Person-Centered International, Posted by Jerold Bozarth and
Sam Evans


According to my reading of Rogers,  the AT is a concept referring to the basic biological, organismic drive of all living things - to maintain and  protect itself, to develop itself and realize its potentialities. The SA tendency in Rogers refers to the actualization of the self. A common misunderstanding is to view SA and AT as in competition if the  person holds (has learned) conditions of worth as part of the self-system.  This is true in a sense, but it is misleading.  It gives the impression  that the AT comes and goes.  I do not think that is what Rogers meant,
although in a couple of spots he writes ambiguously about this - kind of uses a shorthand. That competition (between the self-system and the organismic valuing capability) is no different than competition among other subsystems of the whole organism.  For example, a person may "actualize" their maintainence systems at the expense of value systems.  Or the reverse, a person might chose to die in order to live out their values of honor or of community, etc. Or chose to lose a limb (lose physical wholeness) rather than die.

In all cases the AT is operative - it is a basic organismic drive and encompasses all motives and sub-drives.  The difference is in the subsystems that are salient at the time. In the AT/SA situation it is that subsystem - of the self - overriding the
organismic valuing system rather than "self-actualization" winning out over the "AT".  Even tho that is a possible way to express the matter. The factors that go into more or less strength of the whole AT are biological, I think, in Rogers' theory.  Those factors that go into more or
 less strength of the  particular physical, physiological and psychological subsystems (such as keeping alive in any case which might involve sacrifice of others or of values, or developing the muscles of the body more than intellect, etc. etc.) are factors in the person's immediate circumstances - social and physical, personal history, learning, inherited subsystem
 characteristics and such.

Personally, I think Rogers went too far by positing a formative tendency (FT). To me, the AT is a good hypothesis and not a belief.  The FT gets a bit mystical in my view and shifts the AT towards a belief system.  However, in Rogers' theory, the AT is conceptually a sub-form of the formative tendency, one applying specifically to organisms.  ( Probably meant to apply to plants as well as animal organisms)  The FT seems to apply to everything else in the universe (and beyond?).

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