The Nature of the Self in Autonomy and Relatedness

  • Richard M. Ryan


Psychology is, before all else, a life science. The inescapable and basic fact is that humans must count themselves among organisms, not so different in kind from the weeds that tenaciously grip the crevices, or the small creatures that persist in multiplying beneath the feet of our heavily treading civilization. Humans, too, grip the same earth and from it draw sustenance in an attempt to maintain and elaborate themselves. As Piaget (1971) once argued, “the very nature of life is constantly to overtake itself,” to adapt, to assimilate, to extend ever further. Humans, and all other animate entities (i.e., organisms) are differentiated from the inanimate by this inherent neg-entropic orientation in which they actively enter into exchanges with the environment and respond to perturbations in a manner that preserves and extends their integrity. This idea is reflected in the very term organism, which derives from the idea of organization (Jacob, 1976; von Bertalanffy, 1968).


Intrinsic Motivation Parent Style Social Comparison Autonomy Support Care Giver 
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  • Richard M. Ryan

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