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Reality Therapy’s View of Human Nature

  • A major tenet of reality therapy is its focus on consciousness: human beings operate on a conscious level; they are not driven by unconscious forces or instincts. 
  • A second belief about human nature is that there is a health/growth force within everyone which is manifested on two levels:  
    • Physical Orientation 
      • There is need to obtain life-sustaining necessities such as food, water, and shelter and use them. According to Glasser, human behaviour was once controlled by physical needs for survival, such as breathing, sweating, digesting, etc. Survival is associated with old brain, because it is automatically controlled by body.
    • Psychological Orientation
      • Belonging: the need for friends, family and love. 
      • Power: the need for self-esteem, recognition, and competition.
      • Freedom: the need to make choices and decisions.
      • Fun: the need for play, laughter, learning, and recreation.  
  • An associated need is of Identity: i.e., the development of a healthy sense of self. Identity needs are met by being accepted as a person by others. Especially important in this process is experiencing love and worth. When this happens, people achieve a Success identity; those whose needs are not met establish a failure identity, a maladjusted personality characterized by a lack of confidence and a tendency to give up easily. Because ”almost everyone is personally engaged in a search for acceptance as a person rather than as a performer of a task,” personal identity precedes performance. Failure identity develops in a child if:
    • The child does not get love, support, and guidance during 2-5 years of age
    • There are problems in learning and relating during 5-10 years of age. 
  • It presents an optimistic view of human nature that learning is a life-long process.
  • Control theory: people have mental images of their needs and behave accordingly. Personal actions are based on perceptions. Human beings create behaviours, including mentally disturbing ones like hallucinations, to satisfy internal pictures (perceptions)   

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