The Contribution of Abraham Maslow to Psychology

4:52 AM Amer Bekic 0 Comments

The science of Psychology before Maslow


Heavy theory. Skip ahead to These are the basic concepts of Humanistic Psychology if you are mainly interested in practical application.
Before the maturation of Humanistic Psychology in the mid-late 50s, Psychology was dominated by two dominant but incomplete schools of thought, neither of which focused upon humans as individuals.
Freud and Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud was the first man to rise to prominence in what is considered the modern era of Psychology. He built up an incredibly detailed model, virtually all of which has proven to be objectively wrong, yet in many ways lives on in popular culture today. Freud focused on the inner or spiritual workings of the mind; difficult to objectively observe and confirm. He believed that events and circumstances in childhood were rigidly formative and predictive, and that the content of dreams was significant and had universal meaning among all humans.

People today refer to themselves or others as "Anal," which is a reference to Freud's category of anal retentive, as opposed to anal expulsive, meaning a person's bowel habits as a young child were predictive of their personality traits as an adult. Penis Envy and Oedipus complex are other ghosts of Freudian thought that we still encounter.

Behaviorism In contrast to Freud who focused on the untestable inner workings of the mind, scientists such as Pavlov and Skinner focused on the observable behavior of humans and other organisms. While this brought the science of Psychology up to the modern standard of observable, testable factors, it rather limited itself to these alone, completely neglecting less-quantifiable yet totally relevant and necessary aspects of the mind and the individual.

This resulted in a bias overemphasizing the importance of the external environment on the development and behavior of people, rather than the unique state of existence and development plus future potential of each individual. To some extent, this shaped the conformist zeitgeist of the 1950s, an era many readers idealize without fully understanding how oppressive it was to the individual who dared take his own path just one step away from the herd.

Over-reliance upon a single tool or focus to understand a complex subject such as human behavior is sometimes referred to as Maslow's Hammer, which is popularly stated as, "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Science needed a way to integrate the observable/testable aspects of human behavior with the less-testable inner workings of the mind at the individual level.

The maturation of Humanistic Psychology


Building upon works begun in the 1920s, Maslow is the most recognized as carrying the science to its maturity in the mid-late 1950s. Most of Psychology was driven by the necessity of curing the sick and therefore focused on the broken, bad, and wrong aspects of humanity. Maslow recognized the need to complete mankind's understanding of itself by filling in the knowledge base of the healthy and exceptional end of human potential.

These are the basic concepts of Humanistic Psychology.

  • Someone's present functioning is their most significant aspect. As a result, humanists emphasize the here and now instead of examining the past or attempting to predict the future.
  • To be mentally healthy, individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions, regardless of whether the actions are positive or negative. "Own your s@it" is practically a mantra in the Manosphere. Hypoagency is one of our least admired traits.
  • Each person, simply by being, is inherently worthy. While any given action may be negative, these actions do not cancel out the value of a person. An area I feel might collectively improve upon. Betas and omegas might suck in their present state, but they too have the latent potential to improve upon their current state of being. Viewing them as little brothers instead of mortal enemies has greater potential to help uplift them effortlessly.
  • The ultimate goal of living is to attain personal growth and understanding. Only through constant self-improvement and self-understanding can an individual ever be truly happy. This is the very quintessense.

The hierarchy of human needs


This is Maslow's most enduring contribution to human self-knowledge, known to every psychology 101 and rigorous self-improvement student. It posits the existence of a hierarchy of human needs, each level of which must be generally (not necessarily rigidly Maslow emphasized) satisfied, before a higher level need becomes salient and striven toward.
  • Basic needs or Physiological needs of a human being: food, water, sleep, s@x, homeostasis, and excretion

  • Safety Needs Security, Order, and Stability". These two steps are important to the physical survival of the person. Once individuals have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, they attempt to accomplish more

  • Love and Belonging Psychological needs; when individuals have taken care of themselves physically, they are ready to share themselves with others, such as with family and friends

  • Esteem needs When individuals feel comfortable with what they have accomplished. The need to be competent and recognized, such as through status and level of success.

  • Cognitive" level Individuals intellectually stimulate themselves and explore

  • Aesthetic" level The need for harmony, order and beauty

  • At the top of the pyramid, Need for Self-actualization occurs when individuals reach a state of harmony and understanding because they are engaged in achieving their full potential. Once a person has reached the self-actualization state they focus on themselves and try to build their own image. They may look at this in terms of feelings such as self-confidence or by accomplishing a set goal

Study of fully actualized individuals


Maslow made it his life work to study extraordinarily healthy and accomplished individuals. He also incorporated biographical information about great men of history. From this, he compiled a number of common characteristics he observed within this elite group of men.

  • Efficient perceptions of reality. Self-actualizers are able to judge situations correctly and honestly. They are very sensitive to the fake and dishonest, and are free to see reality 'as it is'.

  • Comfortable acceptance of self, others and nature. Self-actualizers accept their own human nature with all its flaws. The shortcomings of others and the contradictions of the human condition are accepted with humor and tolerance.

  • Reliant on own experiences and judgement. Independent, not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions and views.

  • Spontaneous and natural. True to oneself, rather than being how others want.

  • Task centering. Most of Maslow's subjects had a mission to fulfill in life or some task or problem 'beyond' themselves (instead of outside of themselves) to pursue. Humanitarians such as Albert Schweitzer are considered to have possessed this quality.

  • Autonomy. Self-actualizers are free from reliance on external authorities or other people. They tend to be resourceful and independent.

  • Continued freshness of appreciation. The self-actualizer seems to constantly renew appreciation of life's basic goods. A sunset or a flower will be experienced as intensely time after time as it was at first. There is an "innocence of vision", like that of an artist or child.

  • Profound interpersonal relationships. The interpersonal relationships of self-actualizers are marked by deep loving bonds.

  • Comfort with solitude. Despite their satisfying relationships with others, self-actualizing people value solitude and are comfortable being alone.

  • Non-hostile sense of humor. This refers to the ability to laugh at oneself.

  • Peak experiences. All of Maslow's subjects reported the frequent occurrence of peak experiences (temporary moments of self-actualization). These occasions were marked by feelings of ecstasy, harmony, and deep meaning. Self-actualizers reported feeling at one with the universe, stronger and calmer than ever before, filled with light, beauty, goodness, and so forth.

  • Socially compassionate. Possessing humanity.

  • Few friends. Few close intimate friends rather than many superficial relationships.

Maslow in modern Psychology


Maslow's work sometimes gets considered obsolete to modern Psychology, because his methodology including use of biographical information, does not meet the current standards of scientific rigor. His contributions enjoy wide recognition and respect, and his concepts and tools still commonly find a place in self-improvement contexts with great effect.