Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rock On... Carl Rogers' "Journey Into Self"

Seeing Carl Rogers put his person-centered theory in motion on the documentary Journey Into Self has changed my perspective on his practice, to a degree. My main criticism with his theory is that an imperfect counselor trying to prod his or her imperfect client(s) into self-actualization is similar to the blind leading the blind. However, I saw a different method play out. Instead of guiding each client through this group therapy session, Rogers just sits there and allows the client to be their own therapist, while he interjects on a few occasions to make a quick point or suggest a thought to continue the discussion for as long as it does. By letting the clients make their own assessments, repressed feelings are unearthed for everyone to see in each other's quest to root themselves in their own form of closure while Rogers looks on as a spectator.

Based on everyone's confessions regarding their own faults and discouragements, I personally felt they were all, in some way, looking for acceptance by disclosing their apprehension. For instance, a woman named Beth said that she shows more love for her cats than her husband because she doesn't feel the love that she used to from him. Her subconscious technique perpetuates the isolation she feels in marriage, and only after acknowledging this does she begin to feel sorry for the pain she caused. The Eurasian lady also remarked that she felt less than human because her husband (who was actually Rogers' second wife) kept calling her a "lotus blossom." She broke down, not because the flower remark was derogatory, but because she wanted to be appreciated as a fallible individual. I found this human element very touching.

The main point I took from this film came at its conclusion when Rogers said, "Learning is irreversible." I think this is a crucial maxim based on his train of thought because it implies that any backward or forward progress one makes in their psychological development is built upon learned stimuli. Using this logic, no psychological disorder can appear or vanish overnight. Thus, the decision to control or be controlled is a conscious effort to give meaning in one's life.

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