Was Nelson Mandela's psychology an example of a fully functioning person?
Within a few hours of his death Nelson Mandela gained tributes from across the globe, ranging from genuine warm and heartfelt admiration to opportunist sound bites.
In the midst of all his achievements, psychology may remember him for a less mainstream reason. He may be one of the very few people who have scaled the summit of personal development, a term humanist psychologist Carl Rogers described as a' fully functional person' – the pinnacle of personal, spititual and emotional development that an individual can reach.
An idea also shared by fellow humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow in the 1950’s, which he described as self actualisation, the pinnacle of human intellectual personal fulfilment.described in the triangle below
The term ‘Seven stages of process’ coined by Rogers in 1961, refers to 7 changes in an individuals personal and emotional perception which clients can experience as part of the process of undertaking Person Centred therapy, another of Rogers ideas.
The stages could be described as an emotional – spiritual journey of personal growth and wisdom gathering , which starts at stage 1, with an individual blaming everybody else for their problems, completing the journey at stage 7.
At this stage, the individual shows empathy to others has a non judgmental attitude and is accepting of self; crucially at this stage the individual gains an understanding of their place in the world.
These stages are not discrete steps, more a passage of time, taken in therapy or through personal reflection, an active participatiojn in a process of being honest and real with self and others, a term Rogers referred to as congruence the real self, presented to the world without facade or defence.
It also takes a huge amount of courage and personal honesty, as Rogers himself described the journey of becoming ‘a fully functional person as ‘;
“This process of the good life is not, I am convinced, a life for the faint-hearted. It involves the stretching and growing of becoming more and more of one's potentialities. It involves the courage to be. It means launching oneself fully into the stream of life. (Rogers 1961)”
A term which fits well with the Nelson Mandela we came to know.
What do you think? , please share your thoughts in the comments page