexist, even though they may contradict each other. One is (in one sense); the other also is (in another deeper sense) and could one day come to the surface, become conscious, and then be in that sense.

In this frame of reference, you can understand that people who behave badly may yet be loving deep down. If they manage to actualize this species-wide potentiality they become healthier men, and in this special sense, more normal.

The important difference between man and all other beings is that his needs, his preferences, his instinct remnants are weak and not strong, equivocal not unequivocal, that they leave room for doubt, uncertainty, and conflict, that they are all too easily overlaid and lost to sight by culture, by learning, by the preferences of other people.1 Through the ages we have been used to thinking of instincts as univocal, unmistakable, strong, and powerful (as they are in animals) that we never saw the possibility of weak instincts.

We do have a nature, a structure, a shadowy bone structure of instinctoid tendencies and capacities, but it is a great and difficult achievement to know it in ourselves. To be natural and spontaneous, to know what one is, and what one really wants, is a rare and high culmination that comes infrequently, and that usually takes long years of courage and hard work.


Let us sum up then. What has been affirmed is that man’s inherent design or inner nature seems to be not only his anatomy and physiology, but also his most basic needs, yearnings., and psychological capacities. And second, this inner nature is usually not obvious and easily seen, but is rather hidden and unfulfilled, weak rather than strong.

And how do we know that these needs and constitutional potentialities are inherent design? Of the twelve separate lines of evidence and techniques of discovery listed in Chapter 6 and in (298), I shall mention now only the four most important. First, frustration of these needs and capacities is psychopathogenic, i.e., it makes people sick. Second, their gratification is healthy-character-fostering (eupsychogenic), as neurotic

l Dr. Lucie Jessner has also suggested the possibility that these needs may be kept weak by the specifically human propensity to overgratify or to gratify too soon after a previous gratification.

need gratifications are not. That is, it makes people healthy and better. Third, they spontaneously show themselves as choices under free conditions. Fourth, they can be directly studied in relatively healthy people.

If we wish to differentiate basic from nonbasic, we cannot look alone to introspection of conscious needs or even to description of unconscious needs because, phenomenologically, neurotic needs and inherent needs may all feel much alike. They press equally for gratification, for the monopolizing of consciousness, and their introspected qualities are not different enough from each other to enable the introspector to differentiate them except perhaps at the end of his life and in retrospect (as did Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilyitch), or in moments of special insight.

No, we must have some other external variable to correlate with, to correlate with. In effect this other variable has been the neurosis-health continuum. We are now pretty well convinced that nasty aggressiveness is reactive rather than basic, effect rather than cause, because as a nasty person gets healthier in psychotherapy, he gets less vicious; and as a healthier person gets more sick, he changes in the direction of more hostility, more venom, and more viciousness.

Furthermore, we know that giving gratification to neurotic needs does not breed health as does gratification of basic inherent needs. Giving a neurotic power seeker all the power he wants does not make him less neurotic, nor is it possible to satiate his neurotic need for power. However much he is fed he still remains hungry (because he’s really looking for something else). It makes little difference for ultimate health whether a neurotic need be gratified or frustrated.

It is very different with basic needs like safety or love. Their gratification does breed health, their satiation is possible, their frustration does breed sickness.

The same seems to be true for individual potentialities like intelligence, or strong tendency to activity. (The only data we have here are clinical.) Such a tendency acts like a drive that demands fulfillment. Gratify it and the person develops nicely; frustrate it and block it, and various subtle troubles, not yet very well known, develop at once.

The most obvious technique of all, however, is the direct study of people who are actually healthy. We certainly know enough now to be able to select relatively healthy people. Granted that perfect specimens do not exist, still it may be expected that we can learn more about the nature, for example, of radium when it is relatively concentrated than when it is relatively dilute.

The investigation reported in Chapter 11 has demonstrated the possibility that a scientist could study and describe normality in the sense of excellence, perfection, ideal health, the fulfillment of human possibilities. If we know what good people are like or can be like, it becomes possible for the human species (who mostly want to be good) to model themselves on these paragons and improve thereby.

The most fully studied example of inherent design is the love need. With this we can illustrate all four of the techniques so far mentioned for differentiating the inherent and universal in human nature from the accidental and local.

1. It is agreed by practically all therapists that when we trace a neurosis back to its beginnings we shall find with great frequency a deprivation of love in the early years. Several semi-experimental studies have confirmed this in infants and babies to such a point that radical deprivation of love is considered dangerous even to the life of the infant. That is to say, the deprivation of love leads to illness.

2. These illnesses, if they have not gone so far as to be irreversible, are now known to be curable, especially in young children, by giving affection and loving kindness. Even in adult psychotherapy and analysis of more serious cases, there is now good reason to believe that one thing that the therapy does is to make it possible for the patient to receive and utilize the love that heals. Also there is a mounting mass of evidence to prove a correlation between affectionate childhood and a healthy adulthood. Such data add up to the generalization that love is a basic need for healthy development of the human being.

3. The child in the situation where he is permitted free choice, and granted that he is not yet warped and twisted, prefers affection to non-affection. We have no true experiments yet to prove this, but we have a huge amountof clinical data and some ethnological data to support this conclusion. The common observation that children prefer an affectionate teacher or parent or friend to the hostile or cold teacher or parent or friend illustrates what I mean. The crying of infants tells us that they prefer affection to nonaffection, for instance in the Balinese situation. The adult Balinese does not need love as the adult American does. Balinese children are taught by bitter experiences not to ask for it and not to expect it. But they do not like this training; the children weep bitterly while being trained not to ask for love.

4. Finally, what do we find descriptively in healthy adults? That practically all (though not quite all) have led loving lives, have loved and been loved. Furthermore, they are now loving people. And finally and paradoxically they need love less than the average man does, apparently because they already have enough.

A perfect parallel that makes these points more plausible and more common sense is supplied by any other of the deficiency diseases. Supposing an animal lacks salt. First this produces pathology. Second, extra salt taken into the body cures or helps these sicknesses. Third, a white rat or a human that lacks salt when given a choice will prefer salt-laden foods, that is, will eat salt in unusually large quantities and in the case of the human, will report subjective cravings for salt and will report that it tastes especially good. Fourth, we find that healthy organisms, already having enough salt, do not specially crave it or need it.

We may therefore say that just as an organism needs salt in order to attain health and avoid illness, so also does it need love for the same reasons. In other words, we can say that the organism is so designed that it needs salt and love, in the same way that automobiles are so designed that they need gas and oil.

We have spoken much of good conditions, of permissiveness, etc. These refer to the special conditions of observation that are so often necessary in scientific work and are the equivalent of saying, “This is true under such and such circumstances.”


Let us turn to this problem of what constitutes good conditions for the revelation of original nature to see what contemporary dynamic psychology has to offer on the subject.

If the upshot of what we have already said is that the organism has a vaguely delineated, intrinsic nature of its own, it is quite clear that this inner nature is a very delicate and subtle something rather than being strong and overpowering as it is in lower animals, who are never in any doubt about what they are, what they want, and what they do not want. The human needs for love, or for knowledge or for a philosophy, are weak and feeble rather than unequivocal and unmistakable; they whisper rather than shout. And the whisper is easily drowned out.

In order to discover what a human being needs and what he is, it is necessary to set up special conditions that foster expression of these needs and capacities that encourage and make them possible. In general these conditions may all be summed up under the one head of permissiveness to gratify and to express. How do we know what is best for pregnant white rats to eat? We give them free choice from among a wide range of possibilities, and we let them eat whatever they want, whenever they want it, and in any quantities or patterns they choose. We know it is best for a human infant to be weaned in an individual fashion, i.e., whenever it is best for him. How do we determine this? Certainly we cannot ask the infant, and we have learned not to ask the old-school pediatrician. We give the baby a choice; we let him decide. We offer him both the liquid

and the solid food. If the solid food appeals to him he will spontaneously —wean himself from the breast. In the same way we have learned to let the

child tell us when he needs love, or protection, or respect or control, by setting up a permissive, accepting, gratifying atmosphere. We have learned that this is the best atmosphere for psychotherapy, indeed, the only possible one, in the long run. Free choice from among a wide range of possibilities has been found useful in such diverse social situations as choosing roommates in institutions for delinquent girls, choosing teachers and courses in college, choosing bombardier crews, etc. (I leave aside the knotty but important question of desirable frustration, of discipline, of setting limits to gratification. I wish to point out only that while permissiveness may be best for our experimental purpose, it need not also be sufficient in itself for teaching consideration of others and awareness of their needs or of what may be necessary in the future.)

From the point of view, then, of fostering self-actualization or health, a good environment (in theory) is one that offers all necessary raw materials and then gets out of the way and stands aside to let the (average) organism itself utter its wishes and demands and make its choices (always remembering that it often chooses delay, renunciation in favor of others, etc., and that other people also have demands and wishes).


It has been my pleasure recently to work up a speculative description of a psychological Utopia in which all men are psychologically healthy. Eupsychia, I call it (pronounced Yew-sigh-key-a). From what we know of healthy people, could we predict the kind of culture that they would evolve if 1000 healthy families migrated to some deserted land where they could work out their own destiny as they pleased? What kind of education would they choose? Economic system? Sexuality? Religion?

I am very uncertain of some things—economics in particular. But of other things I am very sure. One of them is that this would almost surely be a (philosophically) anarchistic group, a Taoistic but loving culture, in which people (young people too) would have much more free choice than we are used to, and in which basic needs and meta needs would be respected much more than they are in our society. People would not bother each other so much as we do, would be much less prone to press opinions or religions or philosophies or tastes in clothes or food or art or women on their neighbors. In a word, the inhabitants of Eupsychia would tend to be more Taoistic, nonintrusive, and basic need-gratifying (whenever possible), would frustrate only under certain conditions that I have not attempted to describe, would be more honest with each other than we are, and would permit people to make free choices wherever possible. They would be far less controlling, violent, contemptuous, or overbearing than we are. Under such conditions, the deepest layers of human nature could show themselves with greater ease.

I must point out that adult human beings constitute a special case. The free-choice situation does not necessarily work for people in general —only for intact ones. Sick, neurotic people make the wrong choices; they do not know what they want, and even when they do, have not courage enough to choose correctly. When we speak of free choice in human beings, we refer to sound adults or children who are not yet twisted and distorted. Most of the good experimental work with free choice has been done with animals. We have also learned a great deal about it at the clinical level from the analysis of psychotherapeutic processes.


There is another important problem that confronts us as we struggle to understand this newer conception of normality and its relationship to environment. One theoretical consequence would seem to be that perfect health needs a perfect world to live in and to make it possible. In actual research, it does not seem to work out that way exactly.

It is possible to find extremely healthy individuals in our society, which is very far from perfection. Certainly these individuals are not perfect but they certainly are as fine people as we can now conceive. Perhaps at this time and in this culture we just do not know enough about how perfect people can get.

In any case, research has established an important point in discovering that individuals can be healthier, even much healthier, than the culture in which they grow and live. This is possible primarily because of the ability of the healthy man to be detached from his surroundings, which is the same as saying that he lives by his inner laws rather than by outer pressures.

Our culture is democratic and pluralistic enough to give a very wide latitude to individuals to have the characters that they please, so long as their external behavior is not too threatening or frightening. Healthy individuals are not usually externally visible; they are not marked off by unusual clothes, or manners, or behavior. It is an inner freedom that they have. So long as they are independent of the approval and disapproval

of other people, and seek rather self-approval, so long may they be considered to be psychologically autonomous, i.e., relatively independent of the culture. Tolerance and freedom of taste and opinion seem the key necessities.

To sum up, what research we have points to the conclusion that while a good environment fosters good personalities, this relationship is far from perfect, and furthermore, the definition of good environment has to change markedly to stress spiritual and psychological as well as material and economic forces.


Now coming back to the question with which we started, the nature of normality, we have come close to identifying it with the highest excellence of which we are capable. But this ideal is not an unattainable goal set out far ahead of us; rather it is actually within us, existent but hidden, as potentiality rather than as actuality.

Furthermore, it is a conception of normality that I claim is discovered rather than invented, based on empirical findings rather than on hopes or wishes. It implies a strictly naturalistic system of values that can be enlarged by further empirical research with human nature. Such research should be able to give us answers to the age-old questions “How can I be a good man?” “How can I live a good life?” “How can I be fruitful?” “Happy?” “At peace with myself?” If the organism tells us what it needs—and therefore what it values—by sickening and withering when deprived of these values, this is the same as telling us what is good for it.

One last point. The key concepts in the newer dynamic psycho1ogy are spontaneity, release, naturalness, self-choice, self-acceptance, impulse-awareness, gratification of basic needs. They used to be control, inhibition, discipline, training, shaping, on the principle that the depths of human nature were dangerous, evil, predatory, and ravenous. Education, family training, bringing up children, acculturation in general were all seen as a process of bringing the darker forces within us under control.

See how different are the ideal conceptions of society, law, education. and family that are generated by these two different conceptions of human nature. In the one case they are restraining and controlling forces; in the other they are gratifying and fulfilling.2 Of course, this is

2 Again I must stress that there are two kinds of restraint and control. One kind frustrates basic needs and fears them. The other kind (Apollonizing controls), e.g., delaying the sexual climax, eating elegantly, swimming skillfully, etc., enhances the gratification of basic needs.

an oversimple, either-or contrast. It is unlikely that either conception is totally correct or totally incorrect. Yet the contrast of ideal types is useful in sharpening our perceptions.

In any case, if this conception that identifies normality with ideal health holds up, we shall have to change not only our conceptions of individual psychology but also our theories of society.








How do people learn to be wise, mature, kind, to have good taste, to be inventive, to have good characters, to be able to fit themselves to a new situation, to detect the good. to seek the truth, to know the beautiful, and the genuine, i.e., intrinsic rather than extrinsic learning (3lla)?

Learning from unique experiences, from tragedy, marriage, having children, success, triumphy, falling in love, being ill, death, etc.

Learning from pain, illness, depression, tragedy, failure, old age. death.

Much that passes for associative learning is actually canalization (225): it is intrinsic and required by reality rather than relative, arbitrary, and fortuitous.

With self-actualizing people, repetition, contiguity, and arbitrary reward become less and less important. Probably advertising of the usual sort is ineffective with them. They are much less susceptible to arbitrary association, to prestige suggestion, to snob appeals and to simple, senseless repetition. Perhaps even they have negative effect, i.e., make them less likely to buy rather than more likely.

1 I am leaving this appendix with only minor corrections because (1) most of the suggestions are still pertinent and (2) it will be interesting to the student to see just how much progress has been made in these directions in 15 years.

Why does so much of educational psychology concern itself with means, i.e., grades, degrees, credits, diplomas, rather than with ends, i.e., wisdom, understanding, good judgment, good taste?

We do not know enough about the acquisition of emotional attitudes, of tastes, of preferences. The “learning of the heart” has been neglected.

Education in practice too often adapts the child to the convenience of adults by making him less a nuisance and a little devil. More positively oriented education concerns itself more with the growth and future self-actualization of the child. What do we know about teaching children to be strong, self-respecting, righteously indignant, resistant to domination and exploitation, to propaganda and blind enculturation, to suggestion and to fashion?

We know very little about purposeless, unmotivated learning, e.g., latent learning, learning out of sheer, intrinsic interest, etc.


Perception is too much the limited study of mistakes, distortion, illusions, and the like. Wertheimer would have called it the study of psychological blindness. Why not add to it the study of intitution, of subliminal perception, of unconscious and preconscious perception? Would not the study of good taste enter here? Of the genuine, of the true, and the beautiful? flow about the aesthetic perception? Why do some people perceive beauty and others not? Under this same heading of perception we may also include the constructive manipulation of reality by hope, dreams, imagination, inventiveness, organizing, and ordering.

Unmotivated, disinterested, unselfish perception. Appreciation. Awe. Admiration. Choiceless awareness.

Plenty of studies of stereotypes, but very little scientific study of fresh, concrete, Bergsonian reality.

Free-floating attention of the type that Freud spoke about.

What are the factors that make it possible for healthy people to perceive reality more efficiently, to predict the future more accurately, to perceive more easily what people really are like, that make it possible for them to endure or to enjoy the unknown, the unstructured and ambiguous, and the mysterious?

Why do the wishes and hopes of healthy people have so little power to distort their perceptions?

The healthier people are, the more their capacities are -interrelated. This holds also for the sensory modalities that make synaesthesia in principle a more basic study than the isolated study of separate senses. Not only is this so, but the sensory equipment as a whole is related to the motor aspects of the organism. These interrelations need more study: So also do unitive consciousness, B-cognition, illumination, transpersonal and transhuman perceiving, the cognitive aspects of mystic experiences and peak experiences, etc.


The positive emotions, i.e., happiness, calm, serenity, peace of mind, contentment, acceptance have not been studied sufficiently. Neither have compassion, pity, charity.

Fun, joy, play, games, sport, are not sufficiently understood.

Ecstasy, elation, zest, exhilaration, gaiety, euphoria, well-being, the mystic experience, the conversion experience in politics and religion, th’ emotions generated by orgasm.

The difference between the struggle, conflict, frustration, sodas anxiety, tension, guilt, shame, etc. of the psychopathological person of the healthy person. In the healthy person these are or can be influences.

The organizing effects and other good and desirable effects of emotion have been less studied than its disorganizing effects. Under which circumstances does it correlate with in creased efficiency of perception, of learning, of thinking, etc.?

The emotional aspects of cognition, e.g., the lift that comes with insight, the calming effect of understanding, the acceptance and forgive. ness that are products of deeper understanding of bad behavior.

The affective side of love and friendship, the satisfactions and pleas. ures that they bring.

In healthy people, cognition, conation, and affect are much more synergic than antagonistic or mutually exclusive. We must discover why this is so, and what the underlying mechanical arrangements are, e.g., are hypothalamic-cerebral interrelations different in the healthy? We must learn how, for instance, conative and affective mobilization helps cognition, how cognitive and conative synergic supports affect, emotions, etc. These three aspects of psychic life should be studied in their interrelations, rather than separately.

The connoisseur has been unreasonably neglected by psychologists. Simple enjoyment of eating, of drinking, of smoking, or of the other sensuous gratifications has a definite place in psychology.

What are the impulses behind the construction of utopias? What is hope? Why do men imagine and project and create ideas of heaven, of the good life, of a better society?

What does admiration mean? Awe? Amazement?

Study of inspiration? How can we inspire people to greater efforts? To better goals? etc.

Why does pleasure disappear more rapidly than pain? Are there ways to refreshen pleasure, gratification, happiness? Can we learn to appreciate our blessings instead of taking them for granted?


The parental impulses: why do we love our children, why do people want children at all, why do they make so many sacrifices for them? Or rather, why does what looks like a sacrifice to someone else not feel like a sacrifice to the parent? Why are babies lovable?

The study of justice, equality, liberty, the desire for liberty, for freedom, and for justice. Why is it that people will fight for justice at great cost to themselves or even give up their lives? Why is it that some men with nothing to gain for themselves come to the aid of the downtrodden, of the unjustly treated, and the unhappy?

The human being to some extent yearns for his goals, purposes, and ends, rather than being driven by blind impulses and drives. The latter of course also happens but not exclusively. The full picture requires both.

So far we have studied only the pathogenic effects of frustration, neglecting its “healthogenic” effects.

Homeostasis, equilibrium, adaptation, self-preservation, defense, and adjustment are merely ncgative concepts and must be supplemented by positive concepts. “Everything seems directed towards preserving life and very little towards making it worth living.” H. Poincaré said that his problem was not to earn his meals but to keep from being bored between them. If we were to define functional psychology as the study of usefulness from the point of view of self-preservation, then by extension a metafunctional psychology would study usefulness from the point of view of self-perfection.

The neglect of higher needs and neglect of the differences between lower and higher needs dooms people to disappointment when wanting continues even after a need is gratified. In the healthy person, gratification produces, not cessation of desire, but after a temporary period of contentment, substitution of higher desires and higher frustration levels, along with the same old restlessness and dissatisfaction.

Appetites and preferences and tastes, as well as the brute, life-and-death, desperate hungers.

Urge to perfection, truth, justice (same as straightening a crooked picture? Or completing an incompleted task? Or perseveration of an unsolved problem?). The Utopian impulse, the desire to improve the external world, to set wrong things right.

Neglect of cognitive needs, e.g., by Freud (18), as well as by the academic psychologists.

The conative side of aesthetics, the aesthetic needs.

We do not sufficiently understand the motivations of the martyr, the hero, the patriot, the unselfish man. The Freudian nothing-but, reductive explanations do not explain healthy people.

How about the psychology of right and wrong, the psychology of ethics and of morality?

The psychology of science, of the scientist, of knowledge, of the search for knowledge, of the impulses behind the search for knowledge, of the philosophical impulse.

Appreciation, contemplation, meditation.

Sex is customarily discussed as if it were a problem of avoiding the plague. The preoccupation with the dangers of sex has obscured the obvious that it can be or should be a very enjoyable pastime and possibly also a very profoundly therapeutic and educational one.


Must we rest content with a definition of intelligence that is derived from what is the case, rather than what should be the case? The whole concept of IQ has nothing to do with wisdom; it is a purely technological concept.

For example, Goering had a high IQ but was in a very real sense a stupid man. He was certainly a vicious man. I do not think there is any great harm in separating out the specific concept of high IQ. The only trouble is that in a psychology that limits itself so, the more important subjects— wisdom, knowledge, insight, understanding, common sense, good judgment—are neglected in favor of the IQ because it is technologically more satisfactory. For the humanist, of course, it is a highly irritating concept.

What are the influences that raise the IQ—effective intelligence, common sense, good judgment? We know much about what harms them, little about what improves them. Could there be a psychotherapy of the intelligence.

An organismic conception of intelligence?

To what extent are the intelligence tests culture-bound?


Change of mind. Conversion. Psychoanalytic insight. Sudden understanding. The perception of principle. Illumination. Satori. Awakening.

Wisdom. What are the relations with good taste, with good morals, kindness, etc.?

The characterological and therapeutic effects of sheer knowledge.

The study of creativeness and of productiveness should have an important place in psychology. In thinking we should pay more attention to the study of novelty, of inventiveness, of the production of new ideas, rather than to the finding of solutions to predetermined puzzles of the type so far used in thinking studies. Since thinking at its best is creative, why not study it at its best?

The psychology of science and scientists, of philosophy and philosophers.

Thinking in the healthiest people—if they are also intelligent—is not only of the Dewey type, i.e., stimulated by some disequilibrating problem or nuisance, and disappearing when the problem is solved. It is also spontaneous, sportive, and pleasurable, and is often emitted, or produced without effort, automatically, as the liver secretes bile. Such men enjoy being thinking animals, they do not have to be harassed into it.

Thinking is not always directed, organized, motivated, or goal-bent. Fantasy, dreaming, symbolism, unconscious thinking, infantile, emotional thinking, psychoanalytic free association, are all productive in their own way. Healthy people come to many of their conclusions and decisions with the aid of these techniques, traditionally opposed to rationality but in actuality synergic with it.

The concept of objectivity. Disinterestedness. Passive response to the nature of reality per se without injecting any personal or ego elements. Problem-centered rather than ego-centered cognition. Taistic objectivity, love-objectivity, vs. spectator-objectivity.


In general, we should learn to see as psychopathology any failure to achieve self-actualization. The average or normal person is just as much a case as the psychotic, even though less dramatic, and less urgent.

The aims and goals of psychotherapy should be positively seen. (This is of course true also for the goals of education, of the family, of medicine, of religion and philosophy.) The therapeutic values of good and successful

life experiences should be stressed, as for example, marriage, friendship, economic success, etc.

Clinical psychology is not the same as abnormal psychology. Clinical psychology may be the personal, individual case study of successful and happy and healthy individuals as well. Clinical psychology can study health as well as illness, the strong, the courageous, and the kind as well as the weak, the cowardly, and the cruel.

Abnormal psychology should not be limited to the study of schizophrenia, but should also include such subjects as cynicism, authoritarianism, anhedonia, the loss of values, prejudice, hatred, greed, selfishness, and the like. These are the serious diseases from the point of view of values. Dementia praecox, manic depression, obsession-compulsions and the like are the serious diseases of mankind from the point of view of technology, that is, in the sense that they limit efficiency. But it would have been a blessing, not a curse, if Hitler or Mussolini or Stalin had broken down with obvious schizophrenia. What we should study from the point of view of positive and value-oriented psychology are those disturbances that make men bad or limited in the value sense. Cynicism, then, is certainly more important socially than depression.

We spend a great amount of time studying criminality. Why not study also law-abidingness, identification with society, philanthropy, social conscience, Gemeinschaftsgefuhl?

In addition to studying the psychotherapeutic effects of the good life experiences, such as marriage, success, having children, falling in love, education, etc., we should also study the psychotherapeutic effects of bad experiences, particularly of tragedy, but also, illness, deprivation, frustration, conflict, and the like. Healthy people seem able to turn even such experiences to good use.

The study of interest (as contrasted with the study of boredom). Those who have vitality, wish for life, resistance to death, zest.

‘ Our present knowledge of personality dynamics, of health, and adjustment comes almost entirely from the study of sick people. Not only will the study of healthy people correct this and teach us directly about psychological health, but I am sure it will also teach us much more than we know now about neurosis, psychosis, psychopathy, and psychopathology in general.

The clinical study of ability, capacity, skills, craftsmanship. Vocation, calling, mission.

The clinical study of genius and talent. We spend far more time and money on feeble-minded people than on intelligent people.

Frustration theory as usually conceived is a good example of cripple psychology. In too many theories of child raising, the child is conceived of in the original Freudian fashion, as a completely conservative organism; hanging on to already achieved adjustments; it has no urge to go on to a new adjustment, to grow and to develop in its own style.

To this day, the psychodiagnostic techniques are used to diagnose pathology, not health. We have no good Rorschach or TAT or MMPI norms for creativeness, ego strength, health, self-actualization, hypnosis, resistance to disease. Most personality questionnaires are still modeled on the original Woodworth model; they list many symptoms of sickness, and a good or healthy score is the absence of responses to these list of symptoms.

Since psychotherapy improves people, we miss an opportunity to see people at their best by failing to study the posttherapeutic personality.

The study of peakers and nonpeakers, i.e., those who do and those who do not have peak-experiences.


In animal psychology, the stress has been on hunger and thirst. Why not study the higher needs? We actually do not know whether the white rat has anything to compare with our higher needs for love, beauty, understanding, status, and the like. With the techniques now available to animal psychologists, how could we know? We must get over the psychology of the desperate rat, the rat who is pushed to the point of starvation, or who is pushed by pain or electric shock into an extreme situation, one so extreme that human beings seldom find themselves in it. (Some such work has been done with monkeys and apes.)

The study of understanding and insight should be more stressed than the study of rote, blind association learning, the higher levels of intelligence as well as the lower, the more complex, as well as the less complex, the higher limits of animal performance have been neglected in favor of averages.

When Husband (204) showed that a rat could learn a maze almost as well as a human being, the maze should have been dropped once and for all as an instrument for the study of learning. We know in advance that the human being learns better than the rat. Any technique that cannot demonstrate this is like measuring people who are bent over in a room with a low ceiling. What we are measuring is the ceiling, not the people. All that a maze does is to measure a low ceiling and not the height to which learning and thinking may go, not even in the rat.

It seems very probable that the use of higher animals rather than lower animals would teach us much more about human psychology.

It should always be kept in mind that the use of animals guarantees advance the neglect of just those capacities which are uniquely human, for example, martyrdom, self-sacrifice, shame, symbols, language, love, humor, art, beauty, conscience, guilt, patriotism, ideals, the production of poetry or philosophy or music or science. Animal psychology is necessary for learning about those human characteristics that man shares with all primates. It is useless in the study of those characteristics which man does not share with other animals or in which he is vastly superior, such as latent learning.


Social psychology should be more than a study of imitation, suggestion, prejudice, hatred, hostility. These are minor forces in healthy people.

Theory of democracy, of anarchism. Democratic, interpersonal relationship. The democratic leader. Power in a democracy and among democratic people and in the democratic leader. The motivations of the unselfish leader. Sound people dislike having power over other people. Social psychology is too much dominated by a low-ceiling, lower-animal conception of power.

Competition is studied more than cooperation, altruism, friendliness, unselfishness.

The study of freedom and of free men has little or no place in social psychology today.

How is culture improved? What are the good effects of the deviant? We know that culture can never advance or be improved without deviants. How have they not been more studied? Why are they generally considered to be pathological? Why not healthy?

Brotherhood and equalitarianism deserves as much attention as class and caste and domination in the social sphere. Why not study the religious brotherhoods? The consumers’ and producers’ cooperatives? Intentional and Utopian communities?

The culture-personality relationship is usually studied as if culture were the prime mover, as if its shaping force were inexorable. But it can be and is resisted by stronger and healthier people. Acculturation and enculturation work only to an extent with some people. The study of freedom from the environment is called for.

Opinion polling is based on the uncritical acceptance of a low conception of human possibilities, i.e., the assumption that people’s votes will be determined by selfishness or by sheer habit. This is true, but only in the unhealthy 99 percent of the population. Healthy human beings vote or buy or form judgments at least partially on the basis of logic, common sense, justice, fairness, reality, etc., even when this is against their own interests, narrowly and selfishly considered.

Why is there so much neglect of the fact that leadership in democracies is very often sought for the opportunity of service rather than to have power over other people? This has been completely neglected even -though it has been a profoundly important force in American history and in world history as well. It is quite clear that Jefferson never wanted power or leadership for any selfish benefits that might come from it, but that he felt rather that he should sacrifice himself because he could do a good job that needed to be done.

The sense of duty, of loyalty, obligation to society, responsibility, the social conscience. The good citizen, the honest man. We spend much time studying the criminal, why not these?

The crusader. The fighter for principle, for justice, for freedom, for equality. The idealist.

The good effects of prejudice, of unpopularity, of deprivation, and of frustration. There is little effort among psychologists to get the full many-sidedness of even pathological phenomena like prejudice. There are certain good consequences of excluding or ostracizing. This is especially so if the culture is a doubtful one or a sick or a bad one. Ostracism from such a culture is a good thing for the person, even though it may cost much pain. Self-actualizing people often ostracize themselves by withdrawing from subcultures of which they disapprove.

We do not know as much about the saint, the knight, the do-gooder, the hero, the unselfish leader as we do about the tyrant, the criminal, the psychopath.

Conventionality has its good side and its desirable effects. The good conventions. The contrasting value of conventions in a healthy and in a sick society. The same for “middleclass” values.

Kindness, generosity, benevolence, and charity have too little place in the social psychology textbooks.

The rich liberal, like Franklin Roosevelt, or Thomas Jefferson, who, quite in contradiction to the dictates of his own pocketbook, fights against his own economic interest, in the interest of fairness, and justice, etc.

While there is much written about anti-Semitism, anti-Negroism, racism, and xenophobia, there is very little recognition of the fact that there is also such a thing as philo-Semitism, Negrophilia, sympathy for the underdog, etc. This illustrates how we concentrate more on hostility than on altruism, or sympathy or concern for people who are treated badly.

The study of sportsmanship, of fairness, of the sense of justice, of concern for the other fellow.

In textbooks of interpersonal relations or of social psychology the study of the love, the marriage, the friendliness, and of the therapeutic relationship might very well be paradigmatic for all the chapters that followed. As of today, however, they are rarely taken seriously by extant textbooks.

Sales resistance, advertising resistance, propaganda resistance, opinion-of-other-people resistance, maintenance of autonomy, suggestion resistance, imitation resistance, prestige resistance are all high in healthy people, and low in average people. These symptoms of health should be more extensively studied by applied social psychologists.

Social psychology must shake itself free of that variety of cultural relativism, which stresses too much man’s passivity, plasticity, and shapelessness and too little his autonomy, his growth tendencies, and the maturation of inner forces. It should study the active agent as well as the pawn.

Either psychologists and social scientists will supply empirical value systems for humanity or no one will. This task alone generates a thousand problems.

From the point of view of the positive development of human potentiality, psychology was very largely a complete failure during World War II. It was used by very many psychologists as a technology only and was allowed to apply only what was already known. Practically nothing new in psychological theory has come out of the war yet, though there may be later developments. This meant that many psychologists and other scientists allied themselves with the short sighted people who stressed only the winning of the war and neglected the winning of the peace afterward. They neglected entirely the point of the whole war, making it into a technological game rather than a value struggle which it actually was, or at least was supposed to be. There was little in the body of psychology to prevent them from making this mistake, no philosophy for instance which separated technology from science, no value theory which enabled them to understand clearly what democratic people are really like, what the fighting was all about, and what its emphases were or should have been. They addressed themselves generally to means-questions rather than end-questions and could have been put to as good use by the Nazis as by the democracies. Their efforts were of little avail in preventing the growth of authoritarianism even in our own country.

Social institutions, and indeed culture itself, are customarily studied as shapers, forcers, inhibitors, rather than as need gratifiers, happiness producers, self-actualization fosterers. “Is culture a set of problems or a set of opportunities?” (A. Meiklejohn). The culture-as-shaper concept is probably a consequence of too exclusive experience with pathological cases. The use of healthier subjects suggests rather culture-as-reservoir-of-gratifications. The same may probably be affirmed for the family which is also seen too often to be a shaping, training, molding force exclusively.


The concept of the well-adjusted personality or of good adjustment sets a low ceiling upon the possibility for advancement and for growth. The cow, the slave, the robot may all be well adjusted.

The superego of the child is ordinarily conceived of as introjection of fear, punishment, loss of love, abandonment, etc. The study of children and adults who are safe, loved and respected indicates the possibility of an intrinsic conscience built on love identification, the desire to please and to make others happy, as well as on truth, logic, justice, consistency, right, and duty.

The behavior of the healthy person is less determined by anxiety, fear, insecurity, guilt, shame, and more by truth, logic, justice, reality, fairness, fitness, beauty, rightness, etc.

Where are the researches on unselfishness? Lack of envy? Will power? Strength of character? Optimism? Friendliness? Realism? Self-transcendence? Boldness, courage? Lack of jealousy? Sincerity? Patience? Loyalty? Reliability? Responsibility?

Of course the most pertinent and obvious choice of subject for a positive psychology is the study of psychological health (and other kinds of health, aesthetic health, value health, physical health, and the like). But a positive psychology also calls for more study of the good man, of the secure and of the confident, of the democratic character, of the happy man, of the serene, the calm, the peaceful, the compassionate, the generous, the kind, of the creator, of the saint, of the hero, of the strong man, of the genius, and of other good specimens of humanity.

What produces the socially desirable characteristics of kindliness, social conscience, helpfulness, neighborliness, identification, tolerance, friendliness, desire for justice, righteous indignation?

We have a very rich vocabulary for psychopathology but a very meager one for health or transcendence.

Deprivation and frustration have some good effects. The study of just as well as of unjust discipline is indicated, as is also study of the selfdiscipline that comes from being allowed to deal directly with reality, learning from its intrinsic rewards and punishments, its feedback.

The study of idiosyncrasy and individuality (not individual differences in the classical sense). We must develop an idiographic science of personality.

How do people get to be unlike each other instead of like each other (acculturated, ironed out by the culture, etc.)?

What is dedication to a cause? What produces the dedicated, devoted person who identifies himself with an ego-transcending cause or mission?

The contented, happy, calm, serene, peaceful personality.

The tastes, values, attitudes, and the choices of self-actualizing people are to a great extent on an intrinsic and reality-determined basis, rather than on a relative and extrinsic basis. It is therefore a taste for the right rather than wrong, for the true rather than the false, for the beautiful rather than the ugly. They live within a system of stable values and not in a robot world of no values at all (only fashions, fads, opinions of others, imitation, suggestion, prestige).

Frustration level and frustration tolerance may very well be much higher in self-actualizing people. So also guilt level, conflict level, and shame level.

Child-parent relationships have usually been studied as if they were only a set of problems, only a chance to make mistakes. They are primarily a pleasure and a delight, and a great opportunity to enjoy. This is true even for adolescence, too often treated as if akin to a plague.

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