The goal of the Linux-Society (LS, dating back to the mid-90s as a professional club and tech-mentoring group) has been a purely-democratic Information Society; many of the articles are sociological in nature. The LS was merged with Perl/Unix of NY to form multi-layered group that included advocacy, project-oriented learning by talented high school students: textbook constructivism. Linux has severe limitations such that it is useless for any computer that will, say, print or scan. It is primarily used for webservers and embedded devices such as the Android. (Google is high-invested in it).

Technology is problematic. During the heyday of technology (1990s), it seemed it had the democratic direction Lewis Mumford said it should have in his seminal
Technics and Civilization.

Today, we are effectively stuck with Windows as Linux is poor on the desktop and has cultured a maladaptive following. Apple is prohibitive, and all other operating systems lack drivers, including Google's Android, an offshoot of linux.

In the late 90s there was hope for new kernels such as LibOS and ExoOS that would bare their hardware to programs, some of which would be virtual machines such as Java uses. Another important player was the L4 system that is a minor relation to the code underlying the Apple's systems. It was highly scientific but fell into the wrong hangs, apparently, and has suffered from having no progress on the desktop. There is a version, "SE" that is apparently running in many cell phones as specialized telecom chips, but is proprietary. SE's closed nature was only recently revealed, which is important because it is apparently built from publicly-owned code as it is not a "clean room" design it may violate public domain protections, and most certainly violates the widely-accepted social contract.

Recent attempts to enjoin into L4 development as an advocate for "the people" have been as frustrating (and demeaning) as previous attempts with the usual attacks to self-esteem by maladaptive "hacks" being reinforced by "leadership" (now mostly university professors).

In short, this leaves us with Windows, which is quite a reversal if you have read earlier posts here. But, upon Windows, we have free and open software development systems in the forms of GTK+ (the windows usually used on Linux) and the Minimal GNU Windows (MinGW and MSYS) systems. It is very likely this direction that development should go (that is, on Windows) such that s/w can then be ported to a currently-valid microkernel system that includes a driver system that can be adapted by hardware developers to reuse of their windows and apple drivers.

From a brief survey of L4, it appears that the last clean copy was the DROPS system of the early 2010s, was a German effort that used the Unix-like "OS kit" from an American University.

If we are going to be stuck on Windows, then it seems that a high level approach to free and open systems integration, such as creating fully transparent mouse communication between apps so that they can seamlessly work together as a single desktop (rather than deliberately conflicting). This would be very helpful for GIMP and Inkscape, both leading graphics programs that are strong in the special ways, but suffer from an inability to easily interrelate.

Another important issue is the nature, if you can call it that, of the "geek" or "hack." Technology is formed democratically but "harvested" authoritarian-ly --if I can coin a term that Mumford might use. Authority is plutarchy: a combination of aristocracy and oligarchy that is kept alive after all these millennia by using, or maligning, the information society as a part of the civilizing (or law-giving) process that embraces the dialectic as its method. Democratic restoration, that is to put humanity back on an evolutionary (and not de-evolutionary) track, I think, will require the exclusion of the "geek" from decision-making. As is, the free/open s/w culture attempts to give leadership to those who write the most lines of code --irrespective of their comprehension of the real world or relationship with normal users. We need normal people to somehow organize around common sense (rather than oligarchic rationalism) to bring to life useful and cohesive software and communications systems.

Interestingly, the most popular page on this site is about Carl Rogers' humanistic psychology, and has nothing to do with technology.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Carl Rogers and Humanistic Healing

Therapy for the World

Empathy, Part One

Through empathy, understanding, genuine trust and a personal connection Carl R. Rogers helped many people overcome emotional difficulties. He showed therapists how to become close and caring friends to those they where helping. He carefully structured his beliefs and methods into concise paragraphs creating clear guidelines for both therapeutic help as well as common everyday life experiences and interactions. He went beyond helping individuals to create similarly sincere therapeutic groups, concepts of participation by students in education and he also sought to help join the world together by facilitating genuine and candid interactions.

Rogers, with his colleagues, created a thought process of understanding unique in the world in that it seeks to find within the individual person all the components necessary for what he termed the “good life.” The therapeutic technique is generally know as “client centered therapy.”

In his most successful clients (as he refers to those he helped) he showed that life is not the goal but the journey. The healing process is the living process and that happiness is not necessarily just feeling good but constantly growing and fulfilling one's potentials. The most common term for this is self-actualization.

Within life, he felt, is "an energy" with gives life direction. His focus was on finding this energy within those he worked with but he said that he was frequently reminded of an early experience. Potato plants that had grown in the basement of his childhood home. They were kept in a box by a dirty window that allowed minimal sunlight. There was no hope for these potatoes to blossom, yet they grew towards the light anyway. These plants were symbolic for the spirit of life that every organism has to succeed to its greatest potential. He found that patients hopelessly forgotten in back wards of mental institutions sought each day to do their best even though they had little hope of a normal, happy life. This energy, he proved, reaches throughout humanity and his well developed concepts are still waiting a vehicle of communication to facilitate the dialog, sharing of feelings, and reduction of hostilities which will be necessary for greater successes for all of humanity.

Within the world of therapy there are many rivalries. Each philosophy diverges from the other and claims to be the only true solution. No modern therapeutic technique, however, discards Rogers' concern for a genuine relationship between therapists and clients. Rogerian therapists are always open to learn from other therapeutic strains so long as they adhere to the openness and genuineness required for the helping and healing relationship.

As I began to explore Carl Rogers' life experiences (to Rogers, life is the dynamic interaction of experiences), I began to realize that he, and his colleagues, created a philosophy which is the foundation on which rests many of the better parts of our society. Clearly, our society is based to a large degree on information and knowledge, so much so, that the wealthier nations can be termed "Information Societies" where a good portion of the workers labor with knowledge. Rogers and his colleagues created a mindset as part of their efforts, which allows this process of communication to exist openly. Today's Internet is the most impressive aspect of the "Information Society", yet it may not have been possible for all the computers of the world to communicate with genuine trust as they do if this philosophy of openness had not been created.

What strikes me with resounding solidity is that society can greatly benefit from the vast open matrix of computer communication by allowing the flow of genuine empathy and regard between all peoples along the digital pathways. The same healing relationships that successful therapists have with their clients and groups can be used to stem the suffering from pain caused by humanity's more dangerous members. Proactively, this philosophy can be shared to allow those who have contributed to this pain to find a better path for life; this was Rogers' goal as much as any other. He believed that the path to improvement lies within every human as a condition of our species, even in the most seemingly hopeless examples of humanity.

Rogers' Therapy
Rogers put all the conditions and expected results in very simple terms, almost in a handbook format. All through his life, he returned to his basic principles though as he became more experienced, his phrases became simpler and more succinct and their application to humanity grew in scale. He started his career thinking very scientifically but moved to include a more human approach, yet he adhered to the importance of science in as an component of psychotherapy.

He gave these conditions as necessary for creating a healing environment for his, and as he contends, guardedly, all successful psychotherapy.

  • The client perceives himself as faced by a serious and meaningful problem
  • The therapist is a congruent person in the relationship, able to be the person he is
  • The therapist feels unconditional positive regard for the client
  • The therapist feels an empathic understanding of the client's inner world and communicates this
  • The client experiences to some degree the therapist's congruence, acceptance and empathy

The client has determined that there is something wrong that is profoundly impacting life. To help him, the therapist has to have a genuine interest in the client, there has to be realness to his concern with out a professional front. The therapist has to be congruent himself, meaning his awareness has to be aligned with his experiences. This congruence is a key to Rogers' belief, that all the experiences of life, memories, good or bad, give us the ability to deal with everyday life, to tell us how we should behave with every circumstance. If all these experiences are in congruence with the present awareness, then the therapist is “being” and able to help the client.

The therapist has to have genuine respect for the humanness of the client, “an unconditional positive regard.” Another basis of Rogers' belief is that humans are very remarkable and deserving of respect. He sees them (or us) as “incredible forms of life”, people “have the most exciting potential” for the “greatest possibilities.” He places his “primary value” on the individual. The “unconditional positive regard” includes also therapist's willingness to be for the client “whatever immediate feeling is going on.” Unconditional regard “prizes” the client in a total rather than a conditional way to be “whatever the client is at the moment.” His approach, he says, is built on basic trust in the person.

Empathy is also a very key component and its meaning to Rogers is the same as Webster's second definition, “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” The etymology is more telling, deriving the word from the Greek empatheia, literally meaning passion.

Openness required too; as part of the genuineness, the therapist has to relate his own feelings about the client's concerns, not as advice, but as a reflection based on his awareness and experience.

The healing process, or the motion forward to a better life, begins with out motivation from therapist, but as a process Rogers believes is common to every organism, the tenancy for life to be as good as it can possibly be. This tendency, called “self actualizing”, is for an organism to “flow in all the different channels” and to “grow, develop, to reach its full potential.” In application to physical healing, he cites studies of
terminal cancer patients who where encouraged in this process by being given “meditation and fantasy training” focused on overcoming their malignancies. Many were able to experience remission.

The successful client moves from profound distress to what he calls “the good life.” This not necessarily a happy, contented and blissful person who feels good, but a person rich in experience and awareness. “Significant movement in therapy”, he says, “may bring greater awareness of pain but also of ecstasy, anger is more clearly felt but so is love, fear is known more deeply but so is courage.” The client has greater confidence in themselves as the have developed “trustworthy instruments for encountering life.”

Since a client in motion has a clearer understanding of his experiences, particularly bad ones, he can feel more comfortable with them and move away from definitiveness towards openness. He is more aware of himself and what is going on within as much as he is aware of what is going on within others around him. He is able to “live fully in each moment” and experience life as it is rather than living by some “preconceived self-structure.”

Personally, I feel bliss, content and happiness in those rare moments that I feel such congruence, but that is not the point. Life is, to Rogers, clearly the journey and not any form of goal or conclusion. Or as he might have said “Life IS.” He developed these simple yet profound beliefs in many parallel yet equally simple paradigms as he applies it to many aspects of human life.

Rogers had an strongly negative view of teaching, in fact he seems to have hated it. In contrast to his benignly positive view towards therapy, he suggested the following:

  • Do away with teaching ... people would get together to if they wished to learn ...
  • Do away with examinations ... they measure only the inconsequential type of learning
  • Do away with grades for the same reason
  • Do away with degrees [which] mark the conclusion of something [where] a learner is interested only in the continuing process of learning
  • Do away with the exposition of conclusions [since] no one learns significantly from conclusions

Learning he says, was more that the accumulation of facts, quoting a professor he had in an earlier incarnation as an agronomist, “don't be the ammunition wagon, be the rifle.” Whatever this professor taught Rogers was lost over time but the professor's old-school approach appealed to him greatly. Most educators, he said, believed that “Knowledge exists primarily for use.”

To the end of this list, he adds, “I think I better stop there ... I do not want to become too fantastic.” He was painfully aware of his advanced thinking especially within the time period he experienced them for the first time. Even today these would very likely be considered “fighting words” to many traditional administrators.

“Teaching to teach is futile”, he says, “because anything that can be taught has no significant influence on behavior.” Discovery would therefore be the only legitimate learning path and people, if they want, can “learn together.” Testing is a total waste in his view, as it tests only a students ability to take a test. Since life is so dynamic in its constant changes, degrees, credits and even conclusions are limiting. They prevent the process of learning from its natural tenancy to continue its process.

As one may guess, many of his conditions for therapeutic environment would apply to learning as well. Therapy is growth as is learning. Genuineness on the part of the teacher is necessary for successful students and he cited many studies as proof. Greater class participation and independent thinking were achieved when teachers showed greater “empathy, prizing and realness.”

While his therapeutic approach is called “client centered therapy” this wider application of his beliefs is called the “person centered approach.” It extends farther and wider as he grew personally. Sharing power and control in an education environment is daring. What if it backfires? Students might find it much easier to conform rather than take responsibility for their own education. There exists an obvious threat to the daring administrator; “responsible freedom and shared power”, Rogers says, would be perceived as a “revolutionary force to be suppressed.”

As an example he cites a group of tribal natives in New Zealand who were labeled as slow learners. Their teacher asked them to ask about words that they wanted to know about and she provided information cards describing them. They built their own proper vocabularies that were relevant to their own lives and did so with excellent progress. The teacher, no doubt, felt herself isolated in the educational system especially having done this in the first half of the last century.

Another example of his is the sad story of a brilliant, yet technically unqualified, administrator who was hurt for his successes. He was given control of a dysfunctional school and by obtaining the participation of students, teachers and parents and giving them power of policy, he was able to allow them to create a splendid school. As soon as the school was economically more viable, the school board was able to hire a “more qualified” administrator, and the school's daring savior was fired.

Freedom in the Person
Rogers believed very strongly in personal freedom especially with respect to the choices of direction and growth. He quoted a “confused psychotic man” whose healing had begun to grow as saying, “I don't know what I am going to do, but I'M going to do it." This man's goal, however nebulous, is significant to Rogers. His freedoms, choices and personal goals have profound meaning. behavioral sciences, he felt, had made such terms meaningless, especially to someone suffering from psychosis. Such concern for the respect of the inner direction and freedoms so unconditionally is unique in our society. In its inner journey it goes well beyond the common scope of the concept of freedom, no matter how liberal.

Freedom in Groups
As his experience grew, he conducted ground breaking experiments with group dynamics. His results were almost always predictable, most participants would be delighted at the experience, yet some would be upset with having been given so much freedom.

In Basil he experimented with leaderless groups in a seminar context. His audiences where well into the hundreds and they were all given the opportunity to share their feelings and exercise leadership. “Most daring” of these group meetings he said, “was the forming of a large circle of eight hundred people.” “It became a mammoth encounter group” where people experienced learning greater than they had every before in such a short time. After “much initial chaos” people all began to communicate and listen to one another. These successes led to more ambitious challenges where Rogers very likely influenced the world we live in. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize shortly before his death.

Rogers was remarkable in his respect for science and his belief in the scientific method of discovery in a balance with the needs for understanding and empathy in psychotherapy.

In his usual and simple concise format he developed a short list of conditions he recommended as the basis for scientific discovery. He says that “sensing a pattern of relationships is a the heart of true science” and that great scientists such as Kepler, Einstein and others have learned to trust this intuitive sensing. He finds that beauty in the natural world is an indicator of fruitful discovery.

  • Keen and alert intelligence
  • Dedicated immersion over time with a broad range of phenomena
  • Commitment to finding out
  • Fresh non-defensive approach, laying aside previous knowledge
  • Openness to all avenues of knowledge
  • Trust in the total organismic sensing
  • Recognition of beauty or elegance of the perceptions of the pattern
  • Recognition that unity in the pattern is likely to provide fruitful discovery

To become legitimate science, every hypothesis has to be tested. He had “deep respect for the methodologies that scientists have developed” and was not shy about measuring the effectiveness of his own therapy. From the earliest success in his career he integrated whatever testing systems were available. Some seem complicated even by today's standards especially the Q- technique. He used it to measure the results of therapy as expected and realized by clients. In one example, the “client perceives herself as having become very similar to the person she wanted to be ... (rIB*SF2 = .70).”

Rogers was not shy of emerging technologies either. He immediately integrated the magnetic tape recorder into his therapy as well as film as soon as it became available to him. Computers were intriguing to him as well, the concept of fuzzy logic caught his attention as a possible way to enhance therapeutic science. Since it deals with the area of inaccuracy one might think that chaos theory may have had even more appeal for him. He encouraged young psychologists and social scientists to explore all these exciting new avenue.

Different Focuses of Therapy, Part Two

In identifying different kinds of therapy to understand how therapy can benefit a newer world, I looked at four branches and looked at each of their founders in varying depth. Therapeutic schools of theory seem to fall on two axises. One axis defines the importance of either self, where much of life's experiences spring from within, or, conversely, exterior stimulus or lessons control the personality. The other axis defines the level of importance of the experiences of life of the person in therapy (here called a client) and the level of importance of empathy and genuineness in the therapeutic relationship.

In terms of benefit to the human race in general, the method of therapy has to scale, meaning that it has to effectively work with groups of people as well as individuals and it has to benefit from the newer two-way communications technologies available. Since the therapist, or activist, needs to expand his influence, the method of healing would have to be something that would be popularly accepted world-wide.

Freud began a search within the human to find a reality within the individual that defines the patterns in life, which is stronger than life's experiences. (Rog-Skin, 91-92) On the simple axis, this puts him in the “self” category. However, in his interviews with his clients, he did not really believe them directly, he interpreted what they said in ways that would reveal symbols of inner conflicts. He was also harsh in his assessment of humanity in general, almost cynical and was compared to Hitler by Carl Rogers when he said that humanity “wants to be oppressed and to fear its masters”, and that “the human is at its deepest level untrustworthy.” This places him high on the “self scale” and low on the “empathy scale.”

B. F. Skinner, who came later, applied the operant behavioral conditioning theories of his experiences with experimentation on rats to the human personality. He showed how conditioning, life's carrots, is the strongest force in the development of the human personality, and he believed that by only offering positive rewards for good behavior he could reform the human mind to do what it ought to and not what it is doing that is wrong. He attempted to scale his theory to the level of social engineering by creating the fictitious Walden II community. Skinner loved the Earth and could probably be called an environmentalist. To meet the goal a society that does not impact the planet negatively, Walden II used positive reinforcement, and social fairness, to obtain the best results from its citizens. The protagonist of the story, Walden II's leader, was an engineer by trade and his operational philosophy can only be called “social engineering.” In the end the Utopian community seems to resemble some cultist religions, but the most important feature about it was that the conditioning process was done without the knowledge of the citizens; they had no say over their own fate, having no autonomy or independence. In terms of the simple axis, Skinner was below the line on the “self scale” since behavior is controlled by the stimulus of life, and low on the “empathy and involvement” scale since he advocated reaching humans without their knowledge or consent.

Aaron Beck's cognitive school of thought is very useful in defining the behaviors in people. His theory lies a layer above Skinner's, he believes that experience's in life make learning impression on the mind which can be good or bad, depending on the quality of the learning. It seems to resemble old-fashioned learning where what is taught is to be believed and not questioned. To help a client, re-teaching wrongly learned lessons is the way to psychological happiness. Sometimes a phobia, such as entering an airplane, is preceded by an “automatic thought”, almost a quick movie of a bad experience that suddenly instills fear, preventing the person from entering the airplane. All that has to be done, he says, is to identify the automatic thought and relearn a better thought through mental exercises controlled by the therapist. He works closely with the client to determine what is causing problems and the client is a key part of the therapeutic process, he strongly believes in empathy in the therapeutic relationship. He stops short, however, of giving the client too much credit for his own knowledge and experience. One of his examples for the uses of empathy is to show the client that the therapist, as an authority figure, is warm and caring; therefore the client learns to trust authority. The client's experiences with authority would presumably be replaced with a better outlook. He studies the client's experiences, but does not think they are a necessary component in moving forward, so the self axis would be low. Empathy is somewhere in the middle, it is not as genuine as it could be. He is using it to achieve a goal, and having done that, the empathy has served its purpose.

For Rogers, life experiences are key to the personality, he accepts genetic and behavioral influences as making key contributions but relies entirely on the concept that the personality springs from within and that it is a good thing trying always to reach the best possible potential. He sees it in all living things, often referring to it with Maslow's term of self-actualization. Of the therapeutic schools, Rogers’s theories rate highest in both respect for the self and the involvement of the client and his experiences.

More on Beck
In applying therapeutic models to the world at large, it has to be understood that the many nations would need to have to accept the process as being beneficial to them, therapeutic methods would have to rate high in both empathy and in respect. There has to be good feeling, and there has to be a genuine effort to achieve the respect necessary for acceptance. Rogers and Beck both seem to have philosophies that would scale well to the world at large.

Beck's strength is in giving insight into how humans think when things go wrong. He very scientifically carries out meta studies combining the experiences of many therapists along with his own.

With Beck's explanations, problems in the world become surprisingly simple. He sees global strife as following the exact same equation that marital strife follows. If looking for a simplistic explanation, then he would identify extreme misunderstandings, biases, as causing most of the worlds problems. People, especially in groups, get wrapped up in misconceptions to the point where their anger and the anger of a group simply takes over and people behave in ways that cannot be explained otherwise where they abandon all of their innate human beliefs and ethics.

He is, in this way, very forgiving to the average person, no matter how caught up in violence they are. A soldier, he says is faced with the prospect of killing or being killed (PoH, 12) He identifies leaders however, as not being so innocent in rationally developing national policies of “instrumental violence” that result in the deaths of millions. And he also seeks justice and punishment for their lieutenants describing their crimes as “procedural violence.” These contrast with the more reflexive and emotional violences that occur at more common levels. (PoH, 18)

He believes, like Rogers, that there is a good force in people that makes them sociable, but he calls it an “innate program” rather than the more soulful concept of self. It “reinforces sociable behavior.” Optimistically, the dynamics within groups that he cites for causing violence can also be very positive in enjoining groups and creating peace. The problems in aggressive or angry behavior between persons and groups that stem from close mindedness, intolerance for those who are not exactly the same, or who are not members of the same group (PoH, 144).

On a more personal level, anger can be produced by a number of causes, both seemingly reasonable and others unreasonable. Deliberate attacks of course cause anger, but perceptions of slights, or repugnance with another's behavior possibly based on social biases. (PoH, 71) Anger can be triggered by concepts of entitlement; those who are not of a certain quality cannot behave certain ways.

Interestingly enough, he views bias, positive or negative, as being equally harming. By having too high a regard for a group or society internally, there would be a tendency to view others, outsiders to the group with lower regard, thereby creating potential conflict (PoH, 144).

More on Rogers
Rogers book, On Personal Power, provides many answers to facilitating healing in the world, it reads like a friendly and lively manual for peaceful action. Unlike many, he does not shy away from the need for some to take risks in resisting their oppression. There is as he experienced much risk in creating harmony in the world. He was very effective in bringing many political forces to the table and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly thereafter.

Rogers strength was not in finding specific explanations for specific problems but creating an environment for facilitating the joining of concepts, be they right or wrong, so as to compare opposing views and to allow people to come to an understanding that he referred to as congruence when practicing individual therapy.

When discussing social solutions, Rogers brings up the idea that many of his clients have suffered from a schism between their inner selves and the self that they present to the public. They claim that their friends and families and associates knew their real selves then they would not be liked. Outside they may be sociable but inside they have bad thoughts and anti-social impulses. In laying this observation over Beck's group control descriptions, it sounds almost as if deep down, there may be a rebellion occurring against some of the unhealthy dynamics groups may have. Rogers helped his clients by showing them that they can reconcile their two selves and work for acceptance in groups while maintaining inner self dignity.

With scientific research, Beck supports many of Rogers belief's of the individual, though unintentionally. With so many problems in the world caused by belief systems and government policies where people chafe under unreasonable rules, where even the participants who are drawn into the process are not really acting out of their own beliefs, then the concept that the inner self has many of the answers is very important. Beck confirms that there is much altruism, especially in America, where individuals, as a result of their own good feelings do good for others. Beck reserves his experimental approach leaning towards Skinner's theories, where he agrees that these good feelings are solely the result of positive conditioning.

Tapping the good in people has been a spiritual quest, and the concept of self-actualization as described by Maslow seems very religious in comparison to Beck’s perspective. Maslow mentions “fate” as having a hand in contributing to the self-actualized person, but sometimes I feel he refers to the hand of God.

Communication between peoples and bridging individuals is the goal of Roger's theories facilitating large groups to create better results. People in conflict can always find paths to share their experiences, and in so doing, wash away many of the biases associated with race or gender. As soon as the individual person is discovered as the common component of the group through open communication, superficial differences become unimportant.

As in therapy, Rogers gives point by point conditions that must be met for successful progress towards openness in groups especially in international issues.

Facilitative attitudes (and skills) can help a therapist gain entry into the group
Freedom from a desire to control the outcome, and respect for the capacity of the group, and skills in releasing individual expression
Openness to all attitudes no matter how extreme or unrealistic they may seem
Acceptance of the problems experienced by the group where they are clearly defined as issues
Allowance of the freedom of choices in direction, either for the group or individuals particularly in the near future

A healthy group will result and the openness and flexibility will produce:

  • An outpouring of long suppressed feelings, in particular negative, hostile and bitter expressions
  • An acceptance and understanding of attitudes as more and more members feel free to express a range of experiences
  • Recognition for individuals' uniqueness and strength, mutual trust will develop
  • A defusing of irrational feelings as they are fully expressed and as the group the experimental knowledge of the members overlaps through welcome feedback
  • Feelings based on common experiences by group members will clarify issues and strengthen resolve
  • Growth in the self confidence of the members and confidence in the unity of the group
  • More realistic consideration of the issues with less irrationality
  • Greater mutual trust and fewer ego trips, as in the completion for leadership
  • Motion towards innovative, responsible and revolutionary steps
  • Dispersion of leadership in the group as individual members realize what specific leaderships skills they have
  • Constructive and actionable steps, where there is significant progress in changing the situation
  • Enough mutual support within the group to assure members that the group will support them even when taking steps that might be perilous

While describing good leaders and comparing them what he considers well developed people, Rogers finds some interesting differences. He finds a good manager "dependable, productive, serious, candid, someone you can lean on but not a dreamer nor an entirely autonomous person."

But describes a self actualized as one who “engages daydreams, expresses hostile feelings directly, enjoys sensuous experiences, sensuous experiences, thinks and associates to ideas in unusual ways, has unconventional thought processes, is concerned with philosophical problems, has insight into own motive s and behavior, is skilled in social techniques of imaginative play, pretending and humor values own independence and autonomy”

While these personalities seem contradictory, and a professional relationship would very likely result in friction, Rogers stresses the communication skills and the empathy of his more ideal person as augmenting the skills of a good leader.

Encouraging the good in people, not only creates a better human society, but can actually be profitable. A friend of Rogers, a social consultant for a major factory operator, was allowed to apply the humanistic approach to a series of plants while holding other plants in the stat quo as control groups. The emphasis was on building two-way communication in all directions and the fair delegation of the responsibilities of making decisions. In a word, productivity tripled. The managerial staff was reduced to twenty percent. It is not surprising that cooperation among the staff would produce such increases in output and likewise reduce the need for straw bosses, but it works against the basic concepts associated with the management.

In describing self-actualized people, Maslow developed an idea he called being values. “Self-actualizing people are, without exception, involved in a cause outside their own skin, in something outside their selves. The are devoted, working at something, something which is very precious to them -- some calling or vocation in the old sense, the priestly sense" (Farther Reaches, 43).

A spiritual guidance in groups within groups that creates a self actualizing drive was described by Ruth Benedict when she used the term synergy to describe the tendency for groups to follow a beneficial path. In a high synergy society, the members engage in supportive behaviors, those who have, share, and those who share are considered wealthy for their generosity. In a low synergy environment the self-enrichment of those who already have is the primary dynamic. The have-nots work to support those who have. There are poor social conditions and the spirit of the group is harsh, where religious figures are often cruel. In higher synergy environments, spiritual symbols are much more giving; Benedict cites a card game in a secure and closely knit tribe, the players were consulting their protecting spirits for advice on playing their hands (Maslow, 201-208).

In our modern society, we may assume we are nationally here in the wealthy world but, if we are members of an unfortunate group having a hard time for economic or social rations, we don't feel our nation is so strong and healthy. As described by Benedict's synergy, we live in a mixed society, but as long as there are fundamental unfairnesses our society is not whole and its values are a sham. Certainly there is some sharing from the rich to the poor, but this may not be an indicator of high synergy so much as simply to prevent social upheaval, or a reaction to the guilt associated with depriving citizens necessary resources. Mumford in "Technics and Civilization" talks about professional sports as funneling a great deal of resources and energy into a game where winning at any cost is the goal rather than the fun and beauty of the game. Historically, nations that have been suffering from low synergy have supported sports that were violent, the Romans being most notable (Mumford, 303). Today, one sport, car racing has developed in a modern day version of chariot racing where there is a possibility of death to the drivers, much in the way gladiators fought. The man who brought greatest fame from this sport, NASCAR, was known as the terminator and was killed in accident. In watching a replay of the fateful accident, it was obvious that he was killed while trying to cause another car to crash at speeds of over two hundred miles per hour.

In the streets of the city I live car accidents are far too common, several occurring very near to my car. The cause seems to be the aggressive driving practice of driving too closely, or tail-gating. It serves no purpose except to intimidate the person in the car ahead, and, despite the thought that the car ahead might be driving too slowly, the tail-graters rarely pass it. Deaths on the highway are a considerable cause of death and economic loss. There may be a direct relationship between the aggressive racing and driving habits in the street, but a greater overall force seems to be a work. Many, if not, most members of society are pushing in an aggressive manner in a way that probably does not benefit them, and is definitely an overall detriment to the society.

Rogers describes the changes he desires as revolutionary and co-authored a book about himself with that title. He respected people who worked purely based on their own experiences and gives them credit in advance for what changes will take place in the world. He calls them the emerging persons of the quiet revolution. He gives them credit for much greater awareness that has existed in previous generations, and describes their quest for inner space through meditation. This new generation that dedicated so much energy to opposing racism and protesting the Viet Nam War, also created environmentalism. They have been newly empowered in protesting globalization by embracing communication technology and will very likely benefit from personal relationships developed with people from all over the world as part of bridging differences as Rogers did in his time.

Quoting Einstein, who said described the path to understanding the Universe as being built up purely from deduction, by no logical path, resting on sympathetic understanding of the experience of taking this path. This form of meditation can derives truths by allowing consideration and comparison between concepts and possibilities in an open and flowing consciousness. A model is internally built within the mind by comparing and constructing perceptions in the mind and, until now, only in the mind. Computer systems presently being developed by the quiet revolutionaries of the free computer culture will create the computational power to actually make all these comparisons based on a vast sea of data collected provided from all over the world.


Roz W said...

Interesting stuff John -thanks

Lisa said...

I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for the information and insight into this man.

john_van_v said...

Thank you so much, Lisa

Rogers was the man, no question. He extended psychology into international relations -- he is credited for bringing the US and USSR together ending the cold war, but died before winning the Nobel prize.

Here are my writings that pull empathy topics together: