Maslow had a lot going for him. It’s a pity his view on psychology didn’t prevail over the reductionists. I would change his “hierarchy of needs” to “hierarchy of perceived needs.” It is not possible to consider the needs of the individual without considering the environment. The “shortcuts” must be valid. IE the top down and bottom up must be “not inconsistent” with relation to the environment (family, society etc). Psychology, in general, treats the individual as being in a vacuum. The source force of the problem, rather than a balance between the individual and society. This is a three way balancing act: top down, bottom up and social interface. Also: it is not generally recognized that psychology is very ethnocentric, individual and situational. There is no solid ground to stand on from the outside. To find solid ground, it is necessary to get in the persons skull, and observe the problem from his point of view. Find out where he/she’s coming from. “Rufus May” is right on in this respect.
Maslowian self-actualization If you have significant problems along your development — a period of extreme insecurity or hunger as a child, or the loss of a family member through death or divorce, or significant neglect or abuse — you may “fixate” on that set of needs for the rest of your life. –
“fixate” isn’t the right word. As pointed out in the “Asperta Supra” paper, epigenetics will come center stage to the arena of mental “health” – walt http://cogprints.org/6658/1/mdis12a.pdf
It isn’t surprising, then, the world being as difficult as it is, that only a small percentage of the world’s population is truly, predominantly, self-actualizing. Maslow at one point suggested only about two percent!
These people were reality-centered, which means they could differentiate what is fake and dishonest from what is real and genuine. They were problem-centered, meaning they treated life’s difficulties as problems demanding solutions, not as personal troubles to be railed at or surrendered to. And they had a different perception of means and ends. They felt that the ends don’t necessarily justify the means, that the means could be ends themselves, and that the means — the journey — was often more important than the ends.
The self-actualize rs also had a different way of relating to others. First, they enjoyed solitude, and were comfortable being alone. And they enjoyed deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.
They enjoyed autonomy, a relative independence from physical and social needs. And they resisted enculturation, that is, they were not susceptible to social pressure to be “well adjusted” or to “fit in” — they were, in fact, nonconformists in the best sense.
They had an hostile sense of humor — preferring to joke at their own expense, or at the human condition, and never directing their humor at others. They had a quality he called acceptance of self and others, by which he meant that these people would be more likely to take you as you are than try to change you into what they thought you should be. This same acceptance applied to their attitudes towards themselves: If some quality of theirs wasn’t harmful, they let it be, even enjoying it as a personal quirk. On the other hand, they were often strongly motivated to change negative qualities in themselves that could be changed. Along with this comes spontaneity and simplicity: They preferred being themselves rather than being pretentious or artificial. In fact, for all their nonconformity, he found that they tended to be conventional on the surface, just where less self-actualizing nonconformists tend to be the most dramatic.
Further, they had a sense of humility and respect towards others — something Maslow also called democratic values — meaning that they were open to ethnic and individual variety, even treasuring it. They had a quality Maslow called human kinship or Gemeinschaftsgefühl — social interest, compassion, humanity. And this was accompanied by a strong ethics, which was spiritual but seldom conventionally religious in nature.
And these people had 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. And, finally, these people tended to have more peak experiences than the average person. A peak experience is one that takes you out of yourself, that makes you feel very tiny, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God. It gives you 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 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 potentials 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, were the third force. The fourth force was the transpersonal psychologies which, taking their cue from Eastern philosophies, investigated such things as meditation, higher levels of consciousness, and even parapsychological phenomena. Perhaps the best known transpersonalist today is Ken Wilber, author of such books as The Atman Project and The History of Everything.
We also have the example of a number of people who were creative in some fashion even while in concentration camps. Trachtenberg, for example, developed a new way of doing arithmetic in a camp. Viktor Frankl developed his approach to therapy while in a camp. There are many more examples.
These are needs that do not involve balance or homeostasis. Once engaged, they continue to be felt. In fact, they are likely to become stronger as we “feed” them! They involve the continuous desire to fulfill potentials, to “be all that you can be.” They are a matter of becoming the most complete, the fullest, “you” — hence the term, self-actualization.
Ken Wilber was born on January 31, 1949 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1967, he enrolled as a pre-med student at Duke University, and was almost immediately disillusioned with what science had to offer. He became inspired, like many of his generation, by Eastern literature, particularly the Tao Te Ching. He left Duke, enrolled in the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and completed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology. In 1973, Wilber completed his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, in which he sought to integrate knowledge from disparate fields.
I like him already – walt
What no one can see is that we are in a post renaissance mindset. We need a renaissance II ie check out the observations, validate with experiment and THEN formulate a theory. – TPL walt