external image Abraham_Maslow.jpg"I was awfully curious to find out why I didn't go insane." - Abraham Maslow

Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 - June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist best known for his hierarchy of needs theory.
Interestingly, Maslow himself was classified as “mentally unstable” by a psychologist in his home city of Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in a family which had escaped Czarist Russia’s Jewish persecutions in the early 20th century. Maslow’s family was broken, bigoted and biased and so he set off on his own journey - beating the odds through education.

After attending the City College of New York, the University of Wisconsin, and Columbia University he became a member of the faculty at Brooklyn College. It was at his time here, during and after the horrors of World War II, that Maslow became interested in humanistic psychology - a study of the individual’s inherent drive towards self-actualization and creativity, through moral and ethical values, as a path for peace.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory encompasses the belief that self-actualization and creativity can only be reached when other psychological and physiological needs are met. He believed the human mind to reach this high order of thinking like stepping up on a ladder or scaling a pyramid. Thus, many pictorial representations of his hierarchy are of such models:

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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Tier 1). Physiological: shelter, food, water, sex, sleep, bodily comforts
Tier 2). Safety/Security: out of danger, enough resources, health, property, security of employment
Tier 3). Love/Belonging: friendship, family, romance, acceptance from others
Tier 4). Esteem: achievement, competence, gain of approval, recognition from others, respect to and of others, confidence

Maslow stated that the first four needs of this pyramid (Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging, and Esteem) are deficiency needs. These four needs do not cause people to feel anything if they are met but a person may become anxious, scared, or depressed if they are not.

Tier 5). Self-actualization: morality, creativity, problem solving, acceptance

In contrast, the fifth level - the top most rung of the ladder, or point of the pyramid, is a growth need as it allows a person to reach his or her highest potential - to self-actualize.

Later, Maslow revised his hierarchy and further divided the top tier into four separate parts to map the growth need of self-actualization.

Tier 5). Cognitive: knowing, understanding, exploring
Tier 6). Aesthetic: beauty, design, order, symmetry
Tier 7). Self-actualization: morality, creativity, problem solving, acceptance, self-fulfillment and realization of one’s potential
Tier 8). Self-transcendence: connect to something beyond ego, help others find self-fulfillment

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Though Maslow’s theory has been criticized for not having been thoroughly researched, lacking in empirical data, and culturally biased it is an intuitive and inclusive approach to mapping the route of western human psychological growth and development. Many psychologists have henceforth disassembled, rebuilt or reorganized his model to suit other psychological theories and classifications.

Maslow developed this theory to help enhance the overall percentage of people who could reach self-actualization and believed that by doing so peace would eventually find its way back into our world. He stressed focusing on people’s positive qualities instead of their symptoms and believed that humans, even if hidden deep inside somewhere, had morality, creativity, and acceptance waiting to reach fruition.

PBS People and Discoveries - Abraham Maslow
Psychology Today - Our Hierarchy Needs
Outdoor Leader Online
Educational Psychology Interactive - Maslow
Good Therapy - Humanistic Psychology
Wiki - Abraham Maslow

Chelsea Donovan