One of the reasons why we know so much about Humanistic Psychology today is because of the defection of one of its major practitioners, Dr. William Coulson, a former colleague of Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. He testified how fraudulent the Encounter Movement was as science and how destructive it was in practice.
The encounter idea was first developed at the National Training Laboratory (NTL) at Bethel, Maine, sponsored by the National Education Association. It was founded in 1948 by Kurt Lewin, a German social psychologist who invented “sensitivity training” and “group dynamics,” or the psychology of the collective. Lewin’s work was very much in harmony with John Dewey’s collectivist educational philosophy.
Lewin’s work in Germany in the 1920s was also in harmony with the experiments taking place in Pavlov’s laboratory in Moscow on techniques of artificially creating behavioral disorganization. All of this was well expounded in a book written by one of Pavlov’s colleagues, Alexander Luria, The Nature of Human Conflicts, Researches in Disorganization and Control of Human Behavior, published in 1932. It had been translated from Russian by W. Horsley Gantt, an American psychologist who had spent the years 1922 to 1929 working in Pavlov’s laboratories in the Soviet Union. In his preface to the book, Luria wrote:
The researches described here are the results of the experimental psychological investigations at the State Institute of Experimental Psychology, Moscow, during the period 1923-1930. The chief problems of the author were an objective and materialistic description of the mechanisms lying at the basis of the disorganization of human behavior and an experimental approach to the laws of its regulation.... To accomplish this it was necessary to create artificially affects and models of experimental neuroses which made possible an analysis of the laws lying at the basis of the disintegration of behavior.
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