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Friday, June 5, 2015

REVIEW: Abraham Maslow

Source: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/maslow.html

Maslow  hierarchy of needs

1.  The physiological needs.  These include the needs we have for oxygen, water, protein, salt, sugar, calcium, and other minerals and vitamins.  They also include the need to maintain a pH balance (getting too acidic or base will kill you) and temperature (98.6 or near to it).  Also, there’s the needs to be active, to rest, to sleep, to get rid of wastes (CO2,  sweat, urine, and feces), to avoid pain, and to have sex.  Quite a collection!

2.  The safety and security needs.  When the physiological needs are largely taken care of, this second layer of needs comes into play.  You will become increasingly interested in finding safe circumstances, stability, protection.  You might develop a need for structure, for order, some limits.

Looking at it negatively, you become concerned, not with needs like hunger and thirst, but with your fears and anxieties.  

3.  The love and belonging needs.  When physiological needs and safety needs are, by and large, taken care of, a third layer starts to show up.  You begin to feel the need for friends, a sweetheart, children, affectionate relationships in general, even a sense of community.  Looked at negatively, you become increasing susceptible to loneliness and social anxieties.

4.  The esteem needs.  Next, we begin to look for a little self-esteem.  Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one.  The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, fame, glory, recognition, attention, reputation, appreciation, dignity, even dominance.  The higher form involves the need for self-respect, including such feelings as confidence, competence, achievement, mastery, independence, and freedom.  Note that this is the “higher” form because, unlike the respect of others, once you have self-respect, it’s a lot harder to lose!

The negative version of these needs is low self-esteem and inferiority complexes.  

All of the preceding four levels he calls deficit needs, or D-needs or Homeostasis

Homeostasis is the principle by which your furnace thermostat operates:  When it gets too cold, it switches the heat on;  When it gets too hot, it switches the heat off.  In the same way, your body, when it lacks a certain substance, develops a hunger for it;  When it gets enough of it, then the hunger stops.  

Maslow sees all these needs as essentially survival needs.  he calls them instinctoid -- instinct-like -- needs.

 “philosophy of the future” -- what would their ideal life or world be like -- and get significant information as to what needs they do or do not have covered.

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.


Self actualization

The last level is a bit different.  Maslow has used a variety of terms to refer to this level:  He has called it growth motivation (in contrast to deficit motivation), being needs (or B-needs, in contrast to D-needs), and self-actualization.

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-actualizers 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 unhostile 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 doesn’t think that self-actualizers are perfect, of course.  There were several flaws or imperfections he discovered along the way as well:  First, they often suffered considerable anxiety and guilt -- but realistic anxiety and guilt, rather than misplaced or neurotic versions.  Some of them were absentminded and overly kind.  And finally, some of them had unexpected moments of ruthlessness, surgical coldness, and loss of humor.

Two other points he makes about these self-actualizers:  Their values were "natural" and seemed to flow effortlessly from their personalities.  And they appeared to transcend many of the dichotomies others accept as being undeniable, such as the differences between the spiritual and the physical, the selfish and the unselfish, and the masculine and the feminine.

Metaneeds and metapathologies

Another way in which Maslow approach the problem of what is self-actualization is to talk about the special, driving needs (B-needs, of course) of the self-actualizers.  They need the following in their lives in order to be happy:

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.

When a self-actualizer doesn’t get these needs fulfilled, they respond with metapathologies -- a list of problems as long as the list of metaneeds.


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