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Abraham Maslow – father of humanistic psychology
Self-actualisation, the hierarchy of needs and peak experiences
Maslow's Hierarchy of needs (or pyramid of needs)
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"the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming."
Examples of self-actualisers
Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, William James,
Benedict Spinoza, Ruth Benedict, MaxWertheimer
(Typical) Characteristics of self-actualisers
1. Perceive reality accurately
2. Accept themselves, others, and nature.
3. Spontaneous & natural - like simple things
4. Problem-centred - have a sense of mission to which they dedicate their lives.
5. Like privacy & detachment.
6. Have a freshness of appreciation.
7. Have Peak Experiences.
8. Are compassionate and humane
9. Have profound interpersonal relationships
10. Democratic character structure.
12. Are their own people; Resist enculturation
13. Philosophical sense of humour
14. Motivated by "Being (B) Needs" rather than Deficiency Needs
"Feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision, the feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before, the feeling of ecstasy and wonder and awe, the loss of placement in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject was to some extent transformed and strengthened even in his daily life by such experiences." Abraham Maslow
Read more .....
How to be a self-actualiser
Ensure that your basic needs are satisfied
Become aware of inner self and listen to own inner-feeling voice
Transcend your own cultural conditioning, and become a world citizens.
Discover your vocation in life - especially career and partner.
Be open to seeing the good and joyous in all kinds of situations
Self-actualisation - Evaluation
Very influential (management, education, also many find it personally inspiring).
Maslow's SA not a recipe for selfishness (SA's are moral people)
Methodologically dubious (circular, relies on Maslow's intuitions)
Do we have a core self to be actualised ("acorn" theory controversial
Is self-actualisation actually the highest value ? (why should it take precedence over other needs)
Is it culturally specific ? (middle-class Americans)
On method, Freud and Behaviourism
"Freud put these medical spectacles on our nose. It's time to take them off".
"It was the beautiful program of Watson that brought me into psychology. But its fatal flaw is that it's good for the lab and in the lab, but you put it on and take it off like a lab coat..."
"The study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy" (Motivation and Personality).
"If we want to know the possibilities for spiritual growth, value growth, of moral development in human beings, then I maintain that we can learn most by studying our most moral, ethical, or saintly people".
"If you only have a hammer then you treat everything like a nail".
"The highest possibilities of human nature have practically always been underestimated" (FRHN, 1971)
"I wanted to make science consider all the problems that non-scientists have been handling - religion, poetry, values, philosophy and art. I went about it by trying to understand great people, the best specimens of mankind I could find".
On the Hierarchy of Needs
"It is quite true that man lives by bread alone - where there is no bread. But what happens to man's desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled ? At once other (and "higher") needs emerge, and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and still "higher") needs emerge, and so on. This is what we mean by saying that the basic human needs are organised into a hierarchy of relative prepotency"
"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write., if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualisation ... It refers to man's desire for self-fulfilment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualised in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming".
"There seems no intrinsic reason why everyone shouldn't be (self-actualising). Apparently every baby has possibilities for self-actualisation, but most get it knocked out of them ...I think of the self-actualising man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away."
"One cannot choose wisely for a life unless he dares to listen to himself, his own self, at each moment in life" (FRHN, 1971)
"The power of the peak experience could permanently affect one's attitude toward life. A single glimpse of heaven is enough to confirm its existence even if it is never experienced again. It is my strong suspicion that one such experience might be able to prevent suicide, for instance, and perhaps ... alcoholism, drug-addiction and addiction to violence."
Humanistic versus Transpersonal Psychology
"The Third Force is like Sweden, Norway and Denmark, where God died and there is no god, where everything is sensible, rational, commonsensical, logical, empirical but not yet transcendent. You can admire and respect Scandinavia, but you can't love it, but less worship it ! Everything that has a good, mundane, this-worldly, reasonable ... intelligence could do has been done there. But it's not enough ! (1965)
1908 Born April 1, in New York, the first of seven children born to uneducated & poor Jewish immigrants from Russia
1928 Marries his cousin, Bertha - they are to have a happy and lifelong marriage & 2 daughters
Studies psychology (up to PhD level) at Wisconsin.
Researches monkey behaviour with Harry Harlow.
1935 Research assistant to Thorndike in New York. Maslow became interested in research on human sexuality.
1936 Begins teaching full time at Brooklyn College.
Meets many newly immigrant European intellectuals
e.g. Adler, Fromm, Horney.
1951 Heads psychology department at Brandeis
1954 Motivation and Personality published
1962 Founds Association for Humanistic Psychology (with Rogers, May etc).
Visiting fellow at Non-Linear Systems, California
Towards a Psychology of Being published
Becomes involved in Esalen Institute, California
1967 Elected President of American Psychological Association
1970 Died of a heart attack after years of ill health.
1971 The Farther Reaches of Human Nature published posthumously
1983 Esquire magazine choose Maslow as the most important US psychologist of last 50 years.
Assessment of Maslow's theories
"Maslow has done more to change our view of human nature and human possibilities than any other American psychologist of the past fifty years" (Leonard,1983).
"Maslow has opened up a new way of seeing the universe". (Colin Wilson,1972).
"What Maslow offered in self-actualisation was not just a psychological fact but a full-blown vision of human nature". (Lowry)
"(Maslow was) The father of humanistic psychology" (Peter Drucker)
Maslow recommended reading - Maslow's books
Personality, 3rd Ed. New
York: Harper & Row, 1987
The Farther Reaches of Human Penguin Books, 1976
Toward a Psychology of Being, 3rd Ed. New York:Wiley, 1998
Maslow on Management New York:Wiley, 1998
Religions, values and peak-experiences Penguin, 1986
Best books about Maslow
The Right to be Human, A Biography of Abraham Maslow Edward Hoffman McGraw-Hill, 1988 - especially recommended
New Pathways in
Colin Wilson New American Library 1972
An Introduction to Theories of Personality B.R. Hergenhan Prentice Hall. This contains a good chapter on Maslow. Maslow's theories are also discussed in virtually every introductory textbook on psychology and management
Best Maslow links
How Maslow can help you go up the pyramid of needs, be self-actualised and have peak experiences
Hierarchy of needs
1) Implications of the hierarchy
If the theory is true, what are the implications for
i) human nature
2) Self-awareness based on the hierarchy of needs
Where are you in the hierarchy right now ? (out of 100% for each need)
3) Does the hierarchy of needs apply to you ?
Think of a specific time in your life when one of the needs was not met
(e.g. you were hungry, did not feel safe, did not belong or felt a lack of esteem)
i) Was it true that this lack stopped you fulfilling 'higher' needs ?
ii) What helped you move on ?
4) Is the hierarchy of Needs complete ?
Are there any needs not covered in the hierarchy that should be ?
5)a) Think of a person you know, either personally, or because they are a public figure, who seem to you to be fully-functioning, healthy people, self-fulfilled What are they like ?
b) Now try to categorise them in terms of Maslow's features of self-actualised people. Do they fit ?
c) In what ways are you self-actualised ? How could you be more self-actualised?
6) Describe a peak experience in your life
7) What could you do to have more peak experiences ?
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