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Fully Functioning Person

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Definition:

According to Carl Rogers, a fully functioning person is one who is in touch with his or her deepest and innermost feelings and desires. These individuals understand their own emotions and place a deep trust in their own instincts and urges. Unconditional positive regard plays an essential role in becoming a fully functioning person.

Rogers suggested that people have an actualizing tendency, or a need to achieve their full potential – a concept that is often referred to as self-actualization. Rogers believed that a fully-functioning person is an individual who is continually working toward becoming self-actualized. This individual has received unconditional positive regard from others, does not place conditions on his or her own worth, is capable of expressing feelings, and is fully open to life's many experiences.

Defining the Fully Functioning Person

"Essentially, the fully functioning person is completely congruent and integrated. Such a person, Rogers believes, is able to embrace 'existential living.' By this he means they are able to live fully in the here and now with personal inner freedom, with all its accompanying exciting, creative, but also challenging, aspects."
(Freeth, 2007)

"Such a person experiences in the present, with immediacy. He is able to live in his feelings and reactions of the moment. He is not bound by the structure of his past learnings, but these are a present resource for him insofar as they relate to the experience of the moment. He lives freely, subjectively, in an existential confrontation of this moment in life."
(Rogers, 1962)

"The fully functioning person has a flexible, constantly evolving self-concept. She is realistic, open to new experiences, and capable of changing in response to new experiences. Rather than defending against or distorting her own thoughts or feelings, the person experiences congruence: Her sense of self is consistent with her emotions and experiences. The actualizing tendency is fully operational in her, and she makes conscious choices that move her in the direction of greater growth and fulfillment of potential."
(Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2006)

The Characteristics of a Fully Functioning Person

Characteristics of a fully functioning person include:

  • Openness to experience
  • Lack of defensiveness
  • The ability to interpret experiences accurately
  • A flexible self-concept and the ability to change through experience
  • The ability to trust one's experiences and form values based on those experiences
  • Unconditional self-regard
  • The tendency to be open to new experiences
  • Does not feel the need to distort or deny experiences
  • Open to feedback and willing to make realistic changes
  • Lives in harmony with other people

Rogers also developed a form of therapy known as client-centered therapy. In this approach, the therapist's goal is to offer unconditional positive regard to the client. The goal is that the individual will be able to grow emotionally and psychologically and eventually become a fully-functioning person.

Related topics:

More Psychology Definitions: The Psychology Dictionary

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References

Rogers, C. (1962). Toward becoming a fully functioning person. In Perceiving, Behaving, and Becoming: A New Focus for Education. Arthur W. Combs. Washington, DC: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Freeth, R. (2007). Humanizing Psychiatry and Mental Health Care: The challenge of the Person-Centered Approach. United Kingdom: Radcliffe Publishing Ltd.

Hockenbury, D. H. & Hockenbury, S. E. (2006). Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers.

Merry, T. (1999). Learning and Being in Person-Centered Counselling (2nd edition). Ross-on-Wye: PCCS Books.

 

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