What is Different about IH?

“We are all born to love whatever care we get and to want more of it.”
—Martha Heineman Pieper & William J. Pieper
“Humans truly do not live by bread alone; essential human nature can most aptly be described as ‘the need to hunt and gather meaning.’”
—Martha Heineman Pieper & William J. Pieper
“Intrapsychic Humanism provides an optimistic view of human nature - [and] a groundbreaking new approach to personality development and the etiology, nature, and treatment of psychopathology.”
—William C. Wimsatt Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago
“All babies enter the world as optimists who love their parents and believe their parents are perfectly devoted to them.”
—Martha Heineman Pieper & William J. Pieper
“Intrapsychic Humanism ... advances a revolutionary developmental psychology, which generates a unified and inclusive theory of paradigmatic human experience, psychopathology, and psychological Treatment.”
—Antonia Bercovici Past President, California State Psychological Association
“Purposive behavior is the sine qua non of human existence; without purpose the individual will not remain alive.”
—Martha Heineman Pieper & William J. Pieper
“The reason positive change is possible is that you never lose your inborn thirst for genuine pleasure.”
—Martha Heineman Pieper & William J. Pieper
“Every child is born with a starter supply of inner happiness — feeling loveable, loving, and loved.”
—Martha Heineman Pieper & William J. Pieper

A contemporary theory of psychological development and psychotherapy, Intrapsychic Humanism, addresses some of the most fundamental questions in psychology and the philosophy of mind:

  • What constitutes human happiness? How can we pursue it?
  • How do we experience subjective personal meaning? How do we acquire it?
  • How do we live the good life?
  • What is the cause of human unhappiness, emotional, behavioral, and relationship dysfunction? What can we do about it?

Human Development

From a unique understanding of our innate human nature, it suggests unique answers to the questions posed above:

  • Innate human nature entails a need for personal meaning

    Each of us has an in-born desire to be loved and cared for, to love our caregivers, and to want to copy the care we receive. In other words, our most fundamental core personal meaning relates to knowing we are personally cared for and unconditionally worthy, in and of ourselves.
  • Personal meaning develops through a caregiving relationship

    The caregiving relationship experience nurtures the child’s personal meaning (self-worth, inner happiness) in identifiable stages from infancy through early adulthood. When the caregiving is accurately informed, personal meaning in adulthood optimally conveys an inner well-being that sustains self-caretaking choices and the pursuit of genuine pleasure that fosters happy and fulfilling lives. These developmental principles are applied in a parenting book, Smart Love.
  • The origins of unhappiness

    It offers a humanistic understanding of the origins of inner unhappiness and the inner barriers that keep us from creating close, loving relationships and from reaching our full potential in education and work. It does not view unhappiness and inner conflict as an inevitable aspect of human nature. It entails a theory about how and why our need and motive for personal meaning can develop in an unstable, distorted form that gives rise to psychological emotional pain, and behavioral and relationship dysfunction. A self-help book, Addicted to Unhappiness, applies these ideas to common forms of unhappiness, illustrated with many examples along with guidance for overcoming them.


  • Inner Humanism® Psychotherapy

    An approach to psychotherapy based on these ideas engages and strengthens the individual’s innate motives for personal meaning and interpersonal happiness through the empirical experience of being cared for in the therapeutic relationship.
  • Aims of the therapy are to help people develop:*

    • A more consistent, pleasurable personal meaning, inner self-worth
    • A greater preference for and commitment to making choices that are genuinely pleasurable and self-caretaking
    • An increasing ability to distinguish inclinations and interests in pursuit of genuine pleasure that are self-caretaking, from those in pursuit of previously hidden, unrecognized motives for unhappiness that are self-defeating
    • An increasing sense of effective agency in pursuing constructive motives
    • An increasing preference for and commitment to pursuing and creating mutually caring, respectful relationships
    *As with all forms of psychotherapy, these areas of focus and aims are aspirational and individual experiences and results will vary.
  • The therapy works through the relationship:

    • Individually tailoring the therapy to the needs, concerns, and motives of each person
    • Going beyond creating a positive working alliance to using the therapeutic relationship in helping to create the structural development of pleasurable personal meaning, increased reflectiveness and self-caretaking
    • Understanding the person’s ongoing communications about their experiences in the therapeutic relationship (process meaning)
    • Responding to their process communications in ways that facilitate the person’s developing trust in the therapeutic caregiving, knowing when and how to intervene
    • Responding to negative feelings in the relationship to facilitate the relationship and progress
    • Facilitating the person’s emerging motives for pleasurable personal meaning and interpersonal happiness
    • Identifying the person’s acquired, internalized motives for inner and interpersonal unhappiness that are self-defeating
    • Understanding and navigating inevitable setbacks in the individual’s progress (aversive reactions to pleasure)
    • Recognizing and ethically managing in reflective practice one’s personal motives that could potentially impede therapeutic motives