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New Pathways in Psychology: Maslow & the Post-Freudian Revolution

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  65 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
Written with the "active & detailed cooperation of Abraham Maslow", the two of them having been friends & correspondents during the 1960s. Maslow worked together with Wilson to create this excellent study of Maslovian Psychology. New Pathways 1st reviews the history of psychology, providing a much-needed context for understanding the revolutionary nature of the "3r ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 28th 1972 by Taplinger Publishing Company (NY) (first published January 1st 1972)
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Erik Graff
Jan 03, 2014 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: persons interested in Maslow
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: psychology
The American psychologist Abraham Maslow took the unusual step of studying psychological health rather than pathology, thereby attracting the attention of Colin Wilson, an author devoted to the study of human potentialities. This book is an excellent introduction both to Maslow's work and to Wilson's obsession.
For a book on existential psychology from Descartes to Maslow (with a particular focus on Maslow, as the author carried a 10-year correspondence with him before his death), it was surprisingly enthralling. Wilson writes the way all brilliant minds should, never wasting a single sentence, packing every page full of information, referencing various philosophies, literary works, poems, and histories as examples or illustrations of his ideas. Although you feel as though your head might burst from th ...more
Eugene Pustoshkin
It could be a great addition to Ken Wilber’s INTEGRAL PSYCHOLOGY.
Steve Greenleaf
Feb 26, 2014 Steve Greenleaf rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
After writing my recent appreciation (and critique) of Colin Wilson, I found that one of my favorites books of his was available on Kindle, so I bought it and re-read it. I’m glad I did. It reminded me of what I find so valuable in Wilson (and it reminded me of some annoyances as well). This is Wilson at his best. He started the book as a biography of Abraham Maslow, with whom he met and corresponded, but it turned into more than that. In addition to it's appreciation of Maslow, it’s a history ...more
David Moore
Oct 11, 2013 David Moore rated it it was amazing
Excellent and highly recommended.
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Colin Henry Wilson was born and raised in Leicester, England, U.K. He left school at 16, worked in factories and various occupations, and read in his spare time. When Wilson was 24, Gollancz published The Outsider (1956) which examines the role of the social 'outsider' in seminal works of various key literary and cultural figures. These include Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Her ...more
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“What, in fact, do we know about the peak experience? Well, to begin with, we know one thing that puts us several steps ahead of the most penetrating thinkers of the 19th century: that P.E’.s are not a matter of pure good luck or grace. They don’t come and go as they please, leaving ‘this dim, vast vale of tears vacant and desolate’. Like rainbows, peak experiences are governed by definite laws. They are ‘intentional’.

And that statement suddenly gains in significance when we remember Thorndike’s discovery that the effect of positive stimuli is far more powerful and far reaching than that of negative stimuli. His first statement of the law of effect was simply that situations that elicit positive reactions tend to produce continuance of positive reactions, while situations that elicit negative or avoidance reactions tend to produce continuance of these. It was later that he came to realise that positive reactions build-up stronger response patterns than negative ones. In other words, positive responses are more intentional than negative ones.

Which is another way of saying that if you want a positive reaction (or a peak experience), your best chance of obtaining it is by putting yourself into an active, purposive frame of mind. The opposite of the peak experience—sudden depression, fatigue, even the ‘panic fear’ that swept William James to the edge of insanity—is the outcome of passivity. This cannot be overemphasised. Depression—or neurosis—need not have a positive cause (childhood traumas, etc.). It is the natural outcome of negative passivity.

The peak experience is the outcome of an intentional attitude. ‘Feedback’ from my activities depends upon the degree of deliberately calculated purpose I put into them, not upon some occult law connected with the activity itself. . . .

A healthy, perfectly adjusted human being would slide smoothly into gear, perform whatever has to be done with perfect economy of energy, then recover lost energy in a state of serene relaxation. Most human beings are not healthy or well adjusted. Their activity is full of strain and nervous tension, and their relaxation hovers on the edge of anxiety. They fail to put enough effort—enough seriousness—into their activity, and they fail to withdraw enough effort from their relaxation. Moods of serenity descend upon them—if at all—by chance; perhaps after some crisis, or in peaceful surroundings with pleasant associations. Their main trouble is that they have no idea of what can be achieved by a certain kind of mental effort.

And this is perhaps the place to point out that although mystical contemplation is as old as religion, it is only in the past two centuries that it has played a major role in European culture. It was the group of writers we call the romantics who discovered that a man contemplating a waterfall or a mountain peak can suddenly feel ‘godlike’, as if the soul had expanded. The world is seen from a ‘bird’s eye view’ instead of a worm’s eye view: there is a sense of power, detachment, serenity. The romantics—Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, Goethe, Schiller—were the first to raise the question of whether there are ‘higher ceilings of human nature’. But, lacking the concepts for analysing the problem, they left it unsolved. And the romantics in general accepted that the ‘godlike moments’ cannot be sustained, and certainly cannot be re-created at will. This produced the climate of despair that has continued down to our own time. (The major writers of the 20th century—Proust, Eliot, Joyce, Musil—are direct descendants of the romantics, as Edmund Wilson pointed out in Axel’s Castle.) Thus it can be seen that Maslow’s importance extends far beyond the field of psychology. William James had asserted that ‘mystical’ experiences are not mystical at all, but are a perfectly normal potential of human consciousness; but there is no mention of such experiences in Principles of Psychology (or only in passing).”
“At this point, I must describe an important study carried out by Clare W. Graves of Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. on deterioration of work standards. Professor Graves starts from the Maslow-McGregor assumption that work standards deteriorate when people react against workcontrol systems with boredom, inertia, cynicism... A fourteen-year study led to the conclusion that, for practical purposes, we may divide people up into seven groups, seven personality levels, ranging from totally selfpreoccupied and selfish to what Nietzsche called ‘a selfrolling wheel’-a thoroughly self-determined person, absorbed in an objective task. This important study might be regarded as an expansion of Shotover’s remark that our interest in the world is an overflow of our interest in ourselves—and that therefore nobody can be genuinely ‘objective’ until they have fully satiated the subjective cravings. What is interesting—and surprising—is that it should not only be possible to distinguish seven clear personality-ypes, but that these can be recognised by any competent industrial psychologist. When Professor Graves’s theories were applied in a large manufacturing organisation—and people were slotted into their proper ‘levels’—the result was a 17% increase in production and an 87% drop in grumbles.

The seven levels are labelled as follows:

(1) Autistic
(2) Animistic
(3) Awakening and fright
(4) Aggressive power seeking
(5) Sociocentric
(6) Aggressive individualistic
(7) Pacifist individualistic.

The first level can be easily understood: people belonging to it are almost babylike, perhaps psychologically run-down and discouraged; there is very little to be done with these people. The animistic level would more probably be encountered in backward countries: primitive, superstitious, preoccupied with totems and taboos, and again poor industrial material. Man at the third level is altogether more wide-awake and objective, but finds the complexity of the real world frightening; the best work is to be got out of him by giving him rules to obey and a sense of hierarchical security. Such people are firm believers in staying in the class in which they were born. They prefer an autocracy. The majority of Russian peasants under the Tsars probably belonged to this level. And a good example of level four would probably be the revolutionaries who threw bombs at the Tsars and preached destruction. In industry, they are likely to be trouble makers, aggressive, angry, and not necessarily intelligent. Management needs a high level of tact to get the best out of these. Man at level five has achieved a degree of security—psychological and economic—and he becomes seriously preoccupied with making society run smoothly. He is the sort of person who joins rotary clubs and enjoys group activities. As a worker, he is inferior to levels three and four, but the best is to be got out of him by making him part of a group striving for a common purpose.

Level six is a self-confident individualist who likes to do a job his own way, and does it well. Interfered with by authoritarian management, he is hopeless. He needs to be told the goal, and left to work out the best way to achieve it; obstructed, he becomes mulish.

Level seven is much like level six, but without the mulishness; he is pacifistic, and does his best when left to himself. Faced with authoritarian management, he either retreats into himself, or goes on his own way while trying to present a passable front to the management.

Professor Graves describes the method of applying this theory in a large plant where there was a certain amount of unrest. The basic idea was to make sure that each man was placed under the type of supervisor appropriate to his level. A certain amount of transferring brought about the desired result, mentioned above—increased production, immense decrease in grievances, and far less workers leaving the plant (7% as against 21% before the change).”
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