This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry (and is titled affectionately, and I hope, appropriately, after the Fleetwood Mac song bearing the same name, to which I was listening at the time of publication).
On a train. Coming down from the mountains and remarkably unenthused about the return home. Reflecting on Carl Rogers. Nearly finished with On Becoming a Person, to which I am certain I could write a book-length response. All the feelings involved. He reiterates so much of what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, about myself experientially. His observations based on therapeutic relationships. Mine based on my interactions with the world and with myself. What, I keep wondering, would he say to those of us who are committed to giving form to our inner experiences? To verbalizing ourselves. He seems to believe there is no adequate symbol. That the depths of our inner experiences remain untranslatable. I humbly disagree (to a point, that is). And, I have every intention of translating as much of this montage of feeling into language as possible.
And, what, I ask myself, about the act of renaming clinical, or otherwise scientific, phenomena to mirror one’s inner experiences? I’ve found this is a practice I enjoy. It’s fun. An exercise in sharpening awareness of one’s feelings. In defining one’s relationship to one’s feelings. Additionally, it’s satisfying on another level. Makes me feel an enhanced degree of fondness for myself. Softer. More compassionate. Rogers says this is supposed to happen when one articulates one’s feelings in a therapeutic relationship.
A thought: to what degree do principles of Rogerian therapy apply to an individual attempting to become herself? That is, to what degree can one have a therapeutic, or therapeutic-type relationship with oneself? Which, I think, is deeper than simply fostering one’s own self-improvement. Requires intimate knowledge and acceptance of one’s feelings.
By therapy, I do not mean illness, but what might be characterized by a healthy change in the person, an increase in his flexibility, his openness, his willingness to listen. – Samuel Tenenbaum (on Carl Rogers)
A definition that makes me think this is possible for one who is inclined toward self-directed ways of being, a commitment to enhancing self-awareness, to developing the courage to face one’s true self. Though, for Rogers, all centers on unconditional positive regard within psychotherapeutic relationship. Perhaps, he’d say individuals attempting this alone would have to have this kind of acceptant relationship/need satisfaction in other spheres of life. Now, that sounds exactly like Maslow. At the end of the day, these two really aren’t very different at all. Ordered Rogers’s A Way of Being, I think, more personal and less about therapy. Perhaps more of my questions will be answered there.
Also enjoy his thoughts on the role of science in the process of becoming:
Science is not an impersonal something, but simply a person living subjectively another phase of himself. – Carl R. Rogers
Just another dimension of experience. An extension of subjectivity, not an opposition to it. Even a compliment to the poetic side of life. I see this view clearly illustrated in his examples of the role of science in psychotherapy, examining methods, efficacy of relationship, outcomes, etc. Also, makes me think of Jordan Peterson. His whole book, really, is an artful marriage of the scientific and experiential. A flexible kind of thinking that I admire. Multiple dimensions. A rare quality. I see the same in Rollo May.
Also, never realized the degree to which my initial hypothesis for The Used Life experiment was rooted in Rogers’s philosophy on human growth and potentiality: that, when left to our own devices, we will simply become more ourselves. What I set out to do. I like that he trusts people this much. I have also just realized that I trust myself this much. Same with his views on education: that an unstructured classroom approach will result in more creative, individualized learning, with a greater degree of personal involvement in the process and more authentic self-expression in group discussions. I reflect on the progression of my own thinking on becoming—on creating a more meaningful existence through a self-directed, humanistic education. And, I smile when I realize that the only reason I am currently studying both Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow so intently is because Rollo May led me to their work. May, who I discovered by reading Otto Rank, a former lover of Anaïs Nin, whose journals and essays on womanhood I began studying simply because I love to curl up with her erotica at night. That’s what I call unstructured learning. And, I dig it. Maybe Rogers is right. Maybe, I’ve ended up right where I’m supposed to be. Just because I allowed myself the freedom to do what comes naturally. If I am to rely solely on my inner experience as a gauge, I’d say, yes. Hypothesis (tentatively) accepted.