|FULL HEARTS AND EMPTY HEADS: THE PRICE OF CERTAIN RECENT PROGRAMS IN HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY|
|W. R. Coulson, Ph.D.
from an Address of October 20, 1994, at a Conference on The Nature and Tasks of
a Personalistic Psychology
Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio U.S.A.
Consider the misbehavior Jason Berry reported in his articles three and four years ago and in his book Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children. He reported it had cost the Catholic Church in America 400 million dollars in financial settlements—likely more by now. Talkshow hosts Phil Donohue and Geraldo Rivera exposed the problem on television and called it priestly pedophilia. But I think "pedophilia" is a mistaken identification. There is reason to say that most such cases betray not a mental illness called pedophilia but the influence of bad philosophy—an application of humanistic psychology if you will. In the 1960s and '70s, there developed atop this psychology a philosophy of personal development and interpersonal relationships called the human potentials movement. A recent study initiated by the Franciscans of the St. Barbara province in California yields a rough estimate that four-fifths might be the proportion of non-pedophiles—non-pedophiles-among priests who have misbehaved sexually with altar-boys, choir-boys and other children; for it has been reported by the provincial office that psychological testing labels only two of the eleven offending friars in the sex abuse scandal at St. Anthony's seminary as certifiable pedophiles.
St. Anthony's was the scandal that deserved the front-page treatment it got in The New York Times December 1, 1993. The run-over headline on page A-12 sums up the story: "Friars Sexually Molested Boys at California Seminary, Church Inquiry Says." To the credit of the Franciscans, they requested and paid for the inquiry; and their provincial superior called the findings "horrific." Thirty-four boys were said to have been molested over a 23-year period; fully one-fourth of the faculty participated in molesting boys.
We have to go back a bit to understand how Catholics were vulnerable to the lessons of human potentials philosophy. If we had been less gullible after Vatican II, we might have seen what was coming down the pike. I was at WBSI, the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, when the California Franciscans invited us to deliver to them a series of programs capturing our own version of human potentialism. It was the Rogerian-Maslovian version, named for Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, the men who with James Bugental and Rollo May (and others lesser known) had recently launched the American Association for Humanistic Psychology.
When I now suggest we should have seen what was coming, I am thinking of a letter received at WBSI from a West Coast Franciscan seminary professor in 1968. We had recently done a human potentials workshop at his school, the sort of event that Rogers later characterized by the term "the person-centered approach." The idea was to try to help friars get beyond their friarhood and students their studenthood—to turn them all into persons and all therefore equally available one to the other. This person-centered approach of Carl Rogers was a latter-day synonym for his well known client-centered psychotherapy.
Shortly after the workshop at his seminary, the friar-professor wrote that his vocation had changed direction: "I am behaving like mad, with true self blossoming all over the place. Killing me."
We took it that his tongue was in his cheek; later we realized that he spoke more truth than the WBSI staff was capable of facing. Maslow was the exception, though the severity of his judgment against the whole approach didn't emerge until his Journals were published much later.
Was the behaving-like-mad friar one of the notorious eleven child-abusers reported in The New York Times? We'll probably never know: except for two who have gone to jail, the names of the men are being kept secret, and it isn't really important to know: something was wrong with the very idea of huggy-kissy priests in the first place, something wrong with applying heavy-duty human potentials lessons to religion.
Later Carl Rogers was to describe the movement as having been "thoroughly insidious in religion." The audience to whom he said this consisted of facilitator trainees taking part in a tape-recorded discussion with him in 1976. They laughed heartily to hear the remark, but really, it wasn't funny. In an article published October 8, 1967, New York Times' reporter Richard Reeves described some of the unfunny developments he saw humanistic psychology stimulate in a religious setting. It was among Anglo-Catholics in a human potentials workshop at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco that fall.
In one "happening" a nun told of her struggles with sexual desires and an overly-considerate woman, taunted in an encounter group as "super mama," erupted for the first time in a rage against her husband. The principles are similar in most of the movement's activities. In body awareness, people may get down on the floor and roll over each other, pretending they are animals at play. In role-playing, a man may act out before a group some unpleasant behavior of his wife.
In describing to the group the unpleasantness of his wife (and earning their gratitude for being open about a private concern), the man gains one attachment and loses another. Loyalty to the group—especially its advocacy of openness—becomes more important than loyalty to the wife.
In addition to talking about religion, Carl Rogers referred to his marriage in the 1976 meeting with the facilitator trainees. To hear what he said about his wife is to hear of the destructive power of the human potentials movement. He was later to write that as she lay dying (three years after he opened up in front of the trainees), his feeling was: "I wanted to care for her, but I was not at all sure that I loved her." Confessions of this kind were offered throughout the period in which he made a real effort to put himself in a bad light with the public. The problem for the reporter who likes and respects Carl Rogers is that there is no way to reproduce his words without putting the man in the same bad light today. But it seems to be what he wanted: one of his motives, he said, was to find release from the habit of being good—also from seeming to be good. His parents had set him up to be and seem good in public. When it became clear it was at odds with the person-centered system of psychology, being good became a burden. This was his sense of things: Being good keeps me apart from people; some of the most interesting people aren't very good.
In a filmed interview he put it as follows: he wanted to be like his clients—particularly (if you look at the record) the naughty clients, naughty, that is, as his parents and other elders of the devout, family oriented Protestant tribe would have judged. In the film (called "Reflections" and previewed at the 1976 facilitator training meeting) he told interviewer Warren Bennis:
If I've had a mentor, it's been thousands of mentors, the people I've tried to help. I think I have learned from them the tremendous sense of satisfaction they feel when they move from being phony or defensive or working behind a façade into a more real type of behavior. It is so much more satisfying to be real. Put it this way: I provided the conditions which oftentimes helped them to grow in ways that I hadn't yet grown. And that's a very challenging kind of thing. It makes you think, "Why can't I do that? Why am I not that way?"
Interviewer Bennis drew out of him a main reason he wasn't "that way." It was because of his parents. They got him to do "right things"—a focus that got in the way of being real.
Rogers: I was a very good boy. I always got good grades in school. I did the right things.
Bennis: You were a good boy?
Rogers: I was a very good boy. I wasn't rebellious at all. It appalls me sometimes to think what a good boy I was.
Bennis: You were a good boy for 20 years?
Bennis: Did you know you were a good boy? Were you doing it begrudgingly, doing the good-boy work?
Rogers: One of the fascinating things about my parents' control was that it was so subtle that it did not seem oppressive. I was a good boy, but that seemed to be the way I should be. It didn't seem as though I had to be this way against my will.
Bennis: Yeh, that's neat. Marx said the sign of a truly oppressed person is when they don't know they're oppressed.
Rogers: There's a lot of truth to that.
Bennis: But how did they do it?
Rogers: We never had playing cards in our home. We rarely went to movies. Even soda pop was looked on as a little bit sinful, and drink, of course, was unspeakable. And yet I don't remember great diatribes against all that. It was just, "That's not the way we do things. Those are things that we don't go in for."
Bennis: Your family seems so unlike the kind of world you've invented.
Rogers: Yes, the kind of way I have of working with people, the nonjudgmental quality that I encourage, the attitude of intellectual and personal exploration, all of that would really be anathema to my parents and my family.
Now, it will help to keep in mind Rogers' expression, "It appalls me sometimes to think what a good boy I was"—as also Bennis' report on Marx, "The sign of a truly oppressed person is when they don't know they're oppressed." They help clarify the dynamic of abuse among the Franciscans and, in an equally telling example, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Consider the published report of Sister Mary Benjamin, IHM. Her religious vocation had been a family affair. One of 11 children of a Polish-Irish-American family, she had been gathered up in 1962 by her parents, brothers and sisters en masse and delivered to the Immaculate Heart novitiate at Monticito, California, where WBSI would later deliver the first in its of its large-scale experiments in humanistic psychology for Catholics. Upon arrival at La Casa de Maria, the life of a religious novice became "like a honeymoon" to Sr. Mary Benjamin. "I loved the early morning hours, the walk to chapel through the citrus grove in the fading starlight. We gathered in silence and gently began chanting the psalms" (p. 183). She didn't know how oppressed she was in this activity. Oppressed? Yes, for it was not by choice that she arose in the dark, marched in line to the chapel and prayed in chorus—it was what all nuns did and had done for hundreds of years. So it wasn't authentic. She wrote that following "sensitivity training, my order's first venture into the human potential movement" (p. 186), she came to believe religious life was per se oppressive. She also came to see her parents as initiators of the oppression. It was they who had habituated her to Catholic practice and belief. Nothing that followed her earliest childhood had therefore been free; it had been, rather, the expression of habit. Looking back at her upbringing, she said she had discovered "a secret desire" all along: "to rid myself of my baptism and my parentage" (p. 182). She believed her real wish all along had been to be "born a pagan with the freedom to live by my own instincts" rather than the Catholic code. Concerning this discovery, she might have borrowed from Rogers and said, "It appalls me to think what a good girl I was"—appalling her the more, actually, for not having been experienced at the time.
Good was no longer what you were given to be but what you chose to be. The choice was to be made on your own terms alone, or those of your favorite therapist-author.
Here is how it worked out at St. Anthony's seminary. For years there had been catalogues of rules in friaries. Some of the rules were designed to make the exchange of intimacies unlikely. That the rules were of long standing made them, eo ipso, invalid from a human potentials perspective. "Childish" and "rule-bound" is what Rogers, expressing this judgment, had called Catholic institutional life. He said this in a 1967 review of Father James J. Kavanaugh's A Modern Priest Looks at His Outdated Church.
The protective Catholic framework got set aside at St. Anthony's. It seems to have been seen as a form of oppression. Among the unspoken correlaries of the discarding of old-time rules were that everybody could now have sex. Or if they didn't feel like having sex, at least they could practice acceptance, understanding, and permissiveness about other people having sex. According to the investigative report of the situation at St. Anthony's, the board of inquiry was assured that no student was ever allowed into the private rooms of the friars. But time and again in the course of the investigation, we learned that the opposite of this was actually true. Doors and rules were intended as physical and psychological barriers. But they were ignored. The perpetrators often brought students into their private rooms to molest them there. One offender had taken a private room in a house next to the seminary. There he had children in his room overnight. The board of inquiry learned that on several occasions, two young boys who were not seminarians, were brought by him to the table occupied by the friars in the refectory. They were there for dinner and they were there for breakfast the next morning.
That is what the independent board of inquiry learned. Rules were for breaking. Catholic rules were for Catholics to break. To break them established that one had grasped the revised, more psychological concept of goodness; it was measured by how real, non-childish, and independent of external authority one was. Those who didn't break the rules personally practiced nonjudgmentalism while others broke them, romancing town boys in the refectory.
Nonjudgmentalism was the recommendation of Client-Centered Therapy. Rogers authored the book. Thomas Gordon contributed a chapter which offered a formula to supervisors who would withhold supervision for the sake of organizational therapy. Gordon, who had been Rogers' student at Ohio State in the '40s and his faculty associate at Chicago in the '50s, put the formula as a question about "acceptance, understanding, and permissiveness." He wrote:
Staff members carrying on therapy at the Counseling Center at the University of Chicago have persistently raised the question whether such factors as acceptance, understanding, and permissiveness would have effects equally therapeutic for groups as for individuals. Would it be feasible to try a therapeutic approach in situations outside of the clinic office? What would be the effect upon a group if its supervisor tried consciously to create and accepting atmosphere in which its members could work? (1951, p. 320).
Gordon's questions became a proposal; eventually the proposal became a method, marketed as Leader Effectiveness Training. Rogers got behind it under the rubric of "therapy-for-normals," a theme that occupied the rest of his life. When the Rogerian research team moved from Chicago to the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute in 1958, Rogers was successful in soliciting a grant from the National Institute on Mental Health (though the subsequent test of therapy-for-normals was unsuccessful at Wisconsin). In 1964, he and a smaller research team left the Midwest for San Diego. The focus of research on therapy-for-normals became group-work, with funding now provided ad hoc by agencies and institutions whose staff members were willing to volunteer for treatment. The first such institutional arrangement was made in 1965 following the Watts riots. It entailed group-work for staff of the Catholic Welfare Bureau of Los Angeles. A series of workshops for other Catholic institutions followed, all of them in their own way originating in Thomas Gordon's questions of 1951, "Would it be feasible to try a therapeutic approach in situations outside of the clinic office? What would be the effect upon a group if its supervisor tried consciously to create an accepting atmosphere in which its members could work?"
The answer at St. Anthony's is evident now: the group wouldn't get supervised. Eventually there could be the scandal of sex abuse.
Eventually there could also be scandal close to home. Recall that Rogers talked about his wife in front of the facilitator trainees in 1976. She had become ill four years earlier. Recall that he wrote later that he wasn't sure he loved her any more. Why didn't he know if he loved her any more? I think he'd been in too many groups like the session with the trainees, where the demand had been to "get real" and thus, among other things, to account for his life, including his marriage.
Finally he couldn't give account. Married since 1924, Carl and Helen Rogers had become part of one another. There was no way to explain. To remain married a half century was an anomaly among modern American mental health specialists. Perhaps, it was thought, his enduring marriage meant he hadn't really gotten aboard "the group process," with its emphasis on "change." Pressed too often to account for fidelity to a woman whose invalidism would be judged as holding him back, he became "not at all sure that I loved her."
He'd joined the human potentials movement. To put it another way, he'd paid the Polanyian Penalty. Scientist-philosopher Michael Polanyi and his wife Magda had been acquaintances of Carl and Helen Rogers. In Personal Knowledge in 1958 Polanyi had written of the great cost of detatchment from commitments:
...man stands rooted in his calling under a firmament of truth and greatness. Its teachings are the idiom of his thought: the voice by which he commands himself to satisfy his intellectual standards. Its commands harness his powers to the exercise of his responsibilities. It binds him to abiding purposes, and grants him power and freedom to defend them.
And we can establish it now as a matter of logic that man has no other power than this.
He is strong, noble and wonderful so long as he fears the voices of this firmament; but he dissolves their power over himself and his own powers gained through obeying them, if he turns back and examines what he respects in a detached manner. Then law is no more than what the courts will decide, art but an emollient of nerves, morality but a convention, tradition but an inertia, God but a psychological necessity. Then man dominates a world in which he himself does not exist. For with his obligations he has lost his voice and his hope, and been left behind meaningless to himself.
Detach himself Rogers did. He volunteered the following to the 1976 audience of trainees:
A situation that I'm in is very difficult for me. It is that [because of] my wife's illness...she's dropped...her own interests and isn't physically able to carry out many of the things that we used to do together; and so her love becomes a much more clinging love. And I've had to really work through for myself: where does this stop? I feel I have got to live my life; I've got to be my own person if I'm to be of any help to her—that if I simply said, "All right, you need me so much, I'll stay with you all the time; I'll sacrifice my life to take care of you," that would probably destroy both of us—because if I give up my life or my personhood to take care of her, then I'm going to become bitter, I'm going to become angry inside at what I've given up, I'm not going to want to be with her—it would be out of a sense of duty—and that isn't the kind of relationship I want, it isn't the kind of relationship she would appreciate either, though she might think now that she would. And so I feel I've got to be my own person and live my own life, and in that way I'll be much more free to be a person with her and be caring for her—and really care for her—when I am with her.
His wife had never been unwilling to sacrifice her "personhood" when necessary for his sake. I would hesitate to mention this comparison (and other problems I am on a path to reveal) but for the fact that, as I said before, Rogers knew he was in a bad light and didn't care. To get comfortable in a bad light was one of the developments of the human potentials movement that Rogers learned about first hand and wanted revealed. Thus, the tape recordings of 1976 have him saying that, any more, "I really don't give a damn what anybody thinks about what I do, and that's a very releasing feeling."
It is hard to fathom how it was releasing. The record as a whole reveals that he was in a bad place throughout much of his California period; the bad light it puts him in to describe that era now is a reflection of the place. By bad place I mean wrong place, a place where no one should go, a place for doing one's own thing when what one should be doing is what one has promised to do. To compare how Helen Rogers behaved when her husband needed her support in 1949, and how he behaved 25 years later when she needed his, is to compare, as it were, the old church in America with the new. Catholics, traditionally, were less focused on fulfilling their needs as individuals than attuned to accepting their commitments. They were like Helen Rogers. Her husband's autobiography of 1967 describes the 1949 episode that later came to be known as "our runaway trip":
There was a deeply disturbed client...with whom I had worked at Ohio State, who later moved to the Chicago area and renewed her therapeutic contacts with me. I see now that I handled her badly, vacillating between being warm and real with her, and then being more "professional" and aloof when the depth of her psychotic disturbance threatened me. This brought about the most intense hostility on her part (along with a dependence and love) which completely pierced my defenses....
Rogers told friends that the woman "began to take up a bigger and bigger part of my therapy time....She would sometimes appear on our doorstep." He added, "I somehow gave up my self in the relationship."
The efforts of colleagues at the University of Chicago Counseling Center to help him were of little avail. He said, "Gradually I realized I was on the edge of a complete breakdown myself and then suddenly this feeling became very urgent. I had to escape." So, he said, "I went home and told Helen that I must get away, at once. We were on the road within an hour and stayed away two or three months on what we can now calmly refer to as our 'runaway trip'."
Most important, it seems to me, was the selflessness of his wife and his consequent assurance that, when he needed it, she existed only for him. It was "I," "I," "I," "I," "I," then "we": "I realized," "I was on the edge," "I had to escape," "I went home," "I must get away." This famous I—recently the president of the American Psychological Association and winner of all kinds of awards—was quite helpless. Whom did he tell? No longer his therapists: for all their training, none of the psychologists and consulting psychiatrists at the famous university clinic had been able to help. It was to his wife that he said, "I must get away, at once." "Then we shall," said Helen. "I," "we"—it was all the same to her.
Helen Rogers described the trip: "We finally came to roost at our hideaway at Seneca Lake and spent a month roughing it in our cabin in the cold temperatures of May in New York State. There were periods of real despair which we weathered together....We roamed the hills and I taught him all I could about painting. We spent many hours enjoying and exploring and painting the countryside."
Her husband added a postscript: "...throughout this whole period Helen was certain this state of mind would pass away, that I was not insane, and showed in every way how much she cared. Wow! That's the only way I can express my gratitude. That's what I mean when I say she has stood by me in critical periods."
When it was his turn to stand by, he said, "I feel have got to live my life; I've got to be my own person."
But let's go back to Richard Reeves' New York Times' report of a man speaking ill of his wife at a church workshop in San Francisco. The exercise Reeves saw—people rolling over each other in the cathedral hall, "pretending they are animals at play"—is part and parcel of the wife's dismissal. With the censor out of the way, the man is free to play animal games with strangers (and God knows what next). A related image is found in news reports coming out of Santa Barbara, where seminary faculty had freed themselves of supervision. A Santa Barbara News-Press article of December 5, 1993, for example, describes a faculty-student camping trip. An amorous teacher, responding appropriately to non-supervision, one supposes, climbed out of his sleeping bag to lie atop a boy in the middle of the night: "The frightened boy," the paper reported, "pretended to sleep. He rolled over and dislodged the aroused friar. The boy stayed awake all night out of fear. Thinking no one would believe him, he remained silent about the incident."
Pope St. Leo the Great said this in the fifth century: "What makes it impossible to stay silent is precisely what makes it almost impossible to speak."
Speak we must. The truth is that there has been a lot of misbehavior by ministers of many different denominations in America (not just Catholics), misbehavior which cannot be traced, by any means, solely to a dictionary of abnormal psychology. Certain lines of abnormal theorizing in the 1950s, '60s and '70s—Maslovian-Rogerian theorizing, I am saying—are implicated in the misconduct. As the woman at Grace Episcopal Cathedral was goaded into erupting at her husband for the first time, so too were some of the Franciscans—and the Jesuits and the Immaculate Hearts and the Sisters of Mercy, the Maryknollers and more—goaded into erupting at Holy Mother Church. "There, there, doesn't that feel better?" So facilitators were known to say. And maybe it did feel better. But self-expression became the norm, and self-containment got put on the back burner.
Martin Buber said this: "Religions are mansions into which the spirit of man is fit, that it might not break forth and burst open its world."
Worlds burst open in the wake of human potentialism. Earlier generations of Franciscans might have been "repressed." But at least they didn't make a vocation of rolling over high school boys in the middle of the night.
Howard Kirschenbaum and Valerie Land Henderson, who edited The Carl Rogers Reader in 1989, have pointed out that Rogers wanted to make of his personal life in California a case study. They write that "As Rogers began to emphasize the importance of the congruent therapist, teacher, or professional in all helping relationships, this led naturally to his wanting to be as personal and authentic as possible in his own professional communication." He developed a popular talk featuring the following ideas: "I want to be real" and "I want to encounter realness in others." He gave the talk widely, including to Congressional staff in Washington.
Being real, for Carl Rogers personally, developed along the lines of the present report: with some backing and filling, an ambitious, responsible, straight-shooting Midwestern social scientist became "a person" and no longer "gave a damn" what anyone thought. He sketched this on tape in the same session in which he talked with trainees about his disappointment with his wife, and he allowed the report to be widely circulated. To a young German, who spoke about wanting to be less attentive to her mother, he was heard to say on the tape,
I responded particularly to the part where you said that you'd have to take care of yourself because that's been a lesson that's been very hard for me to learn. [In a recent] workshop, I was not in very good shape, either psychologically or physically when I went there, and I realized, "I must take care of myself." And for the first time in my life, I did. Ever since I was thirty, I suppose, I've always been in charge of things, and I'm a conscientious person and I feel responsible for them, so I feel responsible for what's going on. Even though I trust the group and all that, yet there's some inner feeling of "Yeah, but I'm responsible." And this time, for the first time, I could say, "I'm going to take care of myself first. I've got to be a person or I can't really be any good to the workshop." And so I really did take good care of myself. I skipped meetings when ordinarily I would have felt, "Oh, I should be there." I skipped staff meetings, which were sacrosanct. Then I found that, as a result, I was much more free in being myself with the workshop group.
It was hard for him not to make a case for irresponsibility—irresponsibility, that is, as a responsible act. He wanted to convince people (not least himself) that a Carl Rogers workshop goes better with an irresponsible Carl Rogers. In other words, he wanted irresponsible behavior to be seen as moral.
His ultimate goal, though, was not to explain himself but to stand at last naked and unjustified. When pieced together, the report becomes not altogether wholesome, but Rogers thought it needed telling, which is one reason, as his biographers say, that "In his last twenty years, he almost always began his books, essays, or speeches in a personal vein."
Here was one of his motives. Rightly honored by the American Psychological Association as a preeminent experimentalist, he wanted the long-term pattern of experimental results made clear. If he wanted to say how he fit into the pattern personally, it's because he had been such an effective, and eventually troubled, advocate of a dubious proposition. The proposition of course was therapy-for-normals. The tragedy includes that it was a program into which his children were drawn as well, most publicly daughter Natalie, who applied it to her marriage and wrote a sad-angry book about the outcomes. Son David, a prominent medical educator, also got involved and wrote articles applying his father's theories to medical practice; like his sister, his own "full share of marital difficulties" eventuated, as noted in Becoming Partners, Carl Rogers' book on "marriage and its alternatives."
In Carl Rogers on Personal Power, the author described an encounter that came up in the course of his personal program of therapy-for-normals. It involved him with a client whom he described as "Michele, an attractive woman in her late thirties. She is lonely and both wants and fears closeness with a man. She finds this conflict unbearably present here at the workshop."
The workshop took place in the summer of 1975 and was entitled "A Person-Centered Approach: The Process of Individual Growth and Its Social Implications." Rogers was the leading light, as at all the person-centered workshops, and he also facilitated the encounter group of fifteen participants to which Michele was randomly assigned. In the second session,
I found myself thinking about Michele and the painful tug of war within her. I felt a very strong impulse to hug her. This set off a dialogue within me, my mind being full of reasons why I should do no such thing. "Isn't sexual attraction one reason you want to embrace her? What makes you think she would accept it when her greatest fear is of closeness? This is only the second meeting of the group and it would seem by some (and perhaps correctly) as a ridiculous 'Touchie-feelie' thing. She hasn't indicated any desire for anything of that sort, so forget the whole stupid impulse!" And then I found myself saying to her (in a somewhat cowardly and indirect expression of what I was feeling): "Michele, if I should tell you I'd like to give you a good hug, what would you say?" To my astonishment, she quickly replied, I'd love it." So we stood up and gave each other a strong, close embrace in the middle of the circle. We returned to our places, I feeling definitely embarrassed, but somehow pleased that I had been able to follow an inner feeling, whether right or wrong.
(Maslow, when he was revising his work before his death, referred to the idea of following an inner feeling whether right or wrong as "the mystique of the sacred impulse," in which "controls, editing, critique of all kinds are evil, bourgeois, capitalistic, etc." Some of his early ideas—as in the first edition of Motivation and Personality—might support the idea of following an inner feeling whether right or wrong. But he'd learned something; he put it this way: "it occurred to me that my unconscious was not the boss. My impulse is not sacred and irrefutable.")
Rogers' description of the encounter with Michele continued. Having acted on his impulse to deliver a hug, he said:
I was bowled over by her quiet statement, almost an aside: "Maybe I won't fly home tomorrow after all." I could scarcely believe that my intuitive impulse, so scorned by my intellect, had been so much on target. I certainly could not have dreamed that I was acting out, in myself, what was to be a major learning for the whole community that intimacy is safe.
But it wasn't. Carl and Helen Rogers had been married 50 years at the time of this encounter. In the 53rd year of their marriage he put the report on Michele before the public. It was the second such episode that had been published. In 1967 he'd made a film of a sixteen-hour encounter workshop. Called "Journey into Self," the edited version was submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and won an Academy Award for best short documentary of 1968. Toward the end of the film, a certain exchange, problematic from an ethical perspective, was recorded. It took place between Rogers and a young woman, Roz, a glamorous Eurasian bride, the wife of a Naval officer stationed in San Diego, who had volunteered for the filming. In the final session of the group she said to the 65-year-old facilitator,
Carl, I don't mean to make your position right now more difficult for you. The way I love you is not as Carl Rogers and all your prestige, because I don't know that much about it but you have responded so warmly to me and you have given me love. I think when I walk away from here I know that you will be a part of me and I'll always remember you and the experience.
Rogers: There is something very warm and very human on the part of both of us. I felt needed and I felt useful and real and a lot more expressive. I was brought up in the kind of background a lot of you have been brought up in: you don't touch anybody and so forth. And I just hugged you.
Richard Farson, who was Rogers' co-facilitator for the film, said, "And you loved her."
Rogers: You bet I did.
Roz: And I loved you. And I love you, not just for the day.
Rogers: So do I. I love you. A few years ago I couldn't have said that in a group or certainly not to a good looking young gal like you. I could not have.
And the camera shows him brushing away a tear.
Helen Rogers saw the preview showing of "Journey into Self." I cannot but think she asked herself, "What's going on?"
She became an invalid in 1972 and died two years after the publication of the Michele episode. My wife and I had known her since 1963 and recognized her for a strong woman. (Privately, Carl Rogers' graduate students at the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute referred to her with affection as Big Mama; we imagined her lifting up her husband when he came home from a hard day at the clinic and placing him gently in his rocking chair with a drink and the evening paper.)
As it turned out, Carl would live eight years beyond Helen. Perhaps she didn't care to hold on. Daughter Natalie sees her as having felt not only an invalid but invalidated.
For her part, Natalie may well have wanted to even the score. She herself adopted the doctrine that intimacy outside marriage is safe—leaving her family in the name of growth or empowerment. That is to say, she left them in the name of the same process her father's famous 1961 book had called becoming a person.
One wasn't supposed to be a wife and mother, a husband and father, a priest or nun or brother. One was supposed to become a person. The movement called for those who would grow to follow the path of becoming open and real.
In the name of this process, a year after her mother's death, Natalie published excerpts from the private notes and journals in which she'd been challenging the worldview of her parents' generation since attending Brandeis. Before Helen died, Natalie wrote a letter of rebuke to her. But she never sent it. She excerpted it in Emerging Woman:
I see you as having given up your interests and needs to create an environment of support for your husband's career and his fame. That has angered and frightened me. I believe you are worth putting yourself first. I am disappointed that you did not make a claim for yourself and your interests when your children left home! You continually put your husband's profession first. Between age forty and sixty you missed an opportunity to become more fully you—more independent. Mother, I see you as having held in your resentments and angers for years! I see those resentments ooozing into your sore joints, your aching body. The scars on your milky white torso, the swelling of your joints, the bone marrow that won't manufacture red cells. I am sensing your pain as repressed rage. Unfortunately, if the expression of rage becomes one's thing, there may be no end to it, just as there may be no end to the faux intimacy of weekend workshops, whether rolling over people to simulate animals at play or delivering a strong, close embrace to a lonely young woman in the middle of the group. To have taught that feelings will substitute for principles in the New Age is to have created endless problems for our society, our children, and ourselves.
Carl Rogers knew this might happen. Here is how he illustrated the contrast between the Protestant, fundamental upbringing his parents provided him and his five siblings, and his own later, full-hearted system of human development: "I think of my mother....If she had problems, well, she didn't know of anything that scrubbing a few floors wouldn't help. That was her answer to psychological difficulties. So that all of the things that I have developed are really the antithesis of the kind of climate in which I grew up." And here is how Garry Shirts, a colleague at WBSI, remembered what it was like among the staff when Rogers and Maslow were in residence at WBSI, consulting with one another on the philosophy of science: "People cried and you shared your feelings with them and tried to be closer." Neither Rogers nor Maslow was intellectually impaired; neither man found much value, personally, in spending time in tears. But each developed theories of optimum human functioning that led to the imposition of this emotionality on others—and therefore led to their impairment: full hearts and empty heads.
Maslow and Rogers, we can say, did more to introduce the human potentials movement to decent people than anyone else. They were decent men themselves, who drew off one another's work. As carriers of themes from humanistic psychology into everyday life, they were without peer. They came to popular attention in the 1960s, Maslow with a book titled Toward a Psychology of Being (1962) and Rogers with On Becoming a Person (1961). In education, their work led to a distinctively American turning point, which today affects not only America but the world. It has to do with the ideal of universal self-actualization. It is evident how much integrity has been lost to education in the Western world because of the overly psychological influence of this ideal. In some countries—England and America quickly come to mind—education, even in graduate-school departments of social science—has become like a virtually endless series of discussion circles or amateur group psychotherapy sessions.
In 1961, Maslow spent seven months in the San Diego area of Southern California, on a visiting fellowship at WBSI. Rogers was not yet on the staff but was on the board of trustees; meeting some of Rogers students and followers, Maslow wrote in his journals that he was less than impressed. Sigmund Koch, editor of a scholarly textbook series, Psychology: A Study of a Science, was in residence at WBSI at the time; Maslow wrote of a "pleasant rapprochement with Sigmund Koch. Brilliant man. Others here are not brilliant."
What Maslow observed at WBSI was not unlike what he'd begun to see among his psychology students at Brandeis, a progressive university in Masachusetts, operated primarily by and for Jews.
Developments at Brandeis troubled him. He'd grown up with what he called "my Jewish heritage of libraries and books." But he found that many of his students, Jews like him, were being denied the same heritage. The problem was not independent of the theory of universal self-actualization. His students didn't think they needed to bother with the hard work of learning. In a conference on counseling held at the University of Florida in 1961, he said, "Some of my students read a paper or two on self-actualization, and then have a kind of sudden conversion experience, and on Thursday at two o'clock, they decide they're going to be self-actualized as of that moment. Then, I find I've let loose in the world people who have jumped to the goal too quickly." So Maslow realized there were major problems with the ideal he called self-actualization. Visiting WBSI again in the summer of 1962, he wrote as follows: "My motivation theory was published 20 years ago, and in all that time nobody repeated it, or tested it, or really analyzed it or criticized it. They just used it, swallowed it whole. " This left Maslow impaired along with his followers; for in dealing with his students, he wrote,
I feel ineffective, not well used, not using my full power. It's as if I took a job in a chewing-gum factory....What am I being paid for? Listening to them? I might as well be a chemist then. My knowledge and experience are wasted....I'm doing therapeutic work, not teaching psychology.
Maslow's journals didn't see print until 1979, nine years after his death. By then, much energy, secular and religious (not excluding among the Catholics), and no small amount of money, had been invested in failed attempts to make of self-actualization a universal reality as well as a universal ideal.
Maslow penned his comments about working in a chewing-gum factory in October 1968, about 20 months before his death. In 1969 he wrote an exasperated review of Turning On by journalist Rasa Gustaitis. The book reported on her experiences at WBSI, Esalen Institute, and other centers of the burgeoning human potentials movement. She'd had a contract to do a book for Macmillan called Turning On Without Drugs, but one of the first things she did after getting involved with the movement was to try drugs. So the book had to come out with a different title. In reading the book, Maslow said it struck him that everything and everybody she admired added up the way of life of psychopaths—living only in the here-now, not thinking also of past and future and of the world in which the here-now is placed, of being impulsive and admiring any impulse or whim or words and the acting on it, of a kind of contempt of the straight and square, putting them on and panhandling from them, of having shifting, fluctuating, transient, inconsistent interpersonal relationships, sexual or non-sexual, of being unpredictable, unreliable, without loyalties (stealing from each other), "expression-is-all" and totally without controls, even of human [excrement], of dirt, of sores, garbage, etc., of implied irresponsibility to their children (all of these attitudes = lousy child care = lousy wife care). My vague impression is that this is much more a male wish-fulfillment than female. The male fantasy is of unlimited [sex] without responsibility of any kind to woman or child, a modern version of the older "stag" fantasy—fool 'em, f-'em, and forget 'em. Women and children get the short end of things here, as I remember discussing with X, who yearned for continuity, a home, and a child instead of [having sex with] some transient male every once in a while, which she didn't even enjoy....
Much of what he complains of later came to pass within a wide circle of American youth, not just along the growth center circuit. By then, Abe Maslow was dead and without voice; his criticisms of transient sex and lousy child care wouldn't see print until the publication of his Journals in 1979. By that time, Carl Rogers, relatively unchallenged, had written a string of articles, chapters and books which amounted to a defense of the transient sex and lousy child going on (among other places) at his daughter's apartment (as she later wrote). One example from this string of defensive writings is the book Becoming Partners, privately described by the author as a salvage job. What had to be salvaged included daughter Natalie's reputation. Transient sex and lousy child care were recast as being on the leading edge of social change, a manifestation of what he called "the person of tomorrow." Rogers wrapped up the book with the following appeal for what he called the freedom to be experimental:
It fascinates me that as I look over the list of names of the people who have so honestly filled this book with themselves, the great majority of them have, in their struggles for a better partnership, engaged—either in the past or present—in practices which federal, state, or local laws would class as illegal. To give them their old-fashioned names, "living in sin," "committing adultery," "lewd and lascivious conduct," "fornication," "homosexuality," "ingesting illegal drugs, "even "soliciting"—these have all been present in these pages, though when they are actions engaged in by individuals struggling to find a better pattern of partnerships, the old-fashioned names are, frankly, ridiculous.
So perhaps one thing we as a culture might do which would preserve this enormously valuable laboratory, these pioneering ventures into new relationship space, would be to relieve them of the ever-present shadow of moral reproach and criminal action.
If only we dared to say, "We will not interfere," this would be an enormous step forward in facing reality.
Related developments were seen in the incursion into the work of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was called the Educational Innovation Project. It began at the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute and transferred with Rogers and his research team to the new Center for Studies of the Person in 1969. The sisters, 560 in number at the peak of project activity, ran a system of 60 schools, including a college. It did not survive the project. Also, many of the nuns left the Church. Withal, the impairment that emerged among the nuns, their lay faculty associates and their students was similar to what Maslow had already observed at Brandeis University and what Rasa Gustaitis had experienced at Esalen, WBSI and elsewhere.
Immaculate Heart College was the nuns' flagship school. It ceased to exist. Said a mother, pulling her daughter out, "She can lose her faith for free at the state college." What went wrong—call it the emptying of heads—is illustrated in the case of a professor of literature at the college who attended one of the encounter weekends as part of the Educational Innovation Project and afterward redesigned all her courses. She wrote to the WBSI team to say,
My classroom behavior is radically different now. I have been able to confess anxiety to my classes and consequently feel more comfortable in the classroom than ever before. I invited the girls to call me by my first name, and after a couple of weeks they are doing so. This allows for a lot of free exchange. I am not giving grades and I am not even giving exams. They are writing their own questions—the ones that are meaningful to them. Then they are discussing them.
It's what I mean by the emptying of heads. A student of Immaculate Heart College wrote that
The whole idea of sensitivity groups sounded beautiful to me, both when reading Dr. Rogers' paper on self-directed change and at the talk today. However, in actual practice, something doesn't seem to be quite right about it. A lot of times I've heard that faculty felt they were being forced in these groups to say things they didn't want to say; I myself feel very uncomfortable about being shut in with people who break down and say things I feel I shouldn't have heard. I think it creates a kind of embarrassment, which would seem to be a hindrance in relationships rather than a help. Still, I do feel that I gained a lot of insight into other people's behavior (pp. 55-56).
Another student wrote that "I felt at a loss today in that encounter group: very naked, as though everyone knows too much about me" (p. 59).
A third student wrote, "I think you've got a goodly dangerous thing going and it is very necessary. It's like taking the risk of being ripped up in order to grow. I cannot foresee the end results. I think it is more important that there is life in the 'Now.' I want to thank you" (p. 57).
Were the faculty literally forced—by Carl Rogers!—"to say things they didn't want to say"? It would be surprising. Descriptions of his clinical approach always picked up on the permissiveness. But if we put ourselves in Michele's shoes when she was offered a celebrity hug, we can see how the faculty might have felt pressured. How do you turn down a famously good man? Maybe in the moment, they wanted to do what they guessed he wanted them to do; maybe they were too polite not to; or maybe they thought he was needy—who knows? In any case, they provided what was wanted. Rogers wrote a field report that reveals a process that was probably experienced by the faculty as force, even though, by and large, they went along with it. The report concerned a session for faculty members and parish priests of one of the Immaculate Heart elementary schools:
In the final meeting, Sunday night, Joann was the first major focus. One of the priests in the group confronted her with some of her lack of feeling. The group all chimed in on this. It was fantastic to watch the slippery and elusive way she could avoid ever expressing herself or any of her feelings, always focusing either on intellectual things or on some other members of the group. As the confrontation became more and more direct, she said she just didn't know what was being asked of her. Finally, however, she admitted to being griped at many of the things which the principal does and particularly at her emotionality. She expressed her positive feeling for the priest, though she felt she had to remain aloof, "because of my position." She resented some of the things that Millie said to her. She interacted in a real and emotional way with my co-facilitator, and finally she wept a bit, became more feelingful, not too quickly defensive in her reactions. Several members of the group, but particularly the principal, practically cheered when she expressed some of her feelings. They had felt that she was so cool and aloof.
One of the members had brought a bottle of bourbon. It was broken out at this time and there were very affectionate—and some critical—reactions to each other, very spontaneously shared, meaningful and warm.
To use the college student's expression, such is the life of "being ripped up in order to grow"; such is the process as it is often called, the process of first resisting the expression of feelings, then yielding, and finally of being applauded for having grown.
I wish to build the balance of my remarks around what the Immaculate Heart College student called "end results" of the process and said she couldn't foresee. My focus will be the autobiographical case study of life in the Now provided by Natalie: Carl and Helen's daughter. It is found in Emerging Woman. In that book, written between 1975 and 1980, she reported on tragic developments which followed graduate studies in humanistic psychology—interestingly enough, with Abraham Maslow (1958-60), whom she describes as her mentor at Brandeis. She enrolled toward the end of Maslow's expansive phase, 1958-60. In his expansiveness he wasn't yet fully prepared to appreciate, for example, why X, who had sex with transient males, wouldn't even enjoy it. Leaders of the college student generation of that era had begun to favor liberation (some of them citing Maslow's writings for support), but within a decade, Maslow was ready to ask this question in his journals: "Who should teach whom? Youngsters teach the elders, or vice versa? It got me in a conflict about my education theory. I've been in continuous conflict for a long time over this, over Esalen-type, orgiastic, Dionysian-type education." That was late in his career, 1968, just two years before his death. But earlier, during Natalie's term as a student, he was more or less still in his Esalen-orgiastic-Dionysian period. Gradually, the results began to come in, results that included what was happening to the daughter of his colleague. That development helped turn him around.
Here is what happened to Natalie. When she enrolled at Brandeis, she was Natalie Fuchs, the wife of a faculty colleague of Maslow, Professor Lawrence H. Fuchs. He held a Harvard Ph.D. in American Government and taught courses in political science. In Emerging Woman, the wife described how things were in the early years of the marriage:
When I look at our photo album I see pictures of a loving honeymoon in Europe with our tiny English car, hikes and picnics with the kids, birthday celebrations and travels. There is warmth in our faces, radiance and laughter in the children. Together. As many hours of as many days as possible, together. We shared our lives focusing on the world and the children. Bedtime stories, Saturday walks, family art projects on Sundays. Together we build a nest, a house out of which each of us could fly, only to return to its safety and warmth.
That is how it was before she got involved in humanistic psychology.
Natalie's father and three colleagues were team-teaching a graduate course in the summer of 1968 when he broke down and cried in front of the class. One of the students later wrote a note to the course coordinator,
My immediate response was a feeling of awkwardness in not knowing what to do to help him regain his composure. I expected one of Carl's colleagues to distract the group from what I was sure was the "old man's" momentary loss of control. Nothing of the sort happened. That incident got my rapt attention. I was to return to it many times in the next few weeks.
Why didn't the team come to the senior colleague's rescue? Because they were therapists. Therapists value tears. They had gotten what the course may well have been about.
Only later were this student and others able to learn what had made the professor cry: the story became public in 1980 when Emerging Woman appeared. And although Carl Rogers' closest associates knew at the time, more or less, the personal trauma that had reduced him to tears, they were no less shocked than anyone else when Natalie's book told openly what she believed she had achieved. In careful detail did the book describe a woman abandoning her children, abandoning her marriage, pursuing other women's husbands, and rebuking a protesting wife in humanistic language. Here is an example of what the breakup with her husband and children permitted her to seek:
I spent two very important weeks with a man I was growing to love. He was a competent, independent, adventurous person who knew something about sharing his feelings. Together we were exploring the out-of-this-world consciousness and transcendence through sensuality and sexuality. Complicating matters was the fact that this man was married. My old fears of being abandoned if the wife found out returned. He promised that our togetherness would not stop if she discovered the truth. We both wanted a non-monogamous relationship and wondered how jealous we would feel if another sexual partner came into the picture. Our relationship was exciting and meaningful. So how is it that as I was feeling very high on this love, I let another love into my life? It seemed very natural to me. There is something about living and loving intensely that attracts other people.
Into my life comes a wild, free-spirited, rebellious, tender, sinuous creature. I had simple, pure love to give and an openness to receive. This second lover was also partnered. I respected his wife when she walked into my house with flashing angry eyes. She accused me of being needy and without compassion. She said, "You invaded our relationship." I said, "I responded to his overtures. I was open to loving and so was he."
Afterwards I thought , "He loves you and is loving me. Why should I not act on my own feelings? I am open to hearing yours, and relating to you, also."
I also pointed out to her that I was putting myself in a very vulnerable position. And what did the man's wife say? She said she hadn't considered the possibility her husband's mistress might be vulnerable, too—"I hadn't thought of that."
If I may interject a judgment, the world was less rich once she did think of it.
Gregory Bateson commented on similar patterns of comunication observed when teaching at a humanistic college in California in that era. His students had learned to express themselves in what he called "a horrible touchy-feely jargon." The college was an experimental program of the University of California system. In Gregory Bateson: The Legacy of a Scientist, David Lipset reports that in 1973 the famed anthropologist Bateson affiliated himself with Kresge College, the most radical of the Santa Cruz experiments in undergraduate education. Founded in 1970, with an ecological focus to "explore educational innovation through a human relations approach," the college program was inspired by the humanistic psychology of Abraham H. Maslow and Carl Rogers. In content, education tended toward crafts, meditation, utopias, gardening women's studies, politics, and the California sun (p. 280).
In June 1974, sociologists Gerald Grant and David Reisman sat in on Kresge's first graduation ceremony. They reported on the experience in their book The Perteptual Dream: Reform and Experiment in the American College:
Members of the class that had created Kresge sat in a wide circle on the wooden floors, some wearing sandals and others in blue jeans, formal gowns, or jackets and ties. Their parents and friends sat ringed about them in chairs. [Professor] Michael Kahn stepped forth in a crimson Harvard gown bearing a large seashell in his hands as though it were a holy vessel. Coming into the circle, Kahn explained that the nautilus was a creature that lived in the depths. Now holding the shell at eye level, he passed slowly before them. Anyone wishing to speak about something "deep down" would hold the shell while they spoke. [An] Asian student reached for it and went to the center of the circle with four other students. They hugged and kissed each other and then sat down again. A girl in tangerine slacks held the shell, tried to speak, could not, cried, said thank you, cried again, and sat down. One or two others held the shell silently. A boy cried and said he was sad that he would not see his friends for a long time. A heavy girl wearing a patchwork denim skirt spoke somewhat giddily, saying she was "not much into academics" ([followed by] long laughter from students). Then she leaned her head back, let loose with an ear splitting scream, shaking her arms and body as though possessed and then sat down. After a pause, students applauded her, followed more hesitantly by parents, unsure as we were whether she was parodying the college or was an expression of it. No honors were distributed; there was no valedictory; no students were singled out for achievements. Pondering this on the way out, we recalled our interview with Gregory Bateson. In his view, at Santa Cruz in general and Kresge particularly, students tended to be uninterested in striving for honors or in getting ahead. Not many in his large course on the ecology of mind were engaged with ideas. Papers done in the course were generally deplorable. It was hard to get students to take seriously what was being said or for them to take themselves seriously when writing something. It was an amiable life at Kresge. It was pleasant. It was kindly. Students spoke a "horrible touchy-feely jargon," Bateson said, but in actual behavior they were unusually kind, but that didn't help you learn very much in Latin grammar or any other serious subject.
If, on the subject of psycho-social experimentation in the '60s and '70s, one were to read only Carl Rogers' daughter—if, that is, one didn't know about the denim-skirted girl with the ear-splitting scream, or about other participants in other experiments later described by a dismayed Carl Rogers as a pattern of failure—one might be inclined to credit the daughter with authenticity. However, much of what she reports was not so much authentic but sought uniformly by youth in that era—sought as well by the would-be youth of the human potentials movement then and since. Emerging Woman reports on a mother's repeated acts of personal irresponsibility. Child abandonment, drug use, and husband stealing are the most obvious examples. But she makes clear her belief that misconduct of this kind can signify what she calls "transformation" and what she calls "personal empowerment." Human potentialists believe they are responsible only to the self.
They are probably mistaken. Human potentialism was (and remains) a social trend, a fashion. The self-directed sessions of primal screaming Natalie inflicted on herself in the name of growth are remindful of Kresge and of the standards implicit in many other reports on the human potentials movement filed in the 1960s, when the fashion was new. I mentioned that Richard Reeves covered it for The New York Times in 1967. Jane Howard wrote about it for Life magazine the next year and followed up with a book, Please Touch. The Life article was titled "Inhibitions Thrown to the Gentle Winds: A New Movement to Unlock the Potential of What People Could Be—But Aren't." It recorded events at Esalen. Esalen-style education, she wrote, called for groups of participants "to recite dreams, confess secrets, don masks, go naked or gaze with unswerving honesty into each other's eyes for a full 10 minutes." Then,
before we knew it, we were making up individual, impromptu dances. "Let what wants to happen, happen!" cried [group leader] Josie, the only real dancer among us. "Stay with the feeling! Make whatever noises you want to make, in time with your heartbeat! Flow!" Flow we did, or tried to. We swung, swooped, flailed and soared, shouting our rhythmic nonsense words. Mine sounded like a balloon caption from some paleolithic comic strip: "Froonga! FROONG-GA!"
In its unremitting explicitness about sex, Emerging Woman, Natalie's book, goes beyond the Grace Cathedral happening that Reeves wrote about and goes beyond the froonga session at Esalen. But the same territory is covered and the same theory expressed in all three—and I'll bet you know of elementary schools where they're running variations on the same approach today. What makes Emerging Woman valuable is its proud confessional nature. Laid out in intimate detail are the author's sexual conquests, her personal approach to masturbation and her personal method of ingesting LSD; from not knowing "where I was" to losing all sense of "where I was going," she tells everything. Theory was the cause; not weakness but theory.
Originally, as I have said, the theory was that of her teacher, Maslow. Here is a brief example from the Journal of Psychology. Published in 1949, the article manages to predict Natalie's idea that a justification for multiple sexual partners is that "it seems very natural." Maslow's article was titled "Our Maligned Animal Nature." Central was the following claim: "I can report empirically the healthiest persons in our culture are most (not least) pagan, most (not least) 'instinctive,' most (not least) accepting of their animal nature."
Following this implicit advice, Natalie Rogers dropped her family in order to allow her animal nature free rein. That she felt "irrational terror" in the process (as she writes) helped persuade her and her friends in the movement that she was on the right track. That's how crazy the whole thing was. She put it as follows in Emerging Woman: "It is not just being dependent that deprives us of our sense of self-direction. It is also being depended upon that gives us the excuse not to search and be for ourselves."
What had stunned her father, causing him to cry in public, was the implicit claim that authenticity demands unreliability. Carl Rogers may have wanted to be authentic himself, but seldom at the price of unreliability. In a 1966 interview published in New Directions in Client-Centered Therapy, he commented on Maslow's place in humanistic psychology. It lay near the origin of his beloved daughter's problems:
I think Maslow is probably the most visible and the most verbal and most out-in-front of the humanistic psychology trend. He embodies within himself some of the things that both stimulate me and concern me. A lot of his ideas are very exciting, and he's continually formulating new ideas. But I think he has very little concern with tying humanistic psychology to science.
In other words, Maslow had little concern at the time with tying humanistic psychology to truth telling. Actually Maslow was to agree. In a journal entry of September 29, 1969, he referenced the "anti-intellectual, anti-scientific dangers" inherent in his earlier theories of self-actualization:
Slowly crystallizing into consciousness: to cosmocize and universalize my critique of Esalen into an examination of benefits and booby-trap not only of Esalen and its whole chain, but also of the hippie culture, psychology 3 [his own "Third Force Psychology"], Synanon, NTL [National Training Labs, the sensitivity training network]—in fact the whole Eupsychian network. Much of it is a misuse of my thinking. But the misuses are all old philosophies and issues: romanticism, pro and con; anti-intellectual, anti-scientific dangers.
Maslow's thinking—as also Carl Rogers' thinking—turned out to have invited misuse. It was not only anti-intellectual and anti-scientific but anti-family. Maslow's published journals reveal how deeply he regretted this. That he was correct to have regretted it is demonstrated by Natalie Rogers' own journals of the 1960s and '70s, which she samples in Emerging Woman. We can make a sad excerpt of 1968 our conclusion. She wrote:
I can't believe this is me that I did it! I have actually pulled out of our house and away from my children. Will I ever have breakfast with them again? As I write this I sob. I feel totally cut off from who and what I am—the mother, wife, housekeeper, party-planner, birthday-party giver, counselor to children and husband .
What she really was, she said, was mother, wife, and so forth. The odd thing is that she gave up what she really was in favor of so-called self-empowerment, in favor of (as her father's book title had it) becoming a person. It makes no sense to trade the living reality of the family for a psychological variable as clinical and abstract as this personhood.
She said that in searching for an apartment she had noticed prospective landlords "look critical, like, 'Can you pay your bills?' or 'Are you abandoning your children?'"
Are you abandoning your children? Well, yes. By now there are large numbers of abandoned children, even if many appear still to live at home. Some live in material poverty, of course, but others are found in homes sufficiently affluent to have afforded trips to Esalen, WBSI, and other centers were self-fascination was taught in the '60s. And now it is also being taught in seminaries and neighborhood schools.
W. R. Coulson is a licensed psychologist. He holds doctorates from the University of Notre Dame and also from the University of California at Berkeley. In the 1960s, Dr. Coulson worked as a research associate with Drs. Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow in the study of process education and self-actualization.
(This document was received without footnote numbers.)
NY: Doubleday, 1992.
Report to Father Joseph P. Chinnici, OFM, Provincial Minister, Province of St. Barbara (P. O. Box 1065, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93102: Independent Board of Inquiry, November 22, 1993), 72 pp. plus appendices.
Joseph P. Chinnici, OFM, "Pastoral Response to Report on Sexual Abuse at St. Anthony's Seminary" (Oakland, Calif.: St. Barbara Province, November 29, 1993), p. 1. The tenor of the statement can be drawn from the conclusion: "We as Christians, as followers of St. Francis, and members of the Roman Catholic Church, are not afraid of the truth; nor are we afraid to repent and reform " (p. 2).
Rogers and Coulson were members the permanent WBSI staff; Maslow was present on occasion as a visiting fellow and consultant on the philosophy of science.
In public, Maslow tended to mute his criticisms of the excesses of humanistic psychology. Toward the end of his life, he began to write copy that he felt was "blunter, more honest, more naked, more true and correct," but it was largely confined to his journals, which were unpublished until 1979. Even at the time of writing them, he suspected his notes on humanistic excesses were "hedged, fudged, appeasing, diplomatic, polite." See Richard J. Lowry, ed., The Journals of A. H. Maslow. (Monterey, Calif.: Brooks/Cole, 1979), Maslow's entry of July 19, 1967, p. 776 (hereafter identified as Journals).
From an audiotape series, Carl Rogers at the La Jolla Program (La Jolla, Calif.: La Jolla Program, 1977).
Carl Rogers, A Way of Being (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980), p. 91.
See the autobiographical film "Reflections" (La Jolla, Calif.: Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, 1976).
See her chapter, "Revolving Doors," in Rosemary Curb and Nancy Manahan, eds., Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence (Tallahassee, Fla.: Naiad Press, 1985), pp. 181-93.
In Psychology Today, July 1967, p. 13.
"Report to Father Joseph P. Chinnici ," p. 46.
See Gordon's chapter in Rogers' Client-Centered Therapy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1951), pp. 320-83.
In the 1970s, Gordon developed parallel programs called Parent Effectiveness Training, Teacher Effectiveness Training, Leader Effectiveness Training, and Youth Effectiveness Training. All of them supplied positive answers to his questions about therapy conducted outside the clinic.
"Whether psychotherapy can be made available to the person who has no conception of it, and no conscious desire for it" was the key Rogerian research question of the late 1950s and following. This question is found (p. 57) in Rogers' article "A Study of Psychotherapeutic Change in Schizophrenics and Normals: The Design and Instrumentation," in Richard M. Steinhilber and George T. Ulett, eds., Psychiatric Research Reports, Vol. 15 (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1962), pp. 51-60.
In the the Wisconsin study, Rogers said it was soon confirmed that "very few individuals [whether schizophrenic or normal] feel any conscious need for help." This proved to be an insurmountable barrier. See Rogers, "Significant Trends in the Client-Centered Orientation," in Lawrence E. Abt and Bernard F. Riess, eds., Progress in Clinical Psychology, Vol. IV (NY: Grune & Stratton, 1960), pp. 85-100 (the quoted passage is at p. 93). Rogers' book about the project, The Therapeutic Relationship and Its Impact (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967) indicates that, by and large, the normal volunteers who stuck with the scheduled sessions—unlike those who dropped out because they were "rather fearful of interviews" (p. 66)—regressed on the therapeutic variable of "openness to experience." Contrary to expectation, that is, they became less open as each interview proceeded. Rogers wrote of this as an evident tendency of the normal subjects "to execute a defensive retreat from therapeutic engagements" (p. 83). Whether retreat was defensive or prudent was unsettled at the time, however, and in moving west, where his focus became groupwork with normals, Rogers sought more data. In 1981 (that is, with 17 years further experience), he said of therapeutic groupwork that as "the working process goes more deeply, it can bring great personal pain and distress. Nearly always the pain has to do with insights into self or with the fright caused by a change in the self-concept, or distress over changing relationships. So there are experiences of frustration, distrust, anger, envy, and despair in the group. In the individual there are the personal experiences of suffering through change, of being unable to cope with ambiguity, of fear and loneliness and self-depreciation. But both group and individual experience these sufferings as a part of a process in which they are involved and which they somehow trust, even if they could, at the moment, give no rational reason for doing so." In other words, what research subjects feared in the early '60s, they tended later to trust. Perhaps it was the difference between Wisconsin and California; or maybe (as there is reason to believe) America had become more acepting of therapy. In either case, on Rogers' 1981 analysis, we can speculate that normals who embrace the offer of therapy will be dealt a lot of pain but, against reason, will continue to seek it. In this light, the retreat from therapy-for-normals seen in Wisconsin in the early '60s was less fearful than prudent. (For the quote about pain, see "Communities," a chapter by Rogers in Alberto Villoldo and Ken Dychtwald, eds., Millennium: Glimpses into the 21st Century [Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1981], pp. 135-146; the quoted passage is at p. 140.)
She lingered for seven years and died in March 1979, in the 55th year of their marriage.
Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), p. 380.
Carl Rogers at the La Jolla Program.
From Rogers' autobiography, in Edwin G. Boring & Gardner Lindzey, eds., A History of Psychology in Autobiography, Vol. V (NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967), p. 367.
Quoted in Howard Kirschenbaum, On Becoming Carl Rogers (NY: Delacorte, 1979), p. 234.
Howard Kirschenbaum and Valerie Land Henderson, eds., The Carl Rogers Reader (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989), p. 4.
Rogers' associate Harold C. Lyon Jr. was a high official of the U. S. Department of Education in the Carter administration and later co-edited a textbook manuscript with Rogers, On Becoming a Teacher (a project subsequently aborted). Having earlier done a best-selling volume in Studies of the Person, the education textbook series Rogers helped edit, Lyon became in turn Rogers' sponsor in Washington, where he was in a position to help him with what Lyon saw as his senior colleague's great interest "in getting into the straight world with his ideas. I brought him to D.C. to lead a seminar-encounter group for Congressional staff—about 30 people. He talked about his work and then opened people up. It was funded by the Ford Foundation as part of a series. I was also on the board of Quest, a D.C. area growth center, and we arranged a lecture at George Washington University at $5.00 a person. The audience numbered more than 5,000. Rogers gave a very vulnerable talk about his life" (Lyon, personal communication, Oct. 8, 1987). One of several published examples of the vulnerable talk is the chapter on "Being in Relationship" in Rogers' Freedom to Learn: A View of What Education Might Become (Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Pub. Co., 1969), pp. 221-237. It was given first as a lecture on interpersonal relations at a convention of the American Personnel and Guidance Association, the nation's largest school counseling body. Rogers commented that "I was dumbfounded that the auditorium, holding several thousand persons, was crammed full at 8:30 in the morning (!) to hear a talk on interpersonal relationships" (in Freedom to Learn, p. 221). There has long been hunger for Rogers' ideas on personal liberation among educators, the same hunger experienced in Washington during the Jimmy Carter years. And today there are the so-called Renassiance Weekends of group encounter attended by Bill and Hillary Clinton.
From Carl Rogers at the La Jolla Program.
Kirschenbaum and Henderson, op cit., p. 5: "Eventually he also began to use his own life as a case study. In his last twenty years, he almost always [etc.]. "
It is necessary to add "I think." No one can be sure of Carl Rogers' motives. He wanted it that way. He was proud of the fact that, as he put it, "Nobody knows where I'm going until I've gone so far they can't stop me, that's one thing." He said, "I'm in a way sort of stealthy." Warren Bennis, who interviewed him for the "Reflections" film, said, "That is really interesting. I'm serious, this is very important. Stealthy—who would have ever thought Carl Rogers would—" and interrupted himself with a laugh. Believing that psychologists such as himself, who specialize in OD (Organizational Development), are "change agents," Bennis was fascinated by the admission. Bennis said he thought Rogerian stealth offered a "theory of change" (op. cit.). A side effect of Carl Rogers' stealth, however, is that no one can know with assurance what he had in mind to achieve, for "no one knows where I'm going until I get there." When Rogers and a colleague described to a magazine writer their consulting aims in starting a new organization (Center for Studies of the Person)—"Helping organizations achieve more of their own purposes rather than ours"—the description may not have been entirely accurate. (See Harold Keen, "Encounter Groups on the Move," San Diego Magazine, June 1969, pp. 36-41, 108-115.)
In 1957, he was one of three recipients of the first Distinguished Scientific Contribution awards of the American Psychological Association.
Carl Rogers, Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives (NY: Delacorte, 1972), p. 29.
Journals, entry of June 11, 1969, p. 1158.
Carl Rogers on Personal Power (NY: Delacorte, 1977), pp. 163-64.
The third if one counts Becoming Partners. It spoke of his marriage at a time when "I formed a real attachment to another woman. I am grateful that our grown-up daughter [Natalie] helped Helen to recognize her true feelings [of anger at her husband more than jealousy, he thought] and to reestablish communication between us. Helen and I both remain good friends of the woman who was such a threat to her" (p. 25).
Privately published, the book is Natalie Rogers, Emerging Woman: A Decade of Midlife Transitions (Santa Rosa, Calif.: Personal Press, 1980; 2nd edition 1989). It is available through the Person-Centered Expressive Therapy Institute (P. O. Box 6518, Santa Rosa 95406), which the author describes as "a living extension of the work of my father, Carl Rogers" (p. 10). The work there extended, however, is less the work for which her father was honored as a scientist (and trusted by Catholics) than work following upon acceptance of the principles of individualism practiced in the circle of the daughter, friends, and lovers. As an honored scientist, Carl Rogers knew only psychotherapy. As a participant in the person-centered circle, he (like the others) was supposed to know everything, i.e., everything of importance. Thomas Gordon exemplifies knowing everything when he writes of the "principle of separateness" that it "rules all human relationships"—all human relationships. But the principle was derived not from the study of relationships in all their variety but one very peculiar kind of relationship, namely, the permissive relationship between therapist and client. See Gordon's Teacher Effectiveness Training (NY: Wyden, 1974), p. 336.
Natalie Rogers, op. cit., pp. 176-77.
In his autobiography he wrote of a certain "smugness or assurance which has crept in." It appeared in writing the autobiography. It was a good feeling—still, a feeling, and therefore not a concept. "Intellectually" was another matter. "Intellectually," he wrote, "I know with equal assurance that I and my thinking may be shown to be completely erroneous; that the directions in which I am moving may prove to be blind alleys " (op. cit., pp. 382-83). He knew not only that long-term experience might reject his theories but that people might be hurt. To an audience of facilitators involved in the project with the Immaculate Heart sisters, he acknowleged that "we really are engaged in a new cultural enterprise which places value in behaving differently in social groups than individuals have customarily behaved. And do we know for certain that that's a better way to behave? Well, we think so. But I don't believe we can so that we know so. So we are involved in a risk. And so are the other people, I think" (from a tape recording, December 17, 1967, in the author's possession).
From the film "Reflections," op. cit. His "all of the things that I have developed,"included "the nonjudgmental quality that I encourage, the attitude of intellectual and personal exploration." Experience suggests that this combination, when carried directly from the clinic into life, is "TMP," Too Much Psychology. (The term is found in an interview conducted by Linda Nicolosi, "Reflections on the Human Potential Movement: An Interview with William Coulson," NARTH Bulletin [National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality], in press [Dec. 1994, pp. 8110.) Ordinarily Rogers didn't practice TMP. He knew better than to treat people who were not his clients as if they were. A story told by Logan Fox exemplifies. Fox, who helped edit the Japanese edition of Rogers' works, taught at Ibaraki Christian College in Japan and, like many other Christians, wanted to be more like Carl Rogers, at least the Carl Rogers he'd read. A good Rogerian is thought to be thoroughly nonjudgmental and empathic. But it was hard: "I so often failed to be accepting of people." He felt guilty about this—until Rogers arrived in Japan to conduct workshops at his invitation in 1961. One evening, after a day-long session, Fox and Rogers got together to compare notes, and the conversation turned to the annoying behavior of a certain participant. When judgments were unleashed, Fox teased Rogers about failing to practice acceptance. Rogers replied, "What the hell, he's no client of mine." (Quoted in Kirschenbaum's biography of Rogers, op. cit., pp. 296-97.)
Quoted in Jeannette DeWyze, "School without Rooms," San Diego's Reader, June 30, 1983, p. 1.
Rogers, for example, cited a paper by Maslow ("Our Maligned Animal Nature," referenced below) to support his shift from skepticism about people having "a real affection for themselves" to confidence a decade later. See Rogers, On Becoming a Person (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961), pp. vii, 73, and 91.
Journals, entry of June 21, 1961, p. 107.
From "Some Frontier Problems in Mental Health," unpublished paper in the Maslow collection, History of American Psychology Archives, University of Akron, Maslow's emphasis. Quoted in Edward Hoffman, The Right to Be Human: A Biography of Abraham Maslow (Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1988), pp. 261-62.
Journals, entry of August 30, 1962, p. 190.
Ibid., entry of October 22, 1968, p. 935.
Journals, entry of November 6, 1969, pp. 1193 and 1195.
Rogers, letter of April 16, 1972, to W. R. Coulson.
There were a dozen writings by him on this theme throughout the 1970s. The first was a graduation address, "The Person of Tomorrow" (1969), at Sonoma State College, and the last was a chapter cited above in a collection called Millennium: Glimpses into the 21st Century.
Rogers, Becoming Partners, pp. 213-14.
These developments are reported in an interview with the author in The Latin Mass, January-February 1994; reprinted in Theologisches (Germany), June 1994, pp. 275-287, and by Michael Real (England) in pamphlet form.
Quoted in Carl R. Rogers and W. R. Coulson, Interim Report of the Educational Innovation Project (La Jolla, Calif.: WBSI, 1968), p. 66.
Quoted in W. R. Coulson, Groups, Gimmicks, and Instant Gurus (NY: Harper & Row, 1972), p.115.
Let me add to the earlier reference to Emerging Woman that the book remains in print, has been translated into five languages, and can be ordered at $9.95 plus postage by calling the Person-Centered Expressive Therapy Institute, at 800/477-2384.
Natalie Rogers, The Creative Connection: Expressive Arts as Healing [Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books, 1993], p. xv.
Journals, entry of May 5, 1968, p. 919, emphasis in original.
Emerging Woman, p. 22.
Ibid., pp. 129-131.
Prentice-Hall, 1980, p. 280.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978, pp. 119-121.
May I speak again of gratitude for Natalie Rogers' openness (even though I question her authenticity)? She reports that publishers turned down Emerging Woman in manuscript, telling her, uniformly, that they "didn't want to advocate my lifestyle." At that point, as she writes in The Creative Connection, "I used my anger to motivate me to self-publish" (p. 161). It was as if she had inherited her father's desire to make of oneself an example. What she gave the world is a record even more intimate than his own, a record of the personal cost of an overreaching humanistic psychology.
Life, July 12, 1968, pp. 48, 56.
Journal of Psychology, Volume 28, p. 277, Maslow's emphasis.
Emerging Woman, p. 65, her emphasis.
In J. T. Hart and T. M. Tomlinson, eds., New Directions in Client-Centered Therapy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970), p. 524.
"Eupsychia" was his term for the society which would be created by a thousand self-actualizing people left alone to follow their nature.
Journals, p. 1186, Maslow's emphasis.
Reprinted in Emerging Woman, p. 30.
Ibid., p. 31.
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