Sidney M. Jourard's Selected Writings
Summary of Central Ideas
- Prepared by Psychology 307 student discussion
groups, Fall 2000
- Based on Michael Lowman & Sidney Jourard:
Sidney M. Jourard, Selected
Writings. Marina Del Rey: Round Right
- HEALTHY PERSONALITY.
- A healthy personality is in touch with herself, not afraid of
change, authentic, and lives freely in her body, with relaxed
- An unhealthy personality is someone who has not truly made
himself known to at least one other human being, and therefore
does not know himself. Such a person struggles actively to avoid
becoming known by others.
- Powerful authentic sharing occurs when one person discloses
themself in a way that allows the other to feel free to do the
- Self-disclosure can be an important means of growing as a
person. Self-disclosure is on a continuum, and the healthy
personality has the ability to discern what is appropriate and
what is not.
- Jourard believes that chronic self-concealment contributes to
malaise and disease of all kinds.
- The therapists use of self-disclosure demystifies both the
therapist and the client. It allows more of the client's essence
to come out and allows the interaction to become more of a
- Humanistic psychology is defined in part by an effort of self
disclosure that creates conscious awareness by helping ourselves
and others come to an understanding of what is going on inside and
possibly the forces that cause that.
- Attribution theory asks, "What do other people think is going
on in us?" "What do we think is going on in ourselves?" "To what
degree does the other person's view of me affect my view of
- SOLITUDE VS. LONELINESS
- Modern society incorrectly teaches people that solitude is
loneliness (i.e. wrong). This outlook helps keep them from
discovering who they really are and what they really want. It
contributes to maintaining the status quo in the social order. In
fact, solitude can contribute to psychological growth.
- "TRAINING" vs. EDUCATION AND TRUE LEARNING
- In "training," conformity rather than individuality is
rewarded. By constantly conforming we lose ourselves. We come into
society having to conform' then as we get older we become part of
a system in which we are causing conforming.
- Fascination with something awakens true independent,
- "Being reborn" means to become aware. When you stop to look in
a different way, you can become aware of things you've never seen
before even though you've seen them many times.
- In good psychotherapy, the therapist helps the client enter
his or her experience deeply.
- Good teachers are existential explorers who teach you
to think. A teacher is one "who has been awakened from the
illusion that there is only one sane, right and legal way to
experience the world and behave in it." Our salvation is dependent
on education rather than training.
- "Social engineering"&emdash;in our society we have become
exceptionally skilled at training, mystifying, and stupifying
masses of people.
- "Not to listen is to invalidate the perspective of the
speaker." People need to be heard, for it validates their voice.
- Dialogue, for Jourard, is the appropriate way for human
beings to be or be with each other, not imposition, power plays,
and manipulation. Family life is an appropriate place for dialogue
to be learned and practiced. Dialogue facilitates growth in
competence, self-sufficiency, and self-esteem.
- Language, including literature and poetry, is a way of
experiencing other perspectives of the world, and of altering
one's own experience of the world.
- SOCIAL RULES AND ROLES vis-a-vis THE INNER SELF
- It's comfortable to stay in our roles. Coming out of them
disrupts and threatens stability, yet challenging them is a big
part of rebirth. We can't change roles we're caught in until we
recognize them. Rules, regulations, and roles seldom foster
independent learning&emdash;"Independent learners rock the boat."
- At times we take on someone else's interests, habits, feelings
and views as our own. A role is often characterized by a false self.
There are varying degrees of awareness of this false self.
- "Normal" personalities are not necessarily healthy
personalities. Sometimes self-alienation is so much a part of us
that we do not realize it.
- Our society can close us off from ourselves through locking us
tightly into our societal roles, leaving us with a lack of
- Jourard predicted a struggle between man's "status quo" and
his consciousness, between those who wish to keep up their roles
and those who wish to break free and live their potentialities.
- The "ideal marriage," when people devote themselves to trying
to realize it, is a snare, a trap, and an image, the worship of
which destroys life. Change is not so much a threat as it is the
fruit of a good marriage.
- To attain liberation from rules and roles that don't fit who
you are, at some point you have to have the courage of
authentically being yourself--to not be afraid.
- We inspire children to be greedy and bottomless consumers.
- For Jourard, how we induce people to speak, to find their
voices, to "come out of hiding," is a significant question.