was one of the pioneers of Interactional Psychology, believing that psychological
health was due mainly to healthy communication between people. He was
one of the first of the new school of psychologists like Abraham Maslow
and Eric Berne,
who tended away from concepts of life being predetermined and irrevocably
fixed by one's early conditioning or the mystical complexes inspired by tortuous
imaginations. He felt most strongly that, in working with and attempting
other human beings, one could always find a strong impulse towards positive
growth. In his
many years of experience he began to formulate a concept which I shall paraphrase,
"The curious paradox is that when I can accept myself as I am then I change;
and when I can accept you as you are then you change." Rogers found that the more
he was able to accept both himself and the patient as they were, then the more change
seemed to occur in both of them. Therapy became a mutual growth process.
I say to my patients: "What part of your personality do you fight? If you
it, it will change." Usually they will say they don't know, so I start
throwing out suggestions
to see if they fit, such as:
"I accept the fact that I bottle up feelings which then show themselves
"I accept the fact that I am non-assertive and allow people to manipulate
"I accept the fact that I have difficulty coping with stress."
I accumulated quite a list of such suggestions and patients were able to identify
with some of them and thus make self acceptance easier.
can accept yourself as you are and give yourself permission to have difficulty
with it, then the curious paradox is that you will change. I do not know
how it works,
but I do know that it does work. This "Paradox of Change" of Carl Rogers
in slightly different terms the "Law of Inverse Effort" of Emil Coue, "The harder
you try, the less likely you are to succeed" and the "Law of Paradoxical Intention"
of Viktor Frankl, "If you try hard to go to sleep, you stay awake; if you
try hard to
stay awake, you go to sleep." The important thing is to be able to say,
the fact that I have difficulty coping with stress, and that's O.K."