Fully Functioning Person

The Theory of the Fully Functioning Person (Rogers, 1959)):

Within his well-known theory of psychotherapy, personality and interpersonal relationships Rogers (1959, p. 234-235) specified his view of optimal development in terms of the properties of a “fully functioning person.”

  1. The individual has an inherent tendency toward actualizing his organism.
  2. The individual has the capacity and tendency to symbolize experiences accurately in awareness.
    a. A corollary statement is that he has the capacity and tendency to keep his self-concept congruent with his experience.
  3. The individual has a need for positive regard.
  4. The individual has a need for positive self-regard.
  5. Tendencies A and B are most fully realized when needs C and D are met. More specifically, tendencies A and B tend to be most fully realized when
    a. The individual experiences unconditional positive regard from significant others.
    b. The pervasiveness of this unconditional positive regard is made evident through relationships marked by a complete and communicated empathic understanding of the individual’s frame of reference.
  6. If the conditions are met to a maximum degree, the individual who experiences these conditions will be a fully functioning person.

The fully functioning person will have at least these characteristics:

  1. He will be open to his experience.
    a. The corollary statement is that he will exhibit no defensiveness.
  2. Hence all experiences will be available to awareness.
  3. All symbolizations will be as accurate as the experiential data will permit.
  4. His self-structure will be congruent with his experience.
  5. His self-structure will be a fluid gestalt, changing flexibly in the process of assimilation of new experience.
  6. He will experience himself as the locus of evaluation.
    a. The valuing process will be a continuing organismic one.
  7. He will have no conditions of worth.
    a. The corollary statement is that he will experience unconditional self-regard.
  8. He will meet each situation with behavior which is a unique and creative adaption to the newness of that moment.
  9. He will find his organismic valuing a trustworthy guide to the most satisfying behaviors, because
    a. All available experiential data will be available to awareness and used.
    b. No datum of experience will be distorted in, or denied to, awareness.
    c. The outcomes of behavior in experience will be available to awareness.
    d. Hence any failure to achieve the maximum possible satisfaction, because of lack of data, will be corrected by this effective reality testing.
  10. He will live with others of in the maximum possible harmony, because of the rewarding character of reciprocal positive regard […].

Note that although the theory of the Fully Functioning Person describes the characteristics of an individual, the development towards this “end” is made possible by a significant other, i.e. within an interpersonal relationship with particular properties. The importance of relationship and interaction also becomes evident from proposition IX of Rogers’s Theory of Personality and Behavior (1951): 

“As a result of the interaction with the environment, and particularly as a result of evaluational interaction with others, the structure of self is formed – an organized, fluid, but consistent conceptual pattern of perceptions of characteristics and relationships of the “I” or the “me,” together with the values attached to these concepts.”