30-Second Psychology: The 50 Most Thought-provoking Psychology Theories, Each Explained in Half a Minute - Christian Jarrett 2011
Maslow’s humanistic psychology
Abraham Maslow trained as an experimental psychologist but became disillusioned with defining human nature through lab experiments and was dissatisfied with the Freudian alternative. Instead of seeing humans as the passive recipients of experience or slaves to unconscious drives, Maslow saw us as motivated by an ultimate need to become fulfilled and ’self-actualized’, where we are at peace with ourselves and others and have the psychological freedom ’to become everything that one is capable of becoming’. Humanistic psychology grew from this inspiration and placed subjective lived experience, rather than the unconscious mind, at the centre of human nature. Many psychotherapists pursued these ideas, most notably Carl Rogers, who based ’client-centred therapy’ on the principles of genuineness and acceptance of a person’s basic worth. Although Maslow was sometimes uncomfortable with how his approach was adopted by the 1960s counter-culture, leading to everything from love-ins to nude psychotherapy, his central themes of respect for individual autonomy and the encouragement of personal development are now at the core of most modern psychological treatments and his ’hierarchy of needs’ is still considered an important theory of human motivation.
Humans strive for personal growth and self-realization despite the challenges of life, and psychology needs to incorporate these aspects to fully understand human nature.
Although Maslow was critical of the narrow focus of scientific psychology, he always saw the humanistic approach as a complement to it, rather than as a replacement, and remained a little disappointed that his ideas were not more influential among scientists of the time. Recently, however, the theme of human potential and happiness has been picked up by the more scientifically minded positive psychology movement which cites Maslow as an early inspiration.
ABRAHAM H. MASLOW
Wallowing at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are bodily cravings like hunger and lust, and functions like sleep and excretion. At the summit is ’self-actualization’ or fulfilling your potential.