Abraham Maslow was a psychologist and professor of psychology who is noted for
developing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
He was a proponent of identifying the positive qualities in people
and treating patients holistically rather than as a set of symptoms.
The Biography of Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow was in Brooklyn,
New York on April 1, 1908 to uneducated Russian immigrants. His parents fled to
the US to escape persecution, but he found life difficult growing up because
he was often the brunt of racial hatred and ethnic prejudice. He didn't get
along well with his mother and had few friends. He was the oldest of seven
children and his parents pressured him to do well in school so he could be
successful in the new world they came to live in.
Maslow developed a love of
reading since he used the library to escape from his troubles, and he became a
Abraham Maslow studied law at City College of New York
and Cornell. After he married, he moved to Wisconsin and enrolled in a
university there to satisfy his curiosity in the field of psychology.
found psychology to be his passion and he pursued it in earnest. He worked with
notables in the field such as E. L. Thorndike and Harry Harlow. Eventually he
began teaching psychology and was a professor at Brandeis University, Columbia
University, and Brooklyn College. At that time, many European immigrants such as
Adler, Horney, Fromm, and Freudian and Gestalt psychologists, settled into the
area and Abraham Maslow was exposed to their ideas.
Abraham Maslow is
viewed as a pioneer in the field of psychology, and built the foundation upon
which other psychologists developed their theories and methods of treatment.
Maslow taught about personal development ideas and concepts such as peak
experiences, self-actualization, metaneeds, and metamotivation.
a career as a professor and important contributor to the field of psychology,
he moved to California to spend his retirement years. He was a
resident fellow at the Laughlin Institute during his semi-retirement. He died in
1970, at the age of 62, from a heart attack.
Abraham Maslow and the Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow presented his now famous hierarchy of needs in
1943 in a paper titled, 'A Theory of Human Motivation.' This
paper outlined the stages of personal development and
identified the patterns of growth that humans go through as:
Physiological Safety Belongingness and Love
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Abraham Maslow expanded
upon his personal development ideas and theories in
'Motivation and Personality', a book that was published in
He arrived at his conclusions by studying the
healthiest one percent of college students along with
accomplished individuals such as Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt,
Frederick Douglass, and Jane Adams. He felt sound
psychological principles could be established by studying sane
and mature individuals rather than studying the mentally ill.
The personal development ideas and hierarchy of needs
as conceived by Abraham Maslow are often depicted in pyramid
form, with the most basic needs for survival at the bottom,
and self-actualization at the top. Self-actualization is said
to be the ultimate goal of humans, it is the drive to express
the full realization of one's potential.
Maslow taught that
one level of needs must be met before an individual is
motivated to seek the needs of a higher level. He coined the
phrase metamotivation to describe people who are motivated to
go beyond their basic needs in order to achieve self
Abraham Maslow and the Five Patterns
Abraham Maslow felt it was important to
identify which stage of growth a person was in, so he could be
treated accordingly. A person struggling to meet basic needs
is focused on having his deficiencies met, while someone who
has attained self actualization is focused on fulfilling his
potential. Here is a closer look at the five stages of growth
as detailed by Abraham Maslow.
are the most basic and include things such as food, water, and
shelter. These are the things needed for the body to function.
Human survival depends upon having these needs met, and the
drive to meet them is strong.
are also an
important driving force as people take measures to stay safe
from war, natural disasters, and family violence. Job security
and financial concerns also fall into this category. Safety
includes personal safety, well being, and protection from
Love and belonging concerns become a driving
force once physiological and safety needs have been met.
Abraham Maslow taught that a feeling of belonging is a
fundamental human drive and people seek bonds through family,
work, gangs, social groups, and religion. The drive for
belonging is so strong it can even overpower the drive for
safety as evidenced in cases of family violence when the
abused person continues to cling to the abuser.
is a level above the need to belong. Strong self esteem is
important to good mental health. Humans naturally want to feel
valued by other people. Abraham Maslow identified two types of
esteem. One is obtained from the approval of others and the
other is obtained from the self. When one is deprived of
esteem, mental conditions such as anxiety, depression, and
feelings of worthlessness can develop.
Self actualization is the state of reaching one's full potential
and the drive behind all humans once other levels of needs
have been met. One can't strive for self actualization when he
struggles for food, water, or safety. In a self actualized
state, one has mastered his physiological needs and he has
relationships filled with love and esteem. Abraham Maslow
thought people at this stage experienced peak experiences
often while those at lower stages of growth rarely had such
intense joyful experiences. The drive towards self
actualization shows humans don't simply react to situations,
but strive to accomplish great things.
Development Ideas of Abraham Maslow Today
of Abraham Maslow have been taught in psychology classes for
decades and used in the practice of psychology. Some have
criticized Maslow's emphasis on self actualization and
importance of peak experiences as being too spiritual and
religious studies oriented. Others criticize that the patterns
of growth do not take into account the influence of different
types of cultures on human growth and development.
stages of human development that Abraham Maslow envisioned may
not present a full picture of human psychology as it has
evolved today, it nevertheless provides a solid foundation
from which other works can grow.
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