Abraham Maslow

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Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist. He is noted for his conceptualization of a "hierarchy of human needs", and is considered the father of humanistic psychology. [1]

Biography

Maslow was born and raised in Brooklyn, the eldest of seven children. His parents were uneducated Jewish immigrant] from Russia. He was slow but tidy, and remembered his childhood as lonely and rather unhappy, because, as he said, "I was the little Jewish boy in the non-Jewish neighborhood. It was a little like being the first Negro enrolled in the all-white school. I was isolated and unhappy. I grew up in libraries and among books, without friends."[2]

Maslow first studied law at the City College of New York (CCNY). His father hoped he would pursue law, but he went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin to study psychology. While there, he married his cousin Bertha, and found as his chief mentor, professor Harry Harlow. At Wisconsin he pursued an original line of research, investigating primate dominance behavior and sexuality. He went on to further research at Columbia University, continuing similar studies; there he found another mentor in Alfred Adler, one of Sigmund Freud's early followers.

From 1937 to 1951, Maslow was on the faculty of Brooklyn College. In New York he found two more mentors, anthropologist Ruth Benedict and Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer, whom he admired both professionally and personally. These two were so accomplished in both realms, and such "wonderful human beings" as well, that Maslow began taking notes about them and their behavior. This would be the basis of his lifelong research and thinking about mental health and human potential. He wrote extensively on the subject, borrowing ideas from other psychologists but adding significantly to them, especially the concepts of a hierarchy of needs, meta-needs, self-actualizing persons, and peak experiences. Maslow became the leader of the humanistic school of psychology that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, which he referred to as the "third force" -- beyond psychoanalysis and behaviorism.

Maslow saw human beings' needs arranged like a ladder. The most basic needs, at the bottom, were physical -- air, water, food, sleep. Then came safety needs -- security, stability -- followed by psychological, or social needs -- for belonging, love, acceptance. At the top of it all were the self-actualizing needs -- the need to fulfill oneself, to become all that one is capable of becoming. Maslow felt that unfulfilled needs lower on the ladder would inhibit the person from climbing to the next step. Someone dying of thirst quickly forgets their thirst when they have no oxygen, as he pointed out. People who dealt in managing the higher needs were what he called self-actualizing people. Benedict and Wertheimer were Maslow's models of self-actualization, from which he generalized that, among other characteristics, self-actualizing people tend to focus on problems outside of themselves, have a clear sense of what is true and what is phony, are spontaneous and creative, and are not bound too strictly by social conventions.

Peak experiences are profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture, when a person feels more whole, alive, self-sufficient and yet a part of the world, more aware of truth, justice, harmony, goodness, and so on. Self-actualizing people have many such peak experiences.

Maslow's thinking was surprisingly original -- most psychology before him had been concerned with the abnormal and the ill. He wanted to know what constituted positive mental health. Humanistic psychology gave rise to several different therapies, all guided by the idea that people possess the inner resources for growth and healing and that the point of therapy is to help remove obstacles to individuals' achieving this. The most famous of these was client-centered therapy developed by Carl Rogers.

In 1967, the American Humanist Association named him Humanist of the Year.

Maslow was a professor at Brandeis University from 1951 to 1969, and then became a resident fellow of the Laughlin Institute in California. He died of a heart attack on June 8, 1970.

Bibliography

  • A Theory of Human Motivation (originally published in Psychological Review, 1943, Vol. 50 #4, pp. 370-396).
  • Motivation and Personality (1st edition: 1954, 2nd edition: 1970)
  • Religions, Values and Peak-experiences, Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1964.
  • Eupsychian Management, 1965; republished as Maslow on Management, 1998
  • The Psychology of Science: A Reconnaissance, New York: Harper & Row, 1966; Chapel Hill: Maurice Bassett, 2002.
  • Toward a Psychology of Being, (2nd edition, 1968)
  • The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, 1971

See also

Further reading

  • Wilson, Colin (1972) New Pathways in Psychology: Maslow and the post-Freudian revolution. London: Victor Gollancz (ISBN 0-575-01355-9)
  • Wahba, M.A. & Bridwell, L. G. (1976). Maslow Reconsidered: A Review of Research on the Need Hierarchy Theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 15, 212-240
  • Mook, D.G. (1987). Motivation: The Organization of Action. London: W.W. Norton & Company Ltd (ISBN 0-393-95474-9)
  • Nicholson, I. (2001). Giving Up Maleness: Abraham Maslow, Masculinity, and the Boundaries of Psychology. History of Psychology, 2, 79-91
  • Situating Maslow in Cold War America, by Cooke B, Mills A and Kelley E in Group and Organization Management, (2005) Vol. 30, No. 2, 129-152
  • The Right to be Human: a biography of Abraham Maslow, by Edward Hoffman (ISBN 0-07-134-267-2)
  • The Founders of Humanistic Psychology by Roy Jose DeCarvalho

External links