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Maslow's Life Was Dedicated to Aliveness Too

Being alive brings much else with it in time.

Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) is best known for his self-actualisation theory of psychology. He argued that sane self-integration should be the prime goal of psychology. Since then, the recent branch of psychology termed Positive Psychology, has recognised Maslow's work: Humanistic theories of human flourishing that Maslow, Carl Rogers, and many others have developed, have been empirically supported in studies by positive psychologists.

After two weeks at law school Maslow one night came home to his poor father and told him he could not be a lawyer, but that he wanted to study everything. (Maslow 1987, xxxvi)

Maslow fell in love with his cousin Bertha. At nineteen he finally got enough nerve to kiss her. She did not reject him. They were married a year later. (Maslow 1987, xxxvi)

He studied psychology and Gestalt psychology. He got solid training in experimental research from some very fine experimental psychologists. Maslow accepted a professorship in psychology at Brooklyn College and taught there for 14 years. He inspired his students and was one of the few professors who cared.

Maslow's mentors at The New School for Social Research in New York included Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, and Margaret Mead. Two other scholars became his close friends as well: the anthropologist Ruth Benedict, and Max Wertheimer, founder of Gestalt psychology. He was deeply inspired by these two. He began keeping a notebook on them, trying to analyse what made them such fine human beings and scholars. He studied them by the contrastive method. Then something dawned on him, and he

realized in one wonderful moment that their two patterns could be generalised . . . There was wonderful excitement in that. l tried to see whether this pattern could be found elsewhere, and l did find it elsewhere, in one person after another . . .

I wanted to make science consider all the problems that nonscientists have been handling – religion, poetry, values, philosophy, art. I went about it by trying to understand great people, the best specimens of mankind I could find. (Maslow 1987, xxxviii)

He became head of the psychology department at Brandeis University in Waltham in 1951 and remained there until 1969, one year before he died.

Through his observations and thinking and output Maslow took part of developing humanistic psychology. Humanistic psychologists believe that behaviourists are overconcerned with the scientific study and analysis of activity, to the neglect of basic aspects of man as a feeling, thinking individual. Humanists tend to believe that the individual is responsible for his life and actions and is concerned with full growth of the individual in the areas of love, fulfillment, self-worth, and autonomy. The Association for Humanistic Psychology lists five basic postulates: "man, as man, supersedes the sum of his parts; man has his being in a human context; man is aware; man has choice; and, man is intentional." Moreover, Humanistic Psychology holds that man, as an individual, is a unique being and should be recognised and treated as such.

Maslow went up that alley for many years, but later found:

l consider Humanistic, Third Force Psychology to be transitional, a preparation for a still "higher" Fourth Psychology, transpersonal, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in human needs and interest. (Maslow 1987, xxxix)

Maslow also spent thought on business management. He found that many successful businessmen had the positive approach to human nature that he advocated in psychology. Managers who treated subordinates with trust and respect created a more supportive, more creative, and more productive work situation. He concluded that "Pure psychology could learn more from real-life work-research than vice versa." (Maslow 1987, xxxix)

His major works are Motivation and Personality (1954) and Toward a Psychology of Being (1962). In them he says we have a hierarchy of needs to satisfy as we develop along all right treks. The needs range from basic needs of the body to love, esteem, and self-actualization.

Maslow believed that self-actualizers are the models of health and "paragons of virtues" to get inspired by, and not necessarily the rich and the famous or the nobility. Those who realised themselves got truly healthy in the long process of satisfying their main needs and integrating key parts of their deep-probing self. (EB "Maslow, Abraham H.")

Going for Self-Efficiency Can Take Many Forms

Abraham H. Maslow was a man who dared to listen deeply to himself and to his unwavering belief in the positive potential of the human . . ." - Robert Frager

George Leonard compares Maslow to a few others:

He wrote with none of the dark grandeur of a Freud or the leamed grace of an Erik Erikson or the elegant precision of a B. E. Skinner. He was not a brilliant speaker; in his early years he was so shy he could hardly bring himself to mount the podium . . .

And yet, Abraham Maslow has done more to change our view of human nature and human possibilities than has any other American psychologist . . . His influence, both direct and indirect, continues to grow, [also] in the personal and social lives of millions of Americans . (in Maslow 1987, xxiv)

Maslow himself thought that "human history is a record of the ways in which human nature has been sold short. The highest possibilities of human nature have practically always been underestimated." (Ibid.)

"Maslow's life was dedicated to the study of people that he considered to be psychologically healthy: "indeed, self-actualizing people, those who have come to a high level of maturation, health and self-fulfillment . . . the values that self-actualizers appreciate include truth, creativity, beauty, goodness, wholeness, aliveness, uniqueness, justice, simplicity, and self-sufficiency," writes Robert Frager. (Maslow 1987, xxxv].

Maslow concluded:

  • Human beings have an innate tendency to move toward higher levels of health, creativity, and self-fulfillment.
  • Neurosis may be regarded as a blockage of the tendency toward self-actualization.
  • The evolution of a society in which all individuals may reach a high level of self-development without restricting each others' freedom, is natural and essential.
  • Business efficiency and personal growth can go well along together. In fact, the self-actualization process leads an individual to high levels of efficiency. (Maslow 1987, xxxv]

In 1968 Maslow saw that the psychology-revolution that he spearheaded had become solidly established. "It is beginning to be used, especially in education, industry, religion, organization and management, therapy and self improvement . . ." (Maslow 1987, xxxv]


Tracking Abraham Maslow

What you come up with when you intently observe the marks and activities of someone who himself watched splendid people in secret and took notes of them - Maslow did - could amount to something.

What may you come up with when you track cats or other humans in silence? It depends on your capacity to observe and digest what you see. Both can ge trained. It also depends on how maturely integrated and sane you are, and what you are allowed to "study or spy or do research on". The ability to come close to people or prey often helps. Cats are good at it. This strategy often allows kittens to get it better. Much depends on playmates, though, and over-all conditions and the urban environment as time goes by. We could postulate something interesting right here, but we can also refrain . . . Instead we prefer to refer to books like Manwatching Desmond Morris (1978).

A great many principles of bird-watching apply too. At any rate, bird-watching is a quite inexpensive activity. The conception of habitat can be very useful in studying humans too, over and above data that modern censuses and gallup polls may bring to light.

Good gear, academic grades and the permissions they tend to bring, could make you welcome in a decent neighbourhood, which in turn helps many, much according to a saying by Sir Winston Churchill: "We form our buildings; afterwards they form us."

Good points often serve human children's needs to get informed about life, and if humans do not create better environments for their children than what nice cats survive and thrive in with ease, there is a task to master for mankind. The teachings of Abraham Maslow hardly meet the tall standards that regulate all-round cat living. Do they suit human beings well enough, then? A wise man has put it in this way: "No." The needs to be on guard and protect one's habitat and oneself are overlooked in Maslow, but not among animals and birds in the wild. The ability to run is good help too, to many.

But try and judge for yourself.

Maslow's Ideas May Be "Spied" Too

Abraham Maslow's legacy can be studied to the end of making good use of it. First we observe calmly and let possible prejudices rest for the time. We let main ideas sink in, and sleep on them. This helps integration with other material inside, and affords more deep-probing sides of us the opportunity to get through to bright awareness some way or other. Comparisons may help you.

There is much you can do in bed too. Some idea kernels may be so hard to ascertain full well that living them for a life-time may not be time enough.

Below are being-values and more as postulated by Maslow. In some environments they should work well, many of them. But there is no guarantee.

  1. Wholeness: unity; integration; tendency to one-ness; interconnectedness; simplicity; organization; structure; dichotomy-transcendence; order.
  2. Perfection: necessity; just-right-ness; just-so-ness; inevitability; suitability; justice; completeness; "oughtness".
  3. Completion: ending; finality; justice; "it's finished"; fulfillment; finis and telos; destiny; fate.
  4. Justice: fairness; orderliness; lawfulness; "oughtness".
  5. Aliveness: process; non-deadness; spontaneity; self-regulation; full-functioning.
  6. Richness: differentiation, complexity; intricacy.
  7. Simplicity: honesty; nakedness; essentiality; abstract, essential, skeletal structure.
  8. Beauty: rightness; form; aliveness; simplicity; richness; wholeness; perfection; completion; uniqueness; honesty.
  9. Goodness: rightness; desireability; oughtness; justice; benevolence; honesty.
  10. Uniqueness: idiosyncrasy; individuality; non-comparability; novelty.
  11. Effortlessness: ease; lack of strain, striving or difficulty; grace; perfect, beautiful functioning.
  12. Playfulness: fun; joy; amusement; gaiety; humor; exuberance; effortlessness.
  13. Truth; honesty; reality: nakedness; simplicity; richness; oughtness; beauty; pure, clean and unadulterated; completeness; essentiality.
  14. Self-sufficiency: autonomy; independence; not-needing-other-than-itself-in-order-to-be-itself; self-determining; environment-transcendence; separateness; living by its own laws.

Source: The Psychology of Being, 2nd ed. p. 83.

Metaneeds and metapathologies

Another way that Maslow approaches the problem of self-actualization is to talk about special, driving needs (Being-needs) of self-actualizers. To be happy, in their lives they appear to need:

  • Truth, rather than dishonesty.
  • Goodness, rather than evil.
  • Beauty, not ugliness or vulgarity.
  • Unity, wholeness, and transcendence of opposites, not arbitrariness or forced choices.
  • Aliveness, not deadness or the mechanization of life.
  • Uniqueness, not bland uniformity.
  • Perfection and necessity, not sloppiness, inconsistency, or accident.
  • Completion, rather than incompleteness.
  • Justice and order, not injustice and lawlessness.
  • Simplicity, not unnecessary complexity.
  • Richness, not environmental impoverishment.
  • Effortlessness, not strain.
  • Playfulness, not grim, humorless, drudgery.
  • Self-sufficiency, not dependency.
  • Meaningfulness, rather than senselessness.

Maslow believed that much of the what is wrong with the world tied in with unfulfilled good drives, that the vast majority of people don't have their basic needs taken relevantly care of!

The strong drives unfulfilled might develop what Maslow called metapathologies. Swindled from or forced to live without these values, the self-actualizer develops depression, despair, disgust, alienation, and a degree of cynicism.

Happy solutions in a life should be marked by attaining to and stabilising higher levels of human potential. It can be done in fair ways.

The value of cultural habits can be questioned

Who is considered great or bright today, may not be thought to be so by those who come after us. Esteemed brightness is very often culturally determined. Among Taoists of at least ancient China, the great sage went undetected, unlike a proverbial fool who could not hide his wisdom. It took other great persons to recognise a great one, the Tao Te Ching suggests. It is sensible. From Robert Henricks' translation (1993):

The Sage dwells in nonactive affairs and practices the wordless teaching. (Chap. 2)

Accomplished you retire - (Chap. 9)

The one who was skilled at practicing the Way in antiquity,
Was subtle and profound, mysterious and penetratingly wise.
His depth cannot be known.
It is only because he cannot be known
That therefore were I forced to describe him I'd say:

Hesitant . . . Undecided . . . Like an ice as it melts . . . Like uncarved wood.

With the highest [kind of rulers], those below simply know they exist.
With those one step down - they love and praise them.

Shapeless am I! As though I have nothing in which I can rest. (Chap. 20)

Formless! Shapeless! Inside there are images.
Shapeless! Formless! Inside there are things.
Hidden! Obscure! Inside there are essences.

The Sage is constantly good at saving men and never rejects anyone. (Chap. 27)

As soon as there are set names,
Then you must also know that it's time to stop.
By knowing to stop - in this way you'll come to no harm.

The highest humanity takes action, yet it has no reason for acting this way. (Chap. 38)
When the highest type of men hear the Way, with diligence they're able to practice it;
When the average men hear the Way, some things they retain and others they lose;
When the lowest type of men hear the Way, they laugh out loud at it.
If they didn't laught at it, it couldn't be regarded as the Way.


"It takes one to know one." It goes to say the really wise and accomplished ones go largely unrecognised, and may be laughed at too. Maslow did not incorporate such landmarks in his theory. It is good to know that.

Maslow, one of the founders of humanistic psychology, got the idea to set out to get a grip on overlapping human factors in folks he already had high opinions of. There is a fallacy there, one of preconceived notions. And as Tao Te Ching is into in many ways, people that many call great ones may not be the best sort. This mention applies to Indian sages too, and also the jivanmukta (jivamukta), free soul. Of one of them it is said in the Srimad Bhagavatam that he was

free to live like a madman with his hair unkempt, stark naked and roaming about like a deaf and mute madman and castaway of strange, imbecile-looking ways. He remained unconcerned about the world and did not speak at all, even if spoken to. Passing through cities, villages, and farms he was surrounded by bad people and flies, was threatened, urinated and spit upon, thrown into the dust, and given bad names.

But he did not care; he had a lovely nature and a great abundance of curly brown hair. He smeared his body by rolling in excrements, ate, drank and urinated exactly like cows, crows and deer. (In Raghunathan 1976, 419-21)

A jivanmukta may also behave like a scholar. (Gupta 1942, 491). There is a passage here about how. [Like a madman]

IQ is not everything: Maslow was measured to be uncommonly intelligent, but overlooked such free souls (!) such Self-realisers in a very long tradition. However, "Intelligence is what is measured on intelligtests," which is a circular definition, and therefore not good enough, basically. Daniel Goleman of Harvard University has made "emotional intelligence" widely known too, and there is room for yet more additions to the intelligence construct still. "Unorthodox" might perhaps sum up parts of jivamukta goings.

Why expect the great get detected by all conformised ones?

We Could Do Worse than Going for Wealth Judiciously

It is possible that Existentialism will not only enrich psychology. It may be an additional push toward the establishment of another branch of psychology, the psychology of the fully evolved and authentic Self and its ways of being. - Abraham Maslow

You could do worse than to go for money to have enough control and do good with the left-overs.

One should hardly critizise much money in the right hands - in hands that help or offer help. So -

You could go for all that you or your family truly needs for a savoury life and use the familiy resources well - it often means with care. Things could deteriorate unless we have means enough for a good way of life. Wealth and means in the right hands might be allied to a judicious approach.

As with an iceberg, there is much one may or may not notice at first glance in meeting it. [Buddha on such things]

Savoury people allow bright guys.

By Contrast

What, then, is the right way of living? Life must be lived as play. Plato, Laws

Being childlike - with an open and friendy attitude, sincere and so on - seems to be a true and deep need, as Hindu teachers indicate. "The Paramahamsa [i.e. the Awakened] is like a five year old child. He sees everything filled with consciousness." (Ramakrishna 1974, 207).

Some assert that playing man, or homo ludens in Latin, could express man at his best. Suppose it is otherwise and that more is needed also - compare the hallmarks of great ones in Taoism (above). More:

[P]lay . . . is an activity which proceeds . . . according to rules freely accepted . . . The play-mood is one of rapture and enthusiasm, and is sacred or festive in accordance with the occasion. A feeling of exaltation and tension accompanies the action. . .

[T]he definition we have just given of play might serve as a definition of poetry. . . .

[T]he hitting of the mark by rhyme or assonance, the deliberate disguising of the sense, the artificial and artful construction of phrases-all might be so many utterances of the play spirit. - Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens (1949, 132)

Even crows play. - Diane Ackerman (1999, 5)

[M]an today is much concerned with freedom, and the world of play is the world of freedom itself - of activity for its own sake, of spontaneity, of pure realization. Today, however, we seldom associate freedom with play. Freedom is grim. . .

And yet play is at least the half of life. Play and work derive from the same source. Hugo Rahner 1967, ix. (Highlighting added.)

The forms of play change as the child gets older. It is natural. And a person desires one thing and next another: Maslow first became known for thinking there is an order in the succession of motives. Desires and goals change as we grow maturer and not stagnant, developing from within, and perhaps childlike.

Interest in higher levels of motivation helped Maslow to see, as time went by, that some persons perceive their everyday life realistically, and free from quite unhealthy defensiveness. Yet, fooled men and women are much too open-hearted and welcoming towards morbid associations of psychopath-looking corporations. See The Corporation, a Canadian documentary:

The Corporation examines and criticizes corporate business practices. The film's assessment is affected via the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV; [a] psychology professor and a consultant to the FBI, compares the profile of the contemporary profitable business corporation to that of a clinically diagnosed psychopath . . . The Corporation attempts to compare the way corporations are systematically compelled to behave with what it claims are the DSM-IV's symptoms of psychopathy, e.g., the callous disregard for the feelings of other people, the incapacity to maintain human relationships, the reckless disregard for the safety of others, the deceitfulness (continual lying to deceive for profit), the incapacity to experience guilt, and the failure to conform to social norms and respect the law. [WP, "The Corporation (2003 film)". Highlighting added]
A person and many a family is favoured by adequate protections too. It is a salient point that Maslow made too little of. For there is much unwelcome to be on one's guard against.

What is good equipment?

Good equipment, is it something that does the job better and takes over and places humans on the sideline later?

It says, "Be on your guard against the self-driving car too. It may replace you in the end." Many who buy cars may become mere passengers, trapped, and what next? To find out more of it, ask "Where does the money go?" and "Who benefits?" To think a bit ahead to promote a human world for human beings could work well; but do not be too certain. Consider what you may get up against.

Granted that some persons have managed to grow into individuals or allowed to blossom into maturity, Maslow might have pointed out that many handy ones may prefer to preserve and shield themselves too. Maslow discovered , however, that persons in whom all lower needs (postulated as lower) are satisfied, a new motive can be observed, the drive for self-actualisation - becoming everything that one is capable of becoming. That is Maslow verbosity. However, realism basically rises above phrases into direct perceptions. And consider Tao Te Ching words:

Sincere words are not showy;
Showy words are not sincere.. . .
(Chap. 81. in Henricks' translation)

Maybe so and maybe no. Look into the expression "becoming everything that one is capable of becoming". Jainist metaphysics asserts that the inner essence of man is able to develop quite like that.

[E]very soul is capable of attaining infinite consciousness, power and happiness. These qualities are inherent in the very nature of the soul. . . . The obstacles being removed, the soul attains its natural perfection . . . liberation. . . . The Tirthankaras, to whom all the godly powers like omniscience and omnipotence belong . . . are adored as ideals of life. (Chatterjee and Datta 2007, 28).

One may steer out of dangerous ruins, traps and dangers, and halt on the road that leads into perdition. That's in the art of living, where great stupidity hardly pays. Stupid is as stupid does: one may come to harm by friendliness shown to unworthy "comrades"? It often happens. Just that observation is at the heart of the present critique of Maslow's "be-open" attitude. He did not postulate that much in life depends on circumstances, conditions and associates.

In the system of Abraham Maslow, such caveats have been too overlooked. Instead he endorses an welcoming king of openness that may lead right into ruin if neighbours and intruders do not love you back, no matter how kind and loveable you might be, or your children, or your wife. Thus, let us face a rather over-optimistic mind-set and consequently learn to bulwark too. Why? It shields a family so that children and others might indulge in safe play of many kinds, and grow up too.

"Don't harm yourself, your playmates, and valuable things," favours little children. It is a good summary that may assist them. A lot of handling difficulties may get solved one way or another through such a steering principle, such a "bridle" fit for folks.

Late in life Maslow described characteristics of human peak experiences and effects they can have. It doesn't rule out what a former British Lord said: "Earlier I had six theories of upbringing and no children. Now I have six childen and no theories of upbringing."

Our conditions and abilities may lead to our discarding of many former theories. Thomas Aquinas - an influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist known as the Doctor Angelicus and the Doctor Communis - had a revelation and later regarded the books he had written on theology as mere straw.

The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me. - Thomas of Aquinas

Many theories in science and on raising humans, have been discarded with time and progress. "Look to the best and not the rest," is a free rendering of a Norwegian a proverb. Maslow was eager in this approach. And "the very best Thomas" made a point about straw. A knower knows and a thinker only thinks or imagines he or she knows. When Abraham Maslow had done his life-work, he did not allow for accommodations to avoid getting beneath very bad neighbours, foolish and morbid associates, and associations of burglars. Many people get troubled by enemies in the neighbourhood too.

One more thing: The linear presentation ways of Maslow is hardly as effective as "organic" (mind-mapping) ways, for example such ways that Tony Buzan and his brother Barry favour in The Mind Map Book: Unlock Your Creativity, Boost Your Memory, Change Your Life. (Buzan and Buzan 2010).

Much depends on the effectiveness of one's study methods and how material is presented and clarified for possible, future, practical results. The University of Stockholm recommends at least an assorted sample of Buzan books (see for examle Buzan 2010 and 2010b)


Discern and Assert Some Neat Values

It's not ideal merely to accept or succumb to this and that culturally served value or value system; the ideal is to inspect such things a long time before committing oneself to any of them. "Look before you leap (British proverb)".

Maslow's youth could illustrate he lacked good peer company. Good friends can be trusted in much and often. That is ideal. [Those are good friends].

Maslow studied people

In testing conditions, sensible self-searching and higher education could eventually make life milder, or bearable.

Teories that are fostered and held, tend to reflect proclivities of those that uphold them. Interest in higher levels of motivation led Maslow to study many persons that he came to think were self-actualising, and they differed from most people in:

  • being unusually healthy psychologically;
  • having marked ability to free themselves from stereotypes;
  • perceiving everyday life realistically and accepting it without [great] defensiveness.
  • Self-actualizing people appear to have, or to have had, "peak experiences" of insight, joy, or intense awareness.

Maslow describes such likely marks and effects they have in his Toward a Psychology of Being (1968).

And still, in the Chinese, Tibetan and Indian traditions, the best self-actualisers go beyond Maslows listings. One should take into account that "Maslow's self-actualisers are not the great self-actualisers, for the latter are hardly known, or go for lunatics, maybe fools too, etc. (above).

Maslow turned away from behaviorism in time

Maslow's first academic position after he had become a doctor, was as a research associate for Edward Thorndike. Maslow was impressed with the potentials of behaviorism, but he came to see the the strict behaviorist approach to life had major limitations too.

The beautiful program of Watson . . . its fatal flaw is that it's good for the lab and in the lab, but you put it on and take it off like a lab coat. . .. It does not generate an image of man, a philosophy of life, a conception of human nature. It's not a guide to living, to values, to choices. It's a way of collecting facts upon facts about behavior, what you can see and touch and hear through the senses.

But behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.

If you treat your children at home in the same way you treat your animals in the lab, your wife will scratch your eyes out. My wife ferociously wamed me against experimenting on her babies. [in Maslow 1987, xx]

To let one's nice wife feel welcome is fine.

Maslow accessed Freudian thinking and Gestalt psychology

Maslow also believed that Freudian theory provided a major contribution to human understanding, especially in the central role of sexuality in human behavior. At Columbia University, back in 1936, he caused a controversy by interviewing college women about their sexual lives. At that time, US research on sexuality was unheard of; Kinsey's investigations began two years later. Maslow found that sexual activity was related to a trait he termed "dominance," and which he had studied in Harlow's primate lab.

Maslow next became a professor in psychology at Brooklyn College. He taught there for 14 years. He inspired students, and students deeply appreciated his loving teacher concern.

His mentors at The New School for Social Research in New York included Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, and Margaret Mead. Two other great scholars became Maslow's close teachers and friends, namely, the anthropologist Ruth Benedict and Max Wertheimer, founder of Gestalt psychology. Maslow was deeply inspired by the the two. Not only were [xxxvii] they bright and okay scholars as well as warm, caring, mature human beings. Maslow now tried to fiend out what made them such marvellous friendly beings and scholars.

My investigations on self-actualisation were not planned to be research and did not start out as research. They started out as the effort of a young intellectual trying to understand two of his teachers whom he loved . . . wonderful people. lt was a kind of high-IQ devotion. I could not be content simply to adore, but sought to understand why these two people were so different from the run-of-the-mill people in the world. These two people were . . . my teachers after I came with a Ph.D. from the West to New York City . . . lt was as if they were not quite people, but something more than people. My own investigation began as a prescientific activity. I made descriptions and notes on Max Wertheimer and I made notes on Ruth Benedict. . . . I realized in one wonderful moment that their two patterns could be generalized. I was talking about a kind of person, not about two noncomparable individuals. There was wonderful excitement in that. [in Maslow 1987, xx]

Bright individuals are often on the outlook for patterns to steer on top of, or to regulate this and that by.

Maslow on the way to Transpersonal Psychology

At the beginning of World War II, Maslow was moved to tears by a patriotic parade.

"The tears ran down my face. I felt we didn't understand - not Hitler, nor the Germans, nor Stalin . . . We didn't understand any of them. (. . .)

I wanted to prove that human beings are capable of something grander than war and prejudice and hatred.

I wanted to make science consider [major problems or findings of ] religion, poetry, values, philosophy, art.

I went about it by trying to understand great people, the best specimens of mankind I could find." [in Maslow 1987, xx]

In 1951, Maslow left Brooklyn College to move to the newly established Brandeis University. He became the first chairman of the psychology department, deeply committed to the university's growth and development. Maslow remained at Brandeis until 1969, a year before his death. During this period he refined his ideas, moving toward a better or more comprehensive theory [xxxviii] of human nature.

In 1962 he helped found the Association for Humanistic Psychology with a group of eminent colleagues, including Drs. Rollo May and Carl Rogers.

In continuing to explore the farther reaches of human potential, Maslow also inspired the founding of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. He wrote of these two psychologies:

I have come to think of this humanist trend in psychology as a revolution in the truest, oldest sense of the word, the sense in which Galileo, Darwin, Einstein, Freud, and Marx made revolutions, i.e., new ways of perceiving and thinking, new images of man and of society, new conceptions of ethics and of values, new directions in which to move.

This Third Psychology is now one facet of a . . . new philosophy of life, a new conception of man, the beginning of a new century of work. . ..

I should say also that I consider Humanistic, Third Force Psychology to be transitional, a preparation for a still "higher" Fourth Psychology, transpersonal, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in human needs and interest." [in Maslow 1987, xx)

Maslow took notes on Management

Maslow also took to studying management, for he was interested in the world of business. In the summer of 1962 he became a visiting fellow to Non-Linear Systems, an innovative, hightech California corporation. He saw that his theories were relevant to business management and that there were many self-actualising people in industry. He found that many successful businessmen were employing the same positive approach to human nature as he was advocating in psychology. He was pleased to discover that managers who treated their subordinates with trust and respect created a more supportive, more productive, and more creative work situation.

So, Maslow's abstract theories were actually put to the test in "the marketplace." Maslow's journals from that period offer interesting lessons. (Maslow, Stephens and Heil 1998, passim).

On transpersonal psychology

Toward the end of his life, Maslow went further and inaugurated what he called the fourth force in psychology, "transpersonal, transhuman, centered in the cosmos" (above).

Transpersonal psychology is a vast field. It encompasses parapsychology. Roberts and Groome (2001) have edited a book with

up-to-date summaries of unconscious awareness, dreams, ESP research, reports of alien abductions and near-death experiences, among other things. The various contributors to this section have attempted to convey not only what is known about these phenomena but also what has yet to be established. We believe that raising questions is just as important as answering them. . . .

We conclude the book with a few thoughts about why the paranormal is so important in our society, what lessons can be learned from studying it, and how it may (or may not) help us to form a vision of humanity that is compatible with the knowledge which has been accrued in the human sciences.(2001, xii)

Harvey J. Irwin and Caroline A. Watt (2007) write that parapsychology offers complexities that need to be well handled.

Human cognitive, social, cultural, emotional, motivational, perceptual, neuropsychological, psychodynamic, and other psychological factors are so complex and variable that no individual experience can possibly be understood completely in terms of one basic dimension or process. (Irwin and Watt 2007, 2)

The stance taken here is that if the public is deceived into construing a phenomenon as paranormal then their experience should nonetheless be deemed parapsychological and be the subject of study by parapsychologists. . . .

Again, there may be other phenomena interpreted as paranormal by the general public and yet excluded from study by parapsychologists . . . such things as witchcraft, popular astrology, fairies, the Bermuda Triangle, numerology, and Tarot readings, despite the common image of these matters as paranormal in the mind of the public and indeed for many skeptics . . . I suspect that parapsychologists' rejection of these topics springs in part from political motives. (Ibid., 5)

Abraham Maslow's fourth force, transpersonal psychologies, is taking cues from such as Eastern philosophies. Some of these systems investigate meditation, higher levels of consciousness, and parapsychological phenomena. It could take a life-time.

Transpersonal psychology (trans: beyond) is also known as "depth psychology." A repeat: Transpersonal psychology includes such topics as near death experiences, altered states of consciousness in meditative practices, lucid dreaming, and moving into transcendence.

Pyramid of Needs

Maslow's pyramid of needs and thoughts around it are widely adopted, also by NGOs (non-governmental organisations). but it is a bit limited, though.

Abraham Maslow's Pyramid of Needs

Figure. 1. Abraham Maslow's postulated hierarchy of needs in pyramid form

Maslow did not plot in music. A life without wisely made music is hardly good for many souls. The same goes for fair play in it many variants, and on various levels. Music (of nama in Sanskrit) one likes and play (Sanskrit: lila) one likes, mean a lot. Such music and play may neither derange nor harm guys. Sounds play a vital part in some religions.

As for sexual intimacy, which Maslow places on the third level from bottom, it may be cultivated and used also on higher levels and even help Self-actualisers (level 5) and further. Works of Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism (tantric texts) tell how. (Chang 1991)

This is to say that Maslow's pyramid of needs is not a bible; it is a rather average-based sketch, and very useful as such.

First, the five steps or levels of the pyramid is a staircase of solid needs that seem to operate in many persons if not all of them, if given good nurturing for a long time. The steps that Maslow postulated, are read from bottom and up, with (some degrees of) Self-actualisation at the top of his rankings:

5. Self-actualisation desires and yearnings. (Being-needs)
4. Esteem hankerings.
3. Social yearnings.
2. Safety adherence.
1. Physiological, steady competence needs.

The four ground levels of needs he called deficit needs, or D-needs. Both plants and humans need a lot to sprout and grow and fulfil themselves fairly well. A plant grows by getting supplies, and the drive to fulfil itself is built into it, sort of. It is much the same with a human being. But if lower needs are unmet and the soul is looted, the individual can hardly get adequately wise or fulfil the self's potentials.

"Fulfilment levels" are above the first four nourishment levels (Maslowian stages). Maslow stopped at Self-actualisation, but there is more at the top, as yoga traditions are into. There are many indications that Self-actualisation a là Maslow is not the end station of the "bus ride", not in traditions of yoga-meditation. (See levitation attempts and further)

Putting such subtleties aside for now, Maslow came to see these four first needs as survival needs, basically, and they are needed to maintain health on the way on and up into the highest own-source-linked level of Self-actualisation or further.

Human love and esteem (level 3) goes into Maslow's ranking. They appear to be means to keep one's wider health, also called holistic health. Operating fairly and squarely at the middle level where SOCIAL AND AFFILIATION NEEDS are at full play, a person can be happily married and have jolly good friends both at work and elsewhere. If so, there tends to be a deep yearning for accomplishing 'things' adjoined to the next level of ESTEEM NEEDS (level 4). As a supervisor one should be considerate in that respect; it could work well.

A poor manager may simply guess and take a shot at what motivates an individual at any time, whereas someone who looks at Maslow's theory and grasps several ground rules tries to understand (a) what motivational step a persons is likely to fit into; (b) thinks that advancement is through one step (or level) at a time; (c) and no level may be skipped on the way to higher levels.

To that end some managers ask or interview, estimate during or after the interview, and choose satisfactory courses of activities to tackle or get into.

There are many outlets on each level. To realise the usefulness of these hierarchically arranged levels and adjust motivators and rewards accordingly, could reduce lack of thriving and wasted efforts, for example. (See the book Maslow on Management (1998), for example.

Given fair chances, there are persons that evolve into sensing their own needs. On some levels it is helped by others that recognise some of their predominant achievements.

Maslow suggested that we can ask people of their "philosopy of the future" - what their ideal life or world would be like - and get significant information as to what needs they do or do not have covered. Maybe so.

On top we find being needs with growth motivation in contrast to deficit motivation. On the self-actualising level there is an individualised strive to fulfill certain potentials. For that reason persons devote themselves to fulfilling some potentials they get aware they have, instead of striving for money, money, and so on (the lower needs).

Self-fulfillers may arrive at different perceptions of means and ends. They may be centred in solving problems, in reality-handling and may be very independent of their surroundings, even surprisingly so. The may be found to be simply accepting at large, even of culture, and spendidly fresh in their thinking in the realm of philosophy. Their sense of humour may be developed. It is to be expected -

Thanks to Maslow it may get easier to motivate workers, but easy-looking, steady surface manipulation through this line of thinking is far from the real significance of it, though. It is a tool for self-help, self-adjustment and things like that, since the higher stages rise into autonomous activity. Being met with harshness and severity on the way upwards is not good for that process. Only a small percentage of the world's population is truly, predominantly, self-actualizing. Maslow at one point suggested only about two percent.

Have been asked over and over again what got me to go to Non-Linear systems . . . One thing was the slow realisation that my theories, especially of motivation, were being used and put to the test in the industrial lab rather than in the experimental lab. [Earlier] I couldn't figure out how to test motivation theory and SA [self-actualisation] theory in the lab. They relieved me of this guilt and freed me forever from the lab . . . Non-Linear is one big lab and one big experiment.

I gave up my simple notion that management psychology was simply the application of pure psychology. Pure psychology could learn more from real-life work-research than vice versa. Life psychology had better be tested in life-labs. The chemistry lab and the test-tube experiment are lousy models for human life research. (Maslow 1987, xx)

Esalen and the Maslows

In the summer of 1962, Abraham Maslow and his wife Bertha were driving along the California coast for a vacation. They made much slower progress than they had planned, and it got dark as they were driving through Big Sur. They pulled over into what seemed to be a motel. They found a group of people in an old lodge, all reading Maslow's book, Toward a Psychology of Being.

The Maslows had pulled off into Esalen Institute as that "first growth centre" of its kind was just about to open - Esalen was founded in 1962. Esalen's cofounder Michael Murphy had just read Maslow's new book and enthusiastically bought copies for the staff. He and Maslow soon became friends. Maslow's ideas became a major influence on Esalen and on the whole human potential movement.

Maslow gave his first Esalen workshop two years after Esalen began. The Institute had by then gained a national reputation for running encounter groups and other intense, emotionally charged workshops. Maslow's weekend was purely intellectual.

Several of the Esalen staff members, interested in his ideas, sat in on his talks and discussions. In the middle of Maslow's first evening talk, Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy and enfant terrible of Esalen, got bored with the lack of emotional action. He began crawling toward an attractive woman across the room, chanting "You are my mother; I want my mother; you are my mother." Maslow left the room. He felt upset and offended as he shut himself in his cabin that night and thought through some of the differences between his own approach and the experiential emphasis prevalent at Esalen. Before daybreak came, he had completed the outline of a classic article contrasting Appolonian control with Dionysian abandon.

A great reputation is often had by less that great notions too

In 1967, Maslow was elected president of the American Psychological Association. Colleagues acknowledged his influence even while they objected to his innovations in theory and methodology. For all that, Maslow's thinking has been regarded as great until now.

In 1968 Maslow was given a grant that enabled him to write much as he pleased. He left Brandeis and went to California. There he died of a heart attack in 1970.

Maslow could have learnt the value of bulwarking better and not only welcoming friendliness. The great teachers he felt inspired by in the first place - many of them were refugees. A refugee may harbour a tall desire to make others stretch out welcoming arms in an open-ended gesture.

Consider that Israelites could not hope to stay in a land that "flowed with milk and honey" (cattle and bees) without fighting to get established, and next make intruders rather unwelcome in it. It has happened in many other places too, and skewed or self-glorifying history writing about such dominion too.

Without a firm hold and foresight enough to bulwark better, many people succumb to vile ones. The United States of yesterday, today offers food for much similar thought, by the way.

Here are a few titbits from Abraham Maslow's last diary entry, on May 7, 1970.

Somebody asked me the question . . . How did a timid youngster get transformed into a (seemingly) "courageous" leader and spokesman? How come I was willing to talk up, to take unpopular positions, while most others didn't? (in Maslow 1987, xx)

He did not rule out a firm sense of realism when he answered he had learned a lot from studying self-actualising persons and their ways of living, and their metamotivations. One may learn to respond emotionally to the gross and grave injustice; and to meanness, unmasked lies and outright untruths; to bland and not so bland hatred and violence of human encounters - and the very simplistic and shortcoming answers around. Maslow:

What the kids and the intellectuals - and everybody else too - need is an ethos, a scientific value system and way of life and humanistic politics, with the theory, the facts, etc., all set forth soberly. . .. So again I must say to myself: to work! (in Maslow 1987, xx)

One more citation:

It is as if Freud supplied to us the sick half of psychology and we must now fill it out with the healthy half. - Abraham Maslow, in Toward a Psychology of Being (1968, 5)


Abraham Maslow's legacy: Titbits

After-effects of peak experiences

Below are dominant themes from Maslow's book Toward a Psychology of Being (1962):

[As for] after-effects upon the person . . . I have no controlled research data to present. I have only the general agreement of my subjects that there were such effects, my own conviction that there were, and the complete agreement of all the writers on creativeness, love, insight, mystic experi-ence and aesthetic experience. On these grounds I feel justified in making at least the following affirmations or propositions, all of which [could be] testable.
  1. Peak-experiences may and do have some therapeutic effects in the strict sense of removing symptoms. I have at least two reports - one from a psychologist, one from an anthropologist - of mystic or oceanic experiences so profound as to remove certain neurotic symptoms forever after. Such conversion experiences are of course plentifully recorded in hurnan history but so far as I know have never received the attention of psychologists or psychiatrists.
  2. They can change the person's view of himself in a healthy direction.
  3. They can change his view of other people and his relations to them in many ways.
  4. They can change more or less permanently his view of the world, or of aspects or parts of it.
  5. They can release him for greater creativity, spontaneity, expressiveness, idiosyncrasy.
  6. He remembers the experience as a very important and desirable happening and seeks to repeat it
  7. The person is more apt to feel that life in general is worth while, even if it is usually drab, pedestrian, painful or ungratifying, since beauty, excitement, honesty, play, goodness, truth and meaningfulness have been demonstrated to him to exist. (All so far: Maslow 1962, 101)

"Such aftereffects of esthetic experience, creative experience, love experience, mystic experience, insight experience, and other peak-experiences are preconsciously taken for granted and commonly expected by artists and art educators, by creative teachers, by religious and philosophical theorists, by loving husbands, mothers and therapists and by many others. (Ibid., 102]

Detected Characteristics

Many may ask themselves who among the renowned "great or big guys" are truly good. Maslow gives special importance/value to the following 16 items. From the list one can make an informal checklist if that should be desired for some reason.

What are peak experiences? They are experiences that are closest to oneself at one's peak, or best - roughly said.

Below, the central ideas of a text stand out. However, central issues of experiences can intertwine a lot. So things are not always clear-cut. Maslow:

It will be apparent . . . that all the "separate" characteristics following are not really separate at all, but partake of each other in various ways, e.g., overlapping, . . . [This is of] "holistic analysis" (in contrast to atomistic, or reductive, analysis) . . . I shall be describing in a holistic way, not by splitting identity apart into quite separate components which are mutually exclusive, but rather by turning it over and over in my hands . . ., seeing it now in this organisation (as a whole), now in that. Each "aspect" discussed can be ["turned" in the light of] other "aspects."
  1. Sane integration: The person in the peak-experiences feels more integrated [and] also looks that way, e.g., less split, more at peace, more one-pointed, more harmoniously and efficiently organised with all his parts functioning very nicely with each other, more synergetic.

  2. Fusing dimensions: As he gets to be more purely and singly himself he is more able to fuse with the world, with what was formerly not-self, e.g., the lovers come closer to forming a unit rather than two people, the I-Thou monism becomes more possible (. . .)

    That is, the greatest attainment of identity, autonomy, or selfhood is itself simultaneously a transcending of itself, a going beyond and above selfhood. The person can then become relatively egoless.

  3. Savoury peaking: The person in the peak-experiences usually feels himself to be at the peak of his powers, using all his capacities at the best and fullest. In [Dr. Carl R.] Rogers' nice phrase, he feels "fully functioning." He feels more intelligent, more perceptive, wittier . . . He becomes like a river without dams.

  4. Godlike top outlets: A slightly different aspect of fully-functioning is effortlessness and ease of functioning . . . working . . . "comes of itself." Allied to this often is the feeling of grace . . . that comes with smooth, easy effortless fully-functioning, when . . . functioning at [one's] best, [perhaps with] godlike gaiety (humour, fun, foolishness, silliness, play, laughter) which I think to be one of the highest B-values [Being-values, i.e. 'top values'] of identity.

  5. A creating centre: The person in peak-experiences feels [himself as the] responsible, active, creating centre of his activities and . . . perceptions. He feels more like a prime mover . . . He feels himself to be his own boss, fully responsible . . . with more "free will" . . . [And he] also looks that way to the observer . . . It is often possible to spot this great moment - of becoming responsible - in therapy . . . in education, in marriage, etc.

  6. Free from blocks: He is now most free of blocks, inhibitions, cautions, fears, doubts, . . . self-criticisms, brakes. . . .

  7. Simple, guileless and spontaneous: He is therefore more spontaneous, . . . more innocently behaving (guileless), . . . more natural (simple, relaxed . . .), more uncontrolled and . . . "instinctive," unrestrained . . .

  8. Perceiving and relating better: He is therefore more "creative" in a particular sense . . . His cognition and his behaviour . . . can mould itself in a non-interfering, Taoistic way . . . less . . . rehearsed . . . It is therefore relatively . . . purposeless, unstriven for, . . . undriven, since it is emergent . . . and doesn't come out of prior time.

  9. The individual flair looms up: All this can be phrased . . . as the acme of uniqueness, individuality or idiosyncrasy. If all people are different from each other in principle, they are more purely different in the peak-experiences. . . .

  10. Free of conditionings: In the peak-experiences, the individual is most here-now . . ., most free of the past and of the future in various senses, most "all there" in the experience. For instance, he can now listen better . . .

  11. Great purity stands out through independent fares based on a non-grasping identity: The person now becomes more a pure psyche . . . becomes more determined by intrapsychic laws rather than by the laws of non-psychic reality . . . there is simultaneously a letting-be of the self and of the other . . . I can grasp the non-self best by non-grasping, i.e., by letting it be itself, by letting it go . . . just as I become most purely myself when I emancipate myself [while] insisting on living only by the laws and rules intrinsic to me. When this has happened, it turns out that the intra-psychic (me) and the extra-psychic (other) are not so terribly different after all, and certainly are not really antagonistic. It turns out that both sets . . . can even be integrated and fused.

  12. The highest rise to rich gladness of heart, into humour and above id-hankerings: Non-striving or non-needing [can be looked on] as the centring-point (or centre of organisation) . . . and with certain delimited meanings, the person in the peak-experience becomes unmotivated (or undriven), . . . it makes similar sense to describe highest, most authentic identity as . . . non-wishing, i.e., as having transcended needs . . . He just is. Joy has been attained (. . .)

    I find this a very illuminating base for the theory of godlike humour . . .

  13. "The rhapsodic poet can begin": Expression and communication in the peak-experiences tend often to become poetic, mythical and rhapsodic, as if this were the natural kind of language to express such states of being. . . . The implication for identity theory is that more authentic persons may . . . become more like poets, artists, musicians, prophets, etc. [Especially "etc." (Joke)]

  14. Have only good items to ensure the good completions you are after: All peak-experiences may be fruitfully understood . . . on the paradigm of the Reichian type of complete orgasm, or as total discharge, catharsis . . . From these examples [one] should be able to understand phenomenologically how important completion is . . . [Good completion] seen out in the world is perfection . . . [Here] we come to the edge of the problem of how the good person and the good world make each other. . . . only peakers can achieve full identity (. . .)

    We may also have a clue here to the puzzling finding that many people report their peak-experiences as if they were somehow akin to (beautiful) death . . .

  15. Homo ludens or integrator is playful, and aspires little: I very strongly feel that playfulness of a certain kind is one of the [costly] values. One of the most important (reasons) is that it is fairly often reported in the peak-experiences . . . and also can be perceived (. . .)

    [Costly] playfulness [can have] a cosmic or a godlike, good-humoured quality . . . It could as easily be called happy joy, or gay exuberance or delight. It has a quality of spilling over . . . It is existential in the sense that it is an amusement or delight . . . and the largeness (strength) of . . . transcending the dominance-subordinance polarity. . . . It is simultaneously mature and childlike.

    It is final, Utopian (. . .)

    It is in itself an integrator, as beauty is, or love . . .

  16. Beauty-apperceptive and grateful: People during and after peak-experiences characteristically feel lucky, fortunate, graced. A not uncommon reaction is "I don't deserve this." Peaks are not planned or brought about by design; they happen. We are "surprised by joy" . . . The reaction of . . . the sweet "shock of recognition" are very frequent.

    A common consequence is a feeling of gratitude (. . .)

    Very often this feeling of gratitude is expressed as or leads to an all-embracing love for everybody and everything, to a perception of the world as beautiful, and good (. . .)

Finally, it is quite probable that we have here the theoretical link to the described facts of humility and pride in self-actualising, authentic persons. (. . .)

Such people resolve the dichotomy between pride and humility by fusing them into a single, complex, superordinate unity (. . .)

The goal of identity (self-actualisation, autonomy, individuation, [Karen] Horney's real self, authenticity, etc.) seems to be simultaneously an endgoal in itself, and also a transitional goal, a . . . step along the path to the transcendence of identity. . . . Put the other way about, if our goal is the Eastern one of ego-transcendence . . . of leaving behind self-consciousness and self-observation, of fusion with the world and identification with it . . . then it looks as if the best path to this goal for most people is via achieving identity, a strong real self, and via basic-need-gratification rather than via asceticism.

Perhaps it is relevant . . . [Now, ] my young subjects tend to report two kinds of physical reaction to peak-experiences. One is excitement and high tension ("I feel wild, . . . like yelling out loud"). The other is relaxation, peacefulness, quietness, the feeling of stillness. . . . What this means I don't know."

[Abraham Maslow: Toward a Psychology of Being 2nd ed. p. 101-14]

[One may want to add to the list. Why not "solid distancing"; "of benign deals"; "ascertaining expertlike"; and "having fit items at its best," for example?]


Abraham Maslow, learning theorist, Literature  

Ackerman, Diane. 1999. Deep Play. New York: Random House.

Buzan, Tony. The Speed Reading Book: Read More, Learn More, Achieve More. Harlow: BBC Active / Pearson, 2010.

Buzan, Tony. Use Your Head. Harlow: BBC Active / Pearson, 2010b.

Chang, Jolan. 1991. The Tao of Love and Sex. London: Penguin.

Chatterjee, Satischandra, and Dhirendramohan Datta. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. New Delhi: Rupa Publications, 2007.

Groome, David, et al. An Introduction to Cognitive Psychology: Processes and Disorders. 3rd ed. Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press, 2014.

Gupta, Mahendranath. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1942.

Henricks, Robert G. 1993. Tao Te Ching. New York: Random House Modern Library; 1993.

Huizinga, Johan. 1989. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Irwin, Harvey J, and Caroline A. Watt. 2007. An Introduction to Parapsychology. 5th ed. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co.

Maslow, Abraham. 1964. Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences. Columbus: Ohio State University.

⸻. 1968. Toward a Psychology of Being. 2nd ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

⸻. 1973. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

⸻. 1970. På vej mod en eksistens-psykologi. Copenhagenm DK: Nyt Nordisk Forlag.

⸻. 1987. Motivation and Personality. 3rd ed. New York, HarperCollins.

Maslow, Abraham H., with Deborah C. Stephens and Gary Heil. 1998. Maslow on Management. New York: John Wiley.

Morris, Desmond. Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviour. St Albans: Triad Panther, 1978.

Raghunathan, N. tr., Srimad Bhagavatam. Vols 1-2 (Madras: Vighneswara, 1976.

Rahner, Hugo. 1967. Man at Play New York: Herder and Herder.

Ramakrishna. 1974. Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna. 5th ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math.

Roberts, Ron, and David Groome, eds. 2001. Parapsychology. London: Arnold.

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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