Adjustment (psychology)

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There are some things in our society and some things in our world to which I am proud to be maladjusted. ... I never intend to adjust myself to racial segregation and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

In psychology, adjustment refers to the behavioral process of balancing conflicting needs, or needs against obstacles in the environment.

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B[edit]

  • There is a therapy of self-indulgence and adjustment which is little more than another weapon in the arsenal of social conformity, and there is a therapy which “makes the unconscious conscious, enlarges the scope of awareness.” There is a socialization which turns curious children into adult automatons in a social environment of repressive uniformity, and there is a socialization which turns selfish, impulsive children into self-aware and deliberate participants in a larger community.
    • Benjamin R. Barber, “Forced to be Free: An Illiberal Defense of Liberty,” Superman and Common Men (New York: 1971), p. 72
      • quotation is from Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself, p. 101

F[edit]

  • Many psychiatrists and psychologists refuse to entertain the idea that society as a whole may be lacking in sanity. They hold that the problem of mental health in a society is only that of the number of ‘unadjusted’ individuals, and not of a possible unadjustment of the culture itself.


  • The aim of therapy is often that of helping the person to be better adjusted to the existing circumstances, to ‘reality’ as it is frequently called; mental health is often considered to be nothing but this adjustment. … The psychologists … become the priests of industrial society, helping to fulfil its aims by helping the individual to become the perfectly adjusted organization man.
    • Erich Fromm, Beyond the Chains of Illusion (1989), pp. 131-132

H[edit]

  • The world is so possessed by the power of what is and the efforts of adjustment to it, that the adolescent's rebellion, which once fought the father because his practices contradicted his own ideology, can no longer crop up. ... Psychologically, the father is ... replaced by the world of things.
    • Max Horkheimer, “The End of Reason,” The Essential Frankfurt School Reader (1982), p. 41-42


  • If this truth has once and for all been discarded and men have decided for integral adjustment, if reason has been purged of all morality regardless of cost, and has triumphed over all else, no one may remain outside and look on. The existence of one solitary “unreasonable” man elucidates the shame of the entire nation. His existence testifies to the relativity of the system of radical self-preservation that has been posited as absolute.
    • Max Horkheimer, “The End of Reason,” The Essential Frankfurt School Reader (1982), p. 45

K[edit]

  • Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word in psychology. It is the word "maladjusted." ... There are some things in our society and some things in our world to which I am proud to be maladjusted and I call upon all men of good-will to be maladjusted to these things. ... I never intend to adjust myself to racial segregation] and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.

M[edit]

  • Either one defines “personality” and “individuality” in terms of their possibilities within the established form of civilization, in which case their realization is for the vast majority tantamount to successful adjustment. Or one defines them in terms of their transcending content, including their socially denied potentialities beyond (and beneath) their actual existence; in this case, their realization would imply transgression, beyond the established form of civilization, to radically new modes of “personality” and “individuality” incompatible with the prevailing ones. Today, this would mean “curing” the patient to become a rebel or (which is saying the same thing) a martyr.

W[edit]

  • Whenever the therapist stands with society, he will interpret his work as adjusting the individual and coaxing his 'unconscious drives' into social respectability. But such 'official psychotherapy' lacks integrity and becomes the obedient tool of armies, bureaucracies, churches, corporations, and all agencies that require individual brainwashing. On the other hand, the therapist who is really interested in helping the individual is forced into social criticism. This does not mean that he has to engage directly in political revolution; it means that he has to help the individual in liberating himself from various forms of social conditioning, which includes liberation from hating this conditioning - hatred being a form of bondage to its object.
    • Alan Watts, Psychotherapy, East and West (1961), p. 8

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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