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Maslow, Rogers, Skinner, Frankl, and Freud---Men Who Changed The World

Updated on March 27, 2010

Great Psychological Thinkers in the Twentieth Century

Many men dominated the field of psychology during the Twentieth Century. Sigmund Freud, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, B.F. Skinner, and Victor Frankl are among them.

This lens is about them and others. I'll continue to add information about these and other psychologists. If you make comments at the bottom of the lens and include the name of a psychologist you'd like me to add, I will.

I look forward to reading your comments and responding to them.

Three Forces of Psychology

Psychoanalysis, Behaviorism, and Humanistic Psychology

First Force of Psychology

Sigmund Freud is known as the father of psychoanalysis. As an author and theorist, he pioneered the concept of the unconscious by describing how human beings are motivated by thoughts and feelings they do not know they are thinking and feeling. He called these "unconscious behaviors." His original thinking helped explain why people behave like they do.

Second Force of Psychology

Psychologists like B.F. Skinner theorized and demonstrated how behavior could be explained without using Freud's ideas. Skinner explained that people behave the way they do because the behavior is reinforced or rewarded. People liked his ideas because they could apply them and see how they worked. Behavior Modification gets results.

Third Force of Psychology

Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers were Humanistic Psychologists. They believed that human beings are motivated by something other than "unconscious wishes" or "reinforcement." They believed we all are motivated to self-actualize, or aspire to be or do something great.

The Talking Cure

Psychoanalysis and other forms of analytical psychology rely on the patient's ability to gain insight into his or her problems and change because he or she has the insight.

Sigmund Freud

The Father of Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud theorized that all people have an unconscious mind, or a part of their mind that is outside of their awareness. He also believed that the thoughts, feelings, and impulses originating in that part of their mind are frightening to them, so they have defenses against knowing about those thoughts and feelings.

Freud also described how these unconscious complexes of thoughts and feelings originated in the conflict between the impulse toward life and the impulse toward death. These impulses are part of the libido.

In order to explain how people live their lives with these unconscious conflicts and impulses, Freud described the conscious world of the ego that each of us has. This is the part of our minds that we use to make day to day decisions.

But since he believed we have the id, the mass of impulses in the unconscious, he also needed to explain how we learn to hide them from ourselves and control them. To do this, he used the concept of the superego, the part of our mind that is rule governed that holds our impulses in check.

The entire process of making decisions based on what our egos believe to be good for us and others while restraining those unconscious impulses satisfying them in socially acceptable ways is called sublimation.

Victor Frankl

An Existential Therapist

As a lecturer, Victor Frankl described how he found meaning in the concentration camps and how his psychotherapy clients found meaning in their lives in the aftermath of great loss.

Dr. Frankl described his existential theory and applications of that theory in his books "Man's Search for Meaning" and "the Unconscious God." As an author, he wrote in German. As a lecturer he taught in both German and English.For many years he taught courses at universities in Europe and North America simultaneously.

Through his compassion for others and his ability to recognize the value of their struggles to find meaning, Dr. Frankl articulated "logotherapy" and how our responsibility is "for our...own existence."

He continues to inspire others with his story and his theory.

Behavior Modification

Behavior is learned. It is also possible to unlearn a behavior.

B.F. Skinner: The Guy Who Worked With Pigeons.....and people's behavior.

It is important to know the difference between punishment and negative reinforcement.

B.F. Skinner taught us how to shape behavior. He showed that he could teach pigeons to peck on a lever in a cage to get a pellet of food. He did this by reinforcing the behaviors that led to the pecking the lever.

It's more than a little like flirting. We flirt to get attention. When we get the type of attention we want, then we flirt some more....maybe in a different way....until the behavior we get is more like what we want.

B.F. Skinner also showed that it is possible to "extinguish a behavior," or make the behavior stop, if we stop rewarding it. For example, we could stop feeding he pigeon when the pigeon pecks the lever. We could also stop flirting when approached by the other person.

In fact, we could feed the pigeon when the pigeon was as far away from the lever as possible. We could also smile and say compliments when the person does something incompatible with approaching.

In either situation, we stop reinforcing one behavior and reinforce a new behavior to replace the one we're extinguishing.

If we're doing negative reinforcement, we withhold something to get more of something. For example, I withhold "time outs" to get responsible behavior in my granddaughter. I can do it because I know she wants to avoid time outs and she knows the time outs are for misbehaving. So, I tell her, if you pick up your toys the first time I tell you, then you won't go into time out. She picks up the toys so she doesn't go into time out and the absence of time out is the reinforcement. I repeat, in this case, the reinforcement is the absence of time out.

Being Human

Humans have great potential.

It is possible to change our thoughts and feel or behave differently.

It is also possible to change our behavior and feel differently.

Given the opportunity, we can self-actualize.

Abraham Maslow: The Hierarchy of Needs Guy!

A Humanistic Psychologist

Abraham was a psychologist that researched how human needs motivate behavior. He described how different needs have greater priority than others. When he did, he found that our needs can be understood better by arranging them in the order of their importance, or dominance, in our lives. That hierarchy of needs is used to help explain behavior in our lives whether we're at work or at home.

Abraham Maslow explained how people are motivated by a variety of needs. Some needs take greater priority in our lives than others. For example, we all need food, clothing, and shelter. These basic needs influence us all.

But we also need love and belonging. This type of needs is more easily pursued if our basic needs are met.

In addition, we have a need to self-actualize, to be or do something greater than our selves. This is a higher order need.

Maslow also described that some of us have deficiency needs, or needs that are unsatisfied and preoccupy us. For example, people who suffer the terrors of war when they are children may have difficulty their entire lives because their needs went unfulfilled as children and the memories of that time in their lives still influence them, even though those basic needs are met later in life.

Maslow also talked about being-needs, or the types of needs that people have when their core self recognizes their basic needs are met sufficiently. At times like this, those individuals are able to act on the basis of the needs of others more freely than those who are motivated by deficiency needs.

Carl Rogers

Humanistic Psychologist

Carl Rogers theorized that paying attention to the way people think about themselves, the world where they live, and the choices they face is an effective way to help people face their difficulties.

He believed we each have the potential to create a meaningful life. He also believed that many approaches to therapy were focused on technique or theory instead of the client. In fact, Carl Rogers said that referring to people as "patients" assumed illness and inhibited the therapist's ability to recognize the humanness in others.

He said a therapist needs to be "congruent, empathetic, and respectful." These three qualities are essential to therapy.

This focus on the relationship the therapist has with the client was fresh and an improvement over the other approaches used in therapy that "modified" people's behavior or "analyzed" patient's unconscious minds.

Carl Rogers approach began with the assumption people need the opportunity to be the unique individuals they are and if given that and the resources they need, the human potential in each of them would lead to "wellness."

Albert Bandura: The Self-Esteem Guy!

A Social Learning Theorist

Albert Bandura teaches how we learn by observing, rehearsing, and imitating. He explains how we learn whether the behavior we do is effective at getting us what we want by thinking about the consequences of our own behavior.

In other words, if you try to ride a bike and fall off, you think about what you were doing when you fell and then choose to do something different the next time you ride the bike.

He also says it's a good idea to learn in a group because we can learn by watching other people do the task and by having them talk with us to guide us when we do the task. In other words, your kid brother or sister can show you how to do a trick on a bike and then help you copy it by telling you what to do if you make a mistake.

Albert Bandura is the guy who filmed adults hitting a doll and showed it to boys and girls. Those kids who saw the film, hit the doll. Those who didn't see the film, didn't hit the doll.

Albert Bandura is alive and well at Standford University. He's a neat man who has given us much!

Psychotherapy Comes In Many Flavors

May the Force Be With You - Psychoanalysis, Behaviorism, Humanistic Psychology

"Pick your poison."

Do you like psychoanalysis?

Do you prefer behaviorism?

Or is humanistic psychology your gig?

What's Your Favorite Force in Psychology

See results

I look forward to reading your comments about this lens. If you suggest another psychologist or therapist, I'll add him or her to the list. I might even do a lens on the person you suggest.

Check back once in a while to see the updates.

Tell me what you think.

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    • profile image

      Joe Barritt 4 months ago


      I AM IN.

      I WANT MORE. .


    • bluelily lm profile image

      bluelily lm 4 years ago

      Abraham Maslow had played an instrumental role in classifying the human motivation factors and these are widely applied in HR practices. Thank you for putting up this lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Well done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thanks so much for making the difference between Maslow and Skinner understandable for me. I have read other books but could not understand what these men actually did, but your explanation made it plain and simple

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      love the theory by freud...quite intriguing

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thumbs Up!

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 8 years ago

      Sigmund Freud he writes about the human condition our "unconscious behaviors." His original thinking helped explain why people behave like we do but only because we are unconscious.but not everybody wanted to hear the truth about our ego and Id but I love his work it helped me

    • Laniann profile image

      Laniann 8 years ago

      You did a great job explaining how these men of the Twentieth Century of psychology thought and how they differ from each other. 5*


    • draik profile image

      draik 8 years ago

      Thanks for joining Famous People Group. Your lens was added to our feature famous people module and it will appear randomly.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I like it

    • x3xsolxdierx3x lm profile image

      x3xsolxdierx3x lm 8 years ago

      In nursing school, Iv'e had so much Maslow hammered into my brain.....some good ideas that gentleman came up with, and very applicable to the profession....5 stars here

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      How come no Carl Gustav Jung?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Wow! All great minds on one lens. Definitely a 5* lens.


    • profile image

      QueSea 9 years ago

      [in reply to clouda9] Glad you liked it!

    • profile image

      QueSea 9 years ago

      [in reply to debnet] I'm glad you visited. I looked at your group about Emotional Intelligence. You've got a terrific reading list there. I submitted this lens to that group. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      QueSea 9 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to visit this lens. I'm glad that you find humanistic psychology interesting. If you leave questions, I'll look for and post answers (smile).

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 9 years ago

      I thought you shared great information in this lens. I have always been intrigued by anything psychology...especially humanistic psychology.

    • debnet profile image

      Debbie 9 years ago from England

      I work within educational psycholgy and found this very interesting. A lot of my work is based around maslow's hierachy. Daniel Golman is another and his work on Emotional Intekkigence, led to the development of the team I work on which was a first in the UK. 5***** Please submit this lens to The Emotional Wellbeing Group :)

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      Trudles88 9 years ago

      Great page! It's always important to read about the psychologists who provided the basis for what we know now.