Abraham Moslow Essay, Research Paper
The theorist I chose was Maslow, he was born in 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the first of seven children born to his parents, Jewish immigrants from Russia. His parents, hoping for the best for their children in the New World, pushed him hard for academic success. He became the psychologist who many people consider the founder of a movement called humanistic psychology. The movement developed as a revolt against behaviorism and psychoanalysis, the two most popular psychological views of the mid- 1900’s. Humanistic psychologists believe individuals are controlled by their own values and choices and not by the environment, as behaviorists think, or by unconscious drives, as psychoanalyst believe. Maslow stressed the importance of studying well-adjusted people instead of just the disturbed ones.
Maslow’s contributions are many and diverse; perhaps his most famous is the hierarchy of needs. Beyond the details of air, water, food, and sex, he laid out five broader layers: the physiological needs, the needs for safety and security, the needs for love and belonging, the needs for esteem, and the need to actualize the self, in that order.
The physiological needs encompass specific biological requirements for water, oxygen, proteins, vitamins, proper body temperature, sleep, sex, exercise and so on. When the physiological needs are largely taken care of, the second layer of needs, the safety and security needs comes into play. We will become increasingly interested in finding safe circumstances, stability, and protection. We might develop a need for structure, for order, some limits. When physiological needs and safety needs are taken care of the third layer shows up, the love and belonging needs. We begin to feel the need for friends a companion, children and sense of community. Looked at negatively, we become increasingly susceptible to loneliness and social anxieties. In our day to day life we exhibit these needs in our desires to marry, have a family be a part of a community, a member of church, brother part of a fraternity, a part of a gang or a bowling club. It is also a part of what we look for in a career. The esteem needs. Next we begin to look for a little self-esteem. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, fame, glory, recognition, attention, reputation, appreciation, dignity, even dominance. The higher form involves the need for self-respect, including such feelings as confidence, competence, achievement, mastery, independence, and freedom. This is the “higher”
form because, unlike the respect of others, once we have self-respect, it is a much harder to lose.
The negative version of these needs is low self-esteem and weakness complexes. Maslow felt that Adler was onto something when he stated that these were at the roots of many, even of our psychological difficulties. In modern countries, many of us have what we need in regard to our physiological and safety needs. Sometimes we even have reasonable amount of love and sense of belonging. It is a respect that often seems hard to get!
The next four levels Maslow calls deficit needs, or D-needs. If you do not have an adequate amount of something it would make it a deficit .We feel the need, however if we obtain everything we need of, we feel nothing at all. In other terms, they cease to be motivating.
He also talks about these levels in terms of homeostasis. Maslow simply extends the homeostatic principle to needs, such as safety, belonging, and esteem that we do not normally think of in these conditions. Maslow sees all these needs essentially for survival. However love and esteem are needed for the maintenance of health. He says we all have these needs built in to us genetically like instincts. In fact, he calls them instinctual which are instinct like needs. In overall development, we go through these levels kind of like stages. As newborns, our focal point is on the physiological. Quickly, we begin to recognize that we need to be safe. After that we crave attention and affection. Later, we look for self-esteem. Under worrying conditions, or when survival is threatened we can “regress” to a lower need level. These things can happen on a society-wide basis as well.
When society unexpectedly struggles, people begin to look for a strong leader to make things right. Maslow suggested that we should ask people for their “philosophy of the future,” what would their ideal life be like and get significant information as to what needs they need to cover.
Self-actualization, the last level is different then the rest. Maslow used many terms to refer to this level. He has called it growth motivation being needs and self-actualization. These needs involve the continuous desire to fulfill potentials, to be the best that you can be. When lower needs are unmet, you can’t fully devote yourself to fulfilling your potential. Only a small percentage of the world’s population is predominantly, self-actualizing.
By self-actualization Maslow means people he called self-actualizers. He picked out a group of people, some historical figures, and some people he knew, whom he felt
clearly met the criteria of self-actualization. Some people that were in this group were people like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, William James, and others. He then looked at their work, from these sources; he developed a list of traits that seemed typical of these people, opposite to everyone else.
These people were reality-centered, which means they could tell the difference from what was fake and dishonest from what was real and genuine. They were problem-centered, meaning they treated life’s difficulties as problems demanding solutions. They had a different perception of means and ends. They felt that the ends don’t necessarily justify the means, the means could be ends themselves, and that the means, the journey
was more important than the ends.
The self-actualizers also relate different to others. They have a need for privacy, and are comfortable being alone. They are relatively independent of culture and environment, relying instead on their own experiences and judgments. They resist enculturation, they are not susceptible to social pressure they are, nonconformists. According to Maslow they have democratic values, meaning that they were open to ethnic and individual variety even treasuring it. They have social interest, compassion, and humanity. They enjoy intimate personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.
These people have an un-hostile sense of humor they prefer to joke at their own expense, or at the human condition, and never direct their humor at others. They have a quality Maslow called acceptance of self and others, by which he meant that these people are more likely to take you as you are than, try to change you into what they think you should be. This same acceptance applies to their attitudes towards themselves: If some quality of theirs wasn’t harmful, they let it be. Along with this comes spontaneity and simplicity: They prefer being themselves rather than being pretentious or false. Maslow found that they tend to be conventional on the surface, just where less self-actualizing nonconformists tend to be the most dramatic.
These people have a certain freshness of appreciation, an ability to see things, even ordinary things, with wonder. Along with this comes their ability to be creative, inventive, and original. Finally, these people tend to have more peak experiences than
the average person does. A peak experience is one that takes us out of ourselves that makes us feel very small, or very large, to some extent one with life, nature or God. It gives us a feeling of being a part of the infinite and the eternal. These experiences tend to leave their mark on a person, change them for the better, and many people actively seek them out. They are also called mystical experiences, and are an important part of many religious and philosophical traditions.
Maslow doesn’t think that self-actualizers are perfect, of course. There were several flaws he discovered along the way as well: First, they often suffered considerable anxiety and guilt, but realistic anxiety and guilt, rather than misplaced or neurotic versions. Some of them were absentminded and overly kind. Some of them had unexpected moments of ruthlessness, coldness, and loss of humor.
Metaneeds and metapathologies
Maslow also approach the problem of what self-actualization is to talk about the special, driving needs (B-needs, of course) of the self-actualizers. They need the following in their lives in order to be happy:
Truth, rather than dishonesty.
Goodness, rather than evil.
Beauty, not ugliness or vulgarity.
Unity, wholeness, and transcendence of opposites, not arbitrariness or forced choices.
Aliveness, not deadness or the mechanization of life.
Uniqueness, not bland uniformity.
Perfection and necessity, not sloppiness, inconsistency, or accident.
Completion, rather than incompleteness.
Justice and order, not injustice and lawlessness.
Simplicity, not unnecessary complexity.
Richness, not environmental impoverishment.
Effortlessness, not strain.
Playfulness, not grim, humorless, drudgery.
Self-sufficiency, not dependency.
Meaningfulness, rather than senselessness.
Maslow believes that much of the what is wrong with the world comes down to
the fact that very few people really are interested in these values — not because they are bad people, but because they haven’t even had their basic needs taken care of. When a self-actualizer doesn’t get these needs fulfilled, they respond with metapathologies; a list of problems as long as the list of metaneeds. He summarized it by saying that, when forced to live without these values, the self-actualizer develops depression, despair,
disgust, alienation, and a degree of cynicism.
Maslow hoped that his efforts at describing the self-actualizing person would eventually lead to a “periodic table” of the kinds of qualities, problems, pathologies, and even solutions characteristic of higher levels of human potential. Over time, he devoted increasing attention, not to his own theory, but to humanistic psychology and the human potential movement.
Toward the end of his life, he inaugurated what he called the fourth force in psychology: Freudian and other “depth” psychologies constituted the first force; Behaviorism was the second force; His own humanism, including the European existentialists, was the third force. The fourth force was the transpersonal psychologies which, taking their cue from eastern philosophies, investigated such things as meditation, and higher levels of consciousness and even Para psychological phenomena.
With the research that I have done on Maslow I place myself within his theories as far as my life goes. I have seen that I can’t move on to higher levels until I see the lower ones met. When achieved I feel empowered or strength with a sense of accomplishment and ready to attack the next level. I see it as climbing a ladder filled with experiences that in turn help me to guide my own children in speeding their own process to achieve this hierarchy of needs. I find Moslows’ theories very inspiring, they have helped me to be more open and more understanding of those around me whom I saw as unkind people. In reality they are just in their way in achieving this process of the hierarchy of needs. Sometimes in this process we can feel frustrated in having experienced a sense of ecstasy and now faced with even a greater challenge in the beginning of a new level. Just as Maslow’s parents were uneducated immigrants from Russia, my own parents were immigrants from Mexico who themselves did not have an opportunity for an education. Maslow’s parents pushed him hard in his studies and of course he himself falls as a self-actualizer. He has contributed this knowledge to the world which is available to me and anyone else and with the greatest gift my parents have given me; a love for education, I hope to at least touch some one’s life with this gift my parents have made available to me.
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