The Self and Self Actualization

According to Rogers (1959), infants begin to develop a vague concept of self when a portion of their experience becomes personalized and differentiated in awareness as "I" or "me" experiences. Infants gradually become aware of their own identity as they learn what tastes good and what tastes bad what feels pleasant and what does not. They then begin to evaluate experiences as positive or negative, using as a cri-

Chapter 11 Rogers: Person-Centered Theory 313

terion the actualizing tendency. Because nourishment is a requirement for actualization, infants value food and devalue hunger. They also value sleep, fresh ah, physical contact, and health because each of these is needed for actualization.

Once infants establish a rudimentary self structure, their tendency to actualize the self begins to evolve. Self-actualization is a subset of the actualization tendency and is therefore not synonymous with it. The actualization tendency refers to organising experiences of the individual; that is, it refers to the whole person—conscious and unconscious, physiological and cognitive. On the other hand self-actualization is the tendency to actualize the self as perceived in awareness. When the organism and the perceived self are hi harmony, the two actualization tendencies are nearly identical; but when people s organismic experiences are not in harmony with then view of self, a discrepancy exists between the actualization tendency and the self-actualization tendency. For example, if a mans organismic experience is one of anger toward his wife, and if anger toward spouse is contrary to his perception of self, then his actualization tendency and his self-actualization are incongruent and he will experience conflict and inner tension. Rogers (1959) postulated two self subsystems, the self-concept and the ideal self.

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