Abraham Harold Maslow was born April 1, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the first of seven children born to his parents, who themselves were uneducated
Jewish immigrants from Russia (adapted from the Webspace.ship.edu website. His parents, hoping for the best for their children
in the new world, pushed him hard for academic success. Not surprisingly, he became very lonely as a boy, and found his refuge in books.
To satisfy his parents, he first studied law at the City College of New York (CCNY). After three semesters, he transferred to Cornell, and then back to CCNY. He married Bertha Goodman, his first cousin, against his parents wishes. Abe
and Bertha went on to have two daughters.
He and Bertha moved to Wisconsin so that he could attend the University of Wisconsin. Here, he became interested in psychology, and his school work began to improve dramatically. He spent time there working with Harry Harlow, who is
famous for his experiments with baby rhesus monkeys and attachment behavior.
He received his BA in 1930, his MA in 1931, and his PhD in 1934, all in psychology, all from the University of Wisconsin. A year after graduation, he returned to New York to work with E. L. Thorndike at Columbia, where Maslow became
interested in research on human sexuality.
He began teaching full time at Brooklyn College. During this period of his life, he came into contact with the many European intellectuals that were immigrating to the US, and Brooklyn in particular, at that time -- people like Adler,
Fromm, Horney, as well as several Gestalt and Freudian psychologists.
Maslow served as the chair of the psychology department at Brandeis from 1951 to 1969. While there he met Kurt Goldstein, who had originated the idea of self-actualization in his famous book, The Organism (1934). It was also here that
he began his crusade for a humanistic psychology -- something ultimately much more important to him than his own theorizing.
He spent his final years in semi-retirement in California, until, on June 8 1970, he died of a heart attack after years of ill health.
The following has been adapted from the Wikipedia: Abraham Maslow website.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology that Abraham Maslow proposed in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation, which he subsequently extended to include his observations of man's innate curiosity. His theory contends that as humans
meet 'basic needs', they seek to satisfy successively 'higher needs' that occupy a set hierarchy. Maslow studied exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglass rather than mentally ill or neurotic people,
writing that "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy."
Maslow's hierarchy of needs can be represented as a pyramid with the more primitive needs at the bottom. The four lower levels are grouped together as deficiency needs associated with physiological needs, while the top level is termed growth needs
associated with psychological needs. While deficiency needs must be met, growth needs are continually shaping behavior. The basic concept is that the higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus once all the needs that are lower down in the pyramid
are mainly or entirely satisfied. Growth forces create upward movement in the hierarchy, whereas regressive forces push prepotent needs further down the hierarchy.
The physiological needs of the organism, those enabling homeostasis, take first precedence. These consist mainly of:
the need to breathe
the need to drink water
the need to regulate homeostasis
the need to eat
the need to dispose of bodily wastes
If some needs are not fulfilled, a human's physiological needs take the highest priority. Physiological needs can control thoughts and behaviors, and can cause people to feel sickness, pain, and discomfort. Maslow also places sexual
activity in this category as bodily comfort, activity, exercise, etc. While several of these activities are important, many are not essential to survive.
When physiological needs are met, the need for safety will emerge. Safety and security rank above all other desires. These include:
Physical security - safety from violence, delinquency, aggressions
Security of employment
Security of revenues and resources
Moral and physiological security
Security of health
Security of personal property against crime
Sometimes the desire for safety outweighs the requirement to satisfy physiological needs completely.
After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third layer of human needs is social. This involves emotionally-based relationships in general, such as:
having a supportive and communicative family
Humans generally need to feel belonging and acceptance, whether it comes from a large social group (clubs, office culture, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, gangs) or small social connections (family members,
intimate partners, mentors, close colleagues, confidants). They need to love and be loved (sexually and non-sexually) by others. In the absence of these elements, many people become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and depression. This need
for belonging can often overcome the physiological and security needs, depending on the strength of the peer pressure. i.e. an anorexic ignores the need to eat and the security of health for a feeling of belonging.
According to Maslow, all humans have a need to be respected, to have self-respect, and to respect others. People need to engage themselves in order to gain recognition and have an activity or activities that give the person a sense of contribution and
self-value, be it in a profession or hobby. Imbalances at this level can result in low self-esteem, inferiority complexes, an inflated sense of self-importance or snobbishness. There are two levels to Esteem needs. The lower of the levels relates to elements
like fame, respect, and glory. The higher level is contingent to concepts like confidence, competence, and achievement. The lower level is generally considered poor. It is dependent upon other people, or someone who needs to be reassured because of lower
esteem. People with low esteem need respect from others. They may seek fame or glory, which again are dependent on others. However confidence, competence and achievement only need one person and everyone else is inconsequential to one's own success. (Steven
Covey has written extensively on this subject.)
Maslow believed that humans had the need to increase their intelligence and thereby chase knowledge. Cognitive needs is the expression of the natural human need to learn, explore, discover, create, and perhaps even dissect in order to get a better understanding
of the world around them.
Based on Maslow's beliefs, it is stated in the hierarchy that humans need beautiful imagery or something new and aesthetically pleasing in order to continue up towards Self-Actualization. Humans need to refresh themselves in the presence and beauty of
nature while carefully absorbing and observing their surroundings to extract the beauty that the world has to offer.
Though the deficiency needs may be seen as "basic", and can be met and neutralized (i.e. they stop being motivators in one's life), self-actualization and transcendence are "being" or "growth needs" (also termed "B-needs"),
i.e. they are enduring motivations or drivers of behavior.
Self-actualization is the instinctual need of humans to make the most of their abilities and to strive to be the best they can.
Self Actualization is the intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately, of what the organism is. Maslow writes the following of self-actualizing people:
They embrace the facts and realities of the world (including themselves) rather than denying or avoiding them.
They are spontaneous in their ideas and actions.
They are creative.
They are interested in solving problems; this often includes the problems of others. Solving these problems is often a key focus in their lives.
They feel a closeness to other people, and generally appreciate life.
They have a system of morality that is fully internalized and independent of external authority.
They judge others without prejudice, in a way that can be termed objective.
In short, self-actualization is reaching one's fullest potential.
At the top of the triangle, self-transcendence is also sometimes referred to as spiritual needs.
Maslow believes that we should study and cultivate peak experiences as a way of providing a route to achieve personal growth, integration, and fulfillment. Peak experiences are unifying, and ego-transcending, bringing a sense of purpose
to the individual and a sense of integration. Individuals most likely to have peak experiences are self-actualized, mature, healthy, and self-fulfilled. All individuals are capable of peak experiences. Those who do not have them somehow depress or deny
them. Maslow originally found the occurrence of peak experiences in individuals who were self-actualized, but later found that peak experiences happened to non-actualizers as well but not as often.
In 1969, Abraham Maslow, Stanislav Grof and Anthony Sutich were the initiators behind the publication of the first issue of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology
While Maslow's theory was regarded as an improvement over previous theories of personality and motivation, it has its detractors. For example, in their extensive review of research that is dependent on Maslow's theory, Wahba and Bridwell (1976) found
little evidence for the ranking of needs that Maslow described, or even for the existence of a definite hierarchy at all. For example, less individualistic forms of society than described by Maslow in this theory, might value their social relationships
(e.g. family, clan or group) higher than their own physiological needs.
The concept of self-actualization is considered vague and psychobabble by some behaviorist psychologists. The concept is based on an Aristotelian notion of human nature that assumes we have an optimum role or purpose.
Self actualization is a difficult construct for researchers to operationalize, and this in turn makes it difficult to test Maslow's theory. Even if self-actualization is a useful concept, there is no proof that every individual has this capacity or even
the goal to achieve it.
Transcendence has been discounted by secular psychologists because they feel it belongs to the domain of religious belief. But Maslow himself believed that science and religion were both too narrowly conceived, too dichotomized, and
too separated from each other. Non-peakers, as he would call them, characteristically think in logical, rational terms and look down on extreme spirituality as "insanity"
because it entails a loss of control and deviation from what is socially acceptable. They may even try to avoid such experiences because they are not materially productive—they "earn no money, bake no bread, and chop no wood". Other
non-peakers have the problem of immaturity in spiritual matters, and hence tend to view holy rituals and events in their most crude, external form, not appreciating them for any underlying spiritual implications. Maslow despised such people because they
form a sort of idolatry that hinders religions.
This creates a divide in every religion and social institution. (Maslow.
"The 'Core-Religious' or 'Transcendent,' Experience.") It is important to note, however, that Maslow considered himself to be an atheist--thus, by his conceptualization of transcendence, any individual can have such experiences.