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Some Observations on the Organization of Personality

Some Observations on the Organization of Personality
Carl R. Rogers (1947)
Classics in the History of Psychology
An internet resource developed by
Christopher D. Green
York University, Toronto, Ontario
ISSN 1492-3173
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Some Observations on the Organization of Personality
Carl R. Rogers (1947)
Address of the retiring President of the American Psychological Association the
September
1947 Annual Meeting.
First published in American Psychologist, 2, 358-368.
Posted March 2000
In various fields of science rapid strides have been made when direct observation of
significant
processes has become possible. In medicine, when circumstances have permitted the
physician to peer directly into the stomach of his patient, understanding of digestive
processes
has increased and the influence of emotional tension upon all aspects of that process
has been
more accurately observed and understood. In our work with nondirective therapy we
often feel
that we are having a psychological opportunity comparable to this medical experience --
an
opportunity to observe directly a number of the effective processes of personality. Quite
aside
from any question regarding nondirective therapy as therapy, here is a precious vein of
observational material of unusual value for the study of personality.
Characteristics of the Observational Material
There are several ways in which the raw clinical data to which we have had access is
unique in
its value for understanding personality. The fact that these verbal expressions of inner
dynamics are preserved by electrical recording makes possible a detailed analysis of a
sort not
heretofore possible. Recording has given us a microscope by which we may examine at
leisure,
and in minute detail, almost every aspect of what was, in its occurrence, a fleeting
moment
impossible of accurate observation.
Another scientifically fortunate characteristic of this material is the fact that the verbal
productions of the client are biased to a minimal degree by the therapist. Material from
client-
centered interviews probably comes closer to being a "pure" expression of attitudes than
has
yet been achieved through other means. One can read through a complete recorded
case or
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