A Way of Being

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Life is not a means to an end but an end in itself

Hi, welcome to Bookey. Today, we will unlock the book ‘A Way of Being: The Founder of The Human Potential Movement Looks Back on A Distinguished Career’.

In 1958, the American Academy of Psychology held a conference during its establishment. During the meeting, fellows organized a seminar concerning a severely mishandled case in the history of psychotherapy. This case concerned a girl named Ellen West, who was as healthy and hopeful of the future just as any other ordinary young woman before the age of twenty. At the age of twenty years old, in a lapse of romance, she got engaged to a foreigner. However, due to her father's disapproval, her engagement was canceled. As a result, she no longer trusted her own judgement and feelings as they didn’t gain the approval of her father. Later, she fell in love with a student, which, again, was objected to by her parents.

Following this, she continued to doubt her own judgement and feelings, convincing herself that it would be best to end this newly acquired relationship as soon as possible. Finally, she obeyed the will of her parents and married one of her cousins. Subsequently, Ellen completely lost confidence in herself, no longer seeing herself as a human being. She went on a crazy diet and took 60 laxative tablets a day in order to become thinner and please others. As she didn’t follow the true feelings she possessed, Ellen later developed symptoms of alienation from her inner self and tried to commit suicide. Because of this, she went to visit many psychiatrists. However, none of the physicians either treated her as a person worthy of respect or as someone who could make independent choices. The psychiatrists later diagnosed her with depression and other mental disorders. Many even proposed suicide as the only option for her to get out of her current dilemma. After receiving such confusing comments, Ellen continued to see herself as an object and no longer trusted her own judgement. In the end, she finally killed herself.

Ellen’s tragedy was caused by the fact that people around her did not give her enough respect, and that she could not listen to her inner voice. Others did not regard her as a person who could handle her own life and whose inner feelings deserved acceptance. If Ellen was capable of recognizing and being in touch with her own feelings, she would no longer base her perception of self worth on other people's values and expectations. Instead, she would have based it on her own innate reasoning and internal experiences, therefore being able to achieve positive personal change and growth.

As such, what kind of method is beneficial for individuals to achieve personal change and growth? The book ‘A Way of Being’ reveals the answer. The author of the book is Carl R. Rogers, a man well-known in the field of psychology. He is also referred to as "the father of humanistic psychology," and the pioneer and main representative of humanistic psychotherapy. Humanistic psychology emphasizes the positive value of human beings and believes that people are capable of regulating and improving themselves. The mission of humanistic therapists is to create an effective psychological atmosphere to stimulate the innate potential that exists within human beings. Through decades of research on humanistic psychology, the author created a person-centered therapy method. The intention is to help people realize and develop their inner selves while expanding their lives. Moreover, the book ‘A Way of Being’ is also Rogers’ best-selling work. The concept of psychotherapy that he put forward in the book has had a significant impact on psychology, education, management, and politics.

In today’s Bookey, we will discuss this book in the following sections:

Part one: The author’s experience of personal growth

Part two: The person-centered approach

Part three: The importance of humanizing education

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