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Toward a Psychology of Being

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"If we wish to help humans to become more fully human, we must realize not only that they try to realize themselves, but that they are also reluctant or afraid or unable to do so. Only by fully appreciating this dialectic between sickness and health can we help to tip the balance in favor of health." —Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow's theories of self-actualization and the hierarchy of human needs are the cornerstone of modern humanistic psychology, and no book so well epitomizes those ideas as his classic Toward a Psychology of Being.

A profound book, an exciting book, its influence continues to spread, more than a quarter century after its author's death, beyond psychology and throughout the humanities, social theory, and business management theory.

Of course, the book's enduring popularity stems from the important questions it raises and the answers it provides concerning what is fundamental to human nature and psychological well-being, and what is needed to promote, maintain, and restore mental and emotional well-being. But its success also has to do with Maslow's unique ability to convey difficult philosophical concepts with passion, precision, and astonishing clarity, and, through the power of his words, to ignite in readers a sense of creative joy and wholeness toward which we, as beings capable of self-actualization, strive.

This Third Edition makes Abraham Maslow's ideas accessible to a new generation of psychology students, as well as businesspeople, managers, and trainers interested in applying the study of human behavior to management techniques.

An energetic and articulate scholar, Professor Maslow was the author of more than twenty books, including Eupsychian Management; Psychology of Science; Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences; Motivation and Personality; and Principles of Abnormal Psychology (with B. Mittelmann). He also edited New Knowledge in Human Values and wrote nearly one hundred articles. His teachings continue to be a staple for psychologists and psychology students.

"Capacities clamor to be used, and cease their clamor only when they are well used. . . . Not only is it fun to use our capacities, but it is necessary for growth. The unused skill or capacity or organ can become a disease center or else atrophy or disappear, thus diminishing the person." —Abraham Maslow

Toward a Psychology of Being, Third Edition

Abraham Maslow doesn't pretend to have easy answers, absolutes, or solutions that bring the relief of finality—but he does have a deep belief in people. In this Third Edition of Toward a Psychology of Being (the original edition sold well over 100,000 copies), there is a constant optimistic thrust toward a future based on the intrinsic values of humanity. Professor Maslow states that, "This inner nature, as much as we know of it so far, seems not to be intrinsically evil, but rather either neutral or positively 'good.' What we call evil behavior appears most often to be a secondary reaction to frustration of this intrinsic nature." He demonstrates that human beings can be loving, noble, and creative, and are capable of pursuing the highest values and aspirations.

This Third Edition will bring Professor Maslow's ideas to a whole new generation of business and psychology readers, as well as anyone interested in the study of human behavior.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published November 30, 1961

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About the author

Abraham H. Maslow

46 books652 followers
In 1908, Abraham H. Maslow was born, the first of seven children, to immigrant Russian Jewish parents, in New York City. He received his BA in 1930, his MA in 1931 and his Ph.D in 1934, all in psychology, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Maslow taught full time at Brooklyn College, then at Brandeis, where he was named Chair of Psychology in 1951. Maslow, a humanist-based psychologist, is known for proposing the "hierarchy of needs" to be met so an individual can achieve "self-actualization." In analysing achievers, Maslow found they were reality-centered. Among his many books was Religion, Values and Peak-Experiences, which is not a freethought treatise, but which did not limit "peak experiences" to the religious or necessarily ascribe such phenomena to supernaturalism. In the book's introduction, Maslow warned that mystics may become "not only selfish but also evil," in single-mindedly pursuing personal salvation, often at the expense of others. Maslow was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association in 1967. D. 1970.

Later in life, Maslow was concerned with questions such as, "Why don't more people self-actualize if their basic needs are met? How can we humanistically understand the problem of evil?"

In the spring of 1961, Maslow and Tony Sutich founded the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, with Miles Vich as editor until 1971. The journal printed its first issue in early 1961 and continues to publish academic papers.

Maslow attended the Association for Humanistic Psychology’s founding meeting in 1963 where he declined nomination as its president, arguing that the new organization should develop an intellectual movement without a leader which resulted in useful strategy during the field’s early years.

On his religious views, Maslow was an atheist.

While jogging, Maslow suffered a severe heart attack and died on June 8, 1970 at the age of 62 in Menlo Park, California.

More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_...





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Profile Image for Miquixote.
269 reviews45 followers
May 13, 2021
Most of us have heard of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

But do most of us apply it?

First we need to fulfill our physiological needs. Next we need security (this includes health, employment, family). Thirdly we need love and a sense of belongingness. Fourthly we need respect of/from others for a healthy self-esteem.

The ultimate step is self-actualization: fulfillment of the person's potential. Maslow estimates that less than 1% of the population reach this peak.

The fact that so few achieve this might make one wonder if our world is actually a dsytopia...

Along that vein, we need to consider that at least 80% of the world's population doesn't fulfill their own physiological needs. But for the purpose of this examination let's at least try to assume that most of the 1st world can pass the first level of physiological needs.

Proceeding to the next level ie. to job, health or material needs , and depending on which 1st world country you are talking about while eliminating economic fictions: there are between 20 and 40% of the 1st world population either unemployed or have given up trying to find work. Of course the underemployed and underpaid will also raise that percentage substantially.

Let's once again imagine that these were somehow brought down to manageable numbers, and proceed to the next level: that of belongingness or love. One needs to go no further than the divorce rate in North America as a firm indicator(which is 50%) that the family is a quickly rotting institution and realize that love and belongingness are not exactly thriving institutions either. A community spirit is not exactly jumping up and down to replace the more or less anti-social family either.

Considering the reality of how few people actually fulfill the first 3 levels, reaching the 4th, that of respect of and from others is fairly unlikely.

So, does anyone actually have physiological, material, belongingness and esteem neeeds fulfilled? As Maslow says, yes... but less than about 1%.

So what relevance does this have if it only applies to the 1%?

Only the relevance of aiming for the top, of emulating the few. However, all of this may just come across as a sort of inequality of need satisfaction. But it does explain why depression, apathy, anomie is at an all-time high. One significantly disturbing part of this conclusion is that if only 1% is self-actualized, the possibibility of a healthy reform or revolution of the system is certainly nill, unless power is firmly established in the hands of the 1%. Wait a second, it is in the hands of a different 1%. Brushing off the coincidence of those two same numbers of hopefully distinct groups, the reality is that self-actualized people generally do not prioritize worldly power. 'Twould seem we have a dilemna...

If we can however somehow ignore all this pessimism (realism?) and focus on the self-actualization learned from the lucky 1%, and concentrate on somehow attempting to apply it to the the other 99%, we would have to start with understanding what exactly self-actualization means.

It appears to be something like: truthful, spontaneous, problem-solving stamina geared outside oneself, combined with acceptance of oneself and others, and of course being unprejudiced in the process.

Sounds simple doesn't it? Well, that is deceptive, because we can't mistake this as impulsive, whimsical stuff, or use this as an excuse for being irresponsible... it actually means profound growth not superficial dancing from shallow experience to experience...

We can't just change our image of ourself and expect profound change. Apparently a lot of people (after reading Maslow) imagine they are already self-actualized. We tend to confuse the concept, the image, or the idea of self-actualization with the reality. If you agree with the ideas of what constitutes self-actualization and you think you are those, you must be, right? Wrong...As we all know, it is so easy to fool ourselves.

From the other side of the coin, when the person is so conscious of reality or unreality of their growth it becomes another form of nagging conscience. A new morality. Are you growing constantly, are you self-actualized yet?

But really, this anti-moral criticism is flawed. What is the problem with having morals? From one point of view, against morality is post-modernist moral-relativity hogwash. Extreme moral relativity is more of a problem than having morals.

So even if we assume that morals are not necessarily self-defeating, the self-actualizing individual should not only develop a localized sense of morality, he must transcend the environment as much as possible. Morals are still needed. The moral Maslow is trying to get across is one emphasizing the right to autonomous morals that do not negate the foundation of being a social creature.
Maslow then does acknowledge the problem of moralizing. He recognizes the dialectic nature of environment/personal growth: personal growth is of course dependent on the basic needs provided by the environment before self-actualization can occur.

Another interpretative issue of Maslow's theories could be the idea of self-actualization as a finality, like there is no more growth, only a means to an end. Maslow avoids this critique by suggesting that growth should be considered as 'an end' instead of a means.

However, alot of these kinds of debates are actually semantics. A self-actualized person is a person who is constantly growing, so in reality is never 'finished' growing. There is no such thing as a literal 'self-actualized' person then, it is more like being AND becoming...

You can really play the dialectic game here.

Maslow makes it very clear that 'Being' is your ideal, 'Becoming' the concretized classical form. Really you can't live without the other. So dialecticize Being-cognition and Deficiency-cognition and you have a dialecticized life, not one that escapes reality or one that escapes growth. Accept the paradox and destroy the dichotomies that Maslow says we must all overcome to self-actualize.

Except there always exist dichotomies in the dsytopic societies we live in. For example, what about the apparent reality of class war, something that hasn't been successfully dialecticized by many psychologists? In fact, the idea that there exists a class war that may not be able to be harmonized is anathema to most psychologists. For mainstream psychology to become intellectually viable and not simply escapist and individualistic, it has to somehow learn to harmonize the social realities and contradictions of the world situation, not just the individual. The Achilles' heel of mainstream psychology? However, it is true that we can't minimize the importance of the individual either. From either side of the coin, we can't dichotomize the individual against the environments we live in.

Another important issue with psychological books in general, this one included, is that they don't seem to be too comfortable with dialecticizing abstract theory and pragmatics. Maslow atacks abstract theorizing at various points in this book(and perhaps gives himself somewhat of an anti-intellectual feel in the process). In doing so he appears to fetishize concrete (or pragmatic) expression. The irony being that as Maslow criticizes abstract theorizing and says that it always cuts up things that can't be cut up, by writing he is doing the same. The eternal paradox and dialectic: use of language, the more complex the idea, the tendency towards more abstract language. It is so imperfect, yet still so needed. So why attack abstract language? Could just be the seemingly eternal resentment that psychologists have towards sociology (of course it works both ways). The accusation that sociology is not pragmatic no longer makes sense though, as 'Applied Sociology' is all the rage and often and predictably anti-theory as well. Ah, the eternal debate between theory and practice...

But until these dichotomies are dialetectized more consistently, most psychology will remain flawed, and also of course certain types of sociology (when they dichotomize in the contrary way).

Maslow however, at his best, does realize and overcome a very important yet artificial dichotomy(and explain the real dialectical relation) between the individual and society, with his pyramid of needs, by acknowledging the pre-potence of social support for independent thought.

Maslow doesn't allow for environmental excuses either, making it very clear that adults need to lean on their social support system far less than children, and emphasizing the very definition of self-actualization as an enhanced sense of independence.

This book is very important, it is a break away from focussing on mental illness (without underestimating its power) and instead on possibilities. It gives hope for individuals to understand themselves better and do our best without ignoring the power of society. The hierarchy of needs is in fact still fundamental to develomental educational theory.

Maslow also brought an aura of respect to religion with his theory of peak experiences, while not allowing for the dogma that religion is the sole zone of peak experience.

He was an important scholar for business as well. Try not to blame him for the too-often hypocritically followed and still current Human Resources dogma of positive thinking while you are being sacked, having 'your cheese moved', enduring flexible work schedules, etc.

In the end though, this is pretty much as good a mainstream psychology book as I have read, up there with 'On Becoming a Person' by Carl Rogers (in fact the overriding message is very similar to Roger's client-centered therapy).

But Maslow, as already mentioned, doesn't get into the class war/poverty picture, or a more international psychological/political picture, (neither does Rogers). That is something you can only get from braving broader and deeper masterworks such as: 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed', by Paulo Freire or 'The Wretched of the Earth' by Franz Fanon.

Profile Image for Erik Graff.
4,984 reviews1,083 followers
May 5, 2016
I'd been introducted to Abraham Maslow in a Grinnell College seminar on Humanistic Psychology sponsored by the Department of Religion. My interest in psychology had started two years before when draft resistance and threats of prosecution had led to a year's leave from school. Securing a series of undemanding jobs, I had plenty of time to study, beginning with what I thought was the beginning of modern psychotherapeutics, i.e. the depth psychologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The interest in psychology was very personal. I'd been generally unhappy since changing towns and school districts in the fifth grade, an alienated unhappiness exacerbated by adolescence and by an inability to find a moral center of stability.

Until the end of sophomore year of high school I had basically no friends, no true friends, but I had plenty of adversaries in the persons of a few bullies who were irritated by me. Why one of them found it necessary to beat me up regularly was never clear. I was extremely small, only 4'11", and skinny, so it was easy. I wore glasses, probably came across as bookish, certainly wasn't athletic. Although obsessed with girls, I was timid around most of them. The consensus seemed to be that I was, as they commonly said, "a faggot".
To make it worse, I was also "a nigger lover"--a result of my upbringing.

The first two friends, Richard and Hank, were classmates and the friendships began at school, first in the classroom, where we were actually interested in what we studied, and secondly in the extracurricular activities of the school's social science club to which Richard's elder brother belonged. There I met a whole bunch of upperclassmen with intellectual interests with whom I could relate, at first, on the basis of ideas and idealism. It was the sixties and with few exceptions the idealism took a leftist direction quite compatible with my nigger-loving family background. These, the members of Tri-S, were a tiny but tight minority in a school of 4000.

As the sixties and the war escalated more persons became countercultural, few of them as political as the members of our club, but the groups, still a small minority, mingled and my circle of friends broadened. I was by this time a committed political activist, but still I felt the lack of a moral center. My politics were based on emotional factors, but tastes and emotions, while sufficient unto friendship, were not adequate to the daily struggle of trying to convert those outside of our circles to oppose imperialism or to support civil rights or national health care. Most people, even myself, seemed conditioned, habit-driven and narrowly hedonistic. In our self-satisfied middle class suburb even those who turned towards the counterculture were, more often than not, driven to it by the simple desires not to be drafted and not to be arrested for pot. My studies, most of which occurred outside of any syllabi, intensified.

My own politics were suspect because they weren't far from those of my parents. Further, given that they had provided an "in" to what had become my set of friends, it was clearly in my interest to maintain a leftist pose. But were we right? Even within the compass of discourse on the Left there were major questions like the arguments between advocates of pacifism and the advocates of revolutionary violence, between practicing radical libertarians (drugs, sex and rock'n'roll)and those, like myself, who tended to cling to more conventional ethics.

While this intellectual ferment intensified, so did one aspect of my, now habitual, unhappiness. I had friends and that was good, but I'd never, not even nearly, had a girlfriend. Everyone else seemed to have experience with the dating game, but I, still convinced that I was exceptionally unattractive, was not even a player except in my overheated imagination. All of this carried on to college: the politics, the moral doubt, the despair.

Thus it was that dropping out was almost a blessing. I needed to slow down, to ground myself, to grow up. I had been reading a lot of history, political theory, sociology--books about the public world. Now I would read books about psychology, philosophy and religion--the private world. I also, during that year, had my first real romantic relationship with a girl, a relationship founded on, yes, politics and, better, friendship.

Coming back to college, my draft board having been torched and their prosecution of me being forgotten, I now had a whole new host of interests, psychology and philosophy prominent among them. The intial study of the continental depth psychologists had expanded into interests in existential, phenomenological and other, more humanistic, theories. This is where Maslow came in.

Unlike most of the psychologists I'd read, whose books primarily focused on mental dis-eases even worse than mine, Maslow, like Erich Fromm and a few others, focused on asking what mental health was and how it occurred. An American, he was characteristically concerned about developing means to measure and describe it, much as factoral analysis led to the development of an intelligence quotient. This (rather dubiously optimistic) "scientific" approach was enough at that time to challenge my deep-rooted resistances to the notion of happiness being something worth seeking. It worked partly because he didn't always use the "happy" word. Instead, he wrote about "peak experiences" and "self-actualization"--the latter even contextualized so as to suggest that it was compatible with, even supported by, a concern for others. In any case, I was impressed.

One night, home from school on a break, I was walking south down Vine Street towards the parental home, when I had a strange feeling. Something felt different. I felt different. What was it? A customary heaviness about the eyes and the chest had lightened up. The depression which had been my baseline for years had lifted.

Naturally, this made me uneasy...

Profile Image for John.
1 review2 followers
June 2, 2012
I believe I first read Maslow's 'Toward a psychology of being' in the mid sixties, and in the early seventies portions came to mind for my dissertation.

I recommend this book for those with difficulty comprehending their position in life. In the sixth grade I was listening to two boys having an argument. Soon, I realized it was not the argument it seemed, but an attempt by both to seem 'better' than the other, possibly for the benefit of the crowd who was likely to judge them. This opened my eyes as I had been wondering, as do many young people, as to my position in life.

This book is based in existentialistic philosophy (a doctrine that is formed around the free existence of the individual as a responsible being who can, through development of 'the self', create the individual he or she will become and live their life as) or the ability to utilize self-determinism (and also to an extent, self-training) to become the person you want to be, to understand that person and accept the position you have chosen, and to be fully self actualized within that position... gracefully, enjoyably, comfortably, in a fully aware state and capable of accepting who you are, as you are, without the need of concern or compromise.

Or, as I saw it at the time, the ability to live my life by choice, not by social convention.

You see, many who go into psychology make that choice based on the desire to understand themselves. I went into psychology for a slightly different reason, and that was a desire to understand others. I already thought I understood myself, but that argument those boys had confused me and brought to mind one aspect of why I found people so strangely confusing.

I had noticed early in life that I was different. I was more intelligent, but because of a hatefully condescending stepfather I was unaware of the actual differences between myself and others for many more years. My (evil toward me) stepfather continued to confuse things through his constant determination to consider me the lowest form of life on the planet and the stupidest as well.

When I was a bit older, I found the need to study people to learn why it was they seemed to so often find the need to feel poorly about themselves. I wondered why the majority of people felt the need to rationalize or defend every little thing that came up in favor of themselves, and also why so many had to lie.

I lied to my stepfather only because I had found that by using the truth I was often called a liar, but by lying, I could avoid the painful position created by attempting logic and reason on him. Often this was a physical position--bent over the bed with my bare little butt receiving his very heavy leather belt delivered by a large strong man at full swing until I felt no pain because my bum was numb. Often I could not sit on it for weeks or until the scabs finally fell off and it healed. Today, he would be jailed for child abuse. Also today, I probably would have used that snub-nosed 38 he carried in his shoulder holster on him. Things were different in the 40's and 50's.

So, my first book on psychology was Maslow's and for no other reason than the red and black (paperback) cover that looked as if it was torn. I found it invaluable, not so much in comprehending others, but in realizing what was possibly available to me in life.

Later, in high school one of the counselors asked me what I wanted to be in my life. I found that a strange question as I was only a kid, and I thought I was too youthful (and without sufficient experience to know) to have an accurate answer. How could a person my age know the answer to such an important question unless I simply guessed. Additionally, I had no idea of what was available. I knew perhaps 100 different jobs, but theorized that there must be many more.

I had heard something from a good friend who was the principal of a high school in a different district. He was a great guy and we would spend hours talking; and this one day he told me his ideal job would be as the guardian of a giant and ancient sequoia on the grounds of a large university. He thought it would be an important job, but also liked the idea of all the coeds. I considered that too but did not give it as my choice of a major. A strange occurrence, his son, who was a few years my junior did become the janitor of a university in northern California after earning several Ph.D's.

I know, how does a high school sophomore have a high school principal as a good friend? I am asked that a lot. believe me, it was easy. I was a prodigy and most of my friends were older, and this guy was a magnificent person. If you recall the TV series called "The odd couple" Bud Woods was just like the slovenly character Oscar Madison (played by jack Klugman) but Bud was real. Oh, for his work, he dressed and shaved, but on the weekends, when I would visit, he dressed slouchy, never shaved, and had that characters lack of concern for attention to himself. I loved him.

So, without knowing what i wanted i asked if there was a "Big book of jobs" I could look at before answering, and that only received a laughing response from the four people in that office who heard it. I'm certain they remembered it with humor, but i was deadly serious--as others behind me have been.

Sadly, that information was not available, nor was information like the contents of Maslow's book. While published back then, it was not considered reasonable reading for a high school kid because in those times little attention was given to people like myself.

I gave "Doctor" as my major as I thought I wanted to study psychology and I could use that as a psychiatrist. I had not considered some of the things required of doctors however and as a medical student I learned of the enormous hourly commitment and some other aspects and changed it to psychology. I want to work hard, do not get me wrong, but I had read Maslow by then and realized that I could live my life as I wished and was not required to follow socially acceptable directives.

So, my review is more of a what I GOT from Maslow rather than what it meant to me. I provided this for a solid reason and will explain in a moment.

I was somewhat confused by what I had seen of life, by all the confusion and the unusual approaches to things "because they are hard" as people thought; things I considered so easy. Recall, i did not realize I was extremely intelligent. I was not to learn this for another ten years, and then another five to be capable of correctly ascertaining the extent to which this was true, and more yet to know part of the causes for the lack of intelligence in people.

My final result (after a Ph.D. and working as a scientist in behavioral Psychology) was that people are not provided reality in life. They grow up accepting not what can be, but what others tell them it must be. Sadly, this often comes from the Christian religion, which is extreme in the amount of mental retardation it places on people as it teaches many to stop thinking and to just have "faith" which is the Christian way of saying "don't think" just accept what we say, and do not consider science because it's wrong--listen to your preacher instead.

Certainly that sort of advice (and to many, it's demanded) doesn't leave children the openings or the possibilities of thought that might better serve them later in life. The demands of the Christian Bible is built on developing fear, not open possibilities. The result is a child, and later, an adult, who has never learned logic or reality. They are grown on superstition 2000 years out of date and entirely incorrect for this age.

Sure, perhaps 2000 years ago, during the Bronze age, we did need superstition. It kept us from curling into a quivering ball, while the concept of life after death as well as a large and powerful tribe gave us the ability to fight hard to have our place in a very warlike world. Today however, it is much different. Through solid thinkers like Maslow and the concept that we can be all we can possible be, realize this, accept it, and feel good about our station in life regardless of whatever it it is, plus the advances of sciences like geography and biology we know the size, the lay of the land, and the dangers of the world. We don't need the dangers that superstition now brings us.

Regretfully, the church, because it has become so wealthy and because the demands of greed and positions of power and influence are so attainable in the church, is unwilling to reveal these secrets to the world. So religion (Christianity) continues much as it was long ago--except that the church has now hired psychologists like myself to assist in the continuing advancement of the Christian method of coercive persuasion or highly developed brainwashing in the hopes of gaining even more unnecessary wealth.

The best approach to life is not that addle brained superstition called religion, but knowledge and the ability to use logic. Reading Maslow requires logical comprehension, and reading and understanding this book can open the way for you far better than any silly ancient superstition.

Reading Maslow provides insight into what he studied in psychology, which is certainly different, and thankfully so. Maslow studied what makes people well, or what is it that well people have that provides so much for them. Reading his books--and especially this one, gives to the reader and understanding of what can be gained in life and how to do it.

I highly recommend this and all of his books.
Profile Image for Tim.
493 reviews21 followers
April 20, 2018
This was a fascinating book, and I can see why people have discussed it reverently for years. It is more than just a psychology book (and less than one too), and can also be described as a philosophical discourse on what personal qualities make up an ideal human being. Maslow is popular with integral thinkers, and I have been reading a couple of those lately. That is what made me reach for this, althou I have wanted to read something of his for a long time. Probably the integral people like him because his developmental model of human growth is in some ways similar to theirs.

Maslow took a look at psychology's ways of evaluating people, and realized they were primarily based on what was wrong with people, what they were lacking, what they were failing at. He decided to consider what actually makes for a healthy, fully realized human psyche. There are two basic models presented here. One is the deficit model (or D cognition in his terms) - this is your average (or below average), mostly dissatisfied person, who constantly looks at life in terms of deficits, who is always struggling to get a hold of what he is missing, and who constantly acts out of fear. Opposed to this is the truly thriving person, the self-actualizing person (Maslow invented this term which is now in the public discourse). This individual acts from a being model (or B cognition). They take on life's challenges fearlessly and joyously, they find happiness in their efforts and expressions, and are not weighed down by neuroses or social expectations (although they are able to function well within their societies). These people are relatively rare, and make up around 1% of the population.

It is fascinating and inspiring to read Maslow's ideas, but there are some drawbacks involved. For one, this is not a scientific study. It is a series of essays and talks that he gave over a couple of years. Maslow was a psychologist (mostly an academic one, I think) but his writing here stems mostly from his speculations and not from clinical observations. Also, this self-actualization we are all aiming for is the top rung on his (also well-known) hierarchy of needs. So before you can begin actualizing yourself, you need to have your lower order needs nailed down - food, a roof over your head, a reasonable amount of resources, et cetera. It got me wondering if self-actualized happiness would forever be denied to those who are poor, or who have to struggle with serious problems, like medical conditions for example. This is contrary of course to what the great religions teach us--that enlightenment is not dependent on material conditions or a secure social position.

Also Maslow fails to tell us much about what we can do in order to become self-actualized and develop minds that work mostly in B-cognition mode. He neglects to provide any full portraits of these fully realized individuals, and chooses instead to discuss the qualities they possess - positive outlooks, willingness to help others, and so forth. You may find yourself wondering if you are a part of this elite group, and if not, whether you ever will be and what you need to do to arrive there. It still makes for interesting reading, though. Maslow describes things in a clear and intelligent manner. He sets up some wonderful, mostly internal, goals for us to pursue, even if he does not offer much advice on how to attain them.
Profile Image for Kalle Wescott.
793 reviews8 followers
October 4, 2015
Maslow's hierarchy of needs as theorized in 1943 had five levels of needs, and one can only fulfill the next level up in the pyramid once you've fulfilled the foundation of the need below it.

In order, Maslow's original 5 levels were Physiological, Safety, Social, Esteem, and then the top level, Self-Actualization.

Maslow's later writings added more levels, and this later book builds upon the theories, especially about how to get the most out of your life.

Should be required reading.
Profile Image for Jana Light.
Author 1 book39 followers
January 16, 2016
In _Toward a Psychology of Being_, Maslow addresses two gaps he saw in the behaviorist and psychoanalytic psychologies of his time. He claims psychoanalytic thought erroneously assumes neuroses to be fundamental to humanity, rather than existential "illnesses" that have replaced a priori existential health, and that behaviorism erroneously assumes humans are too much of a blank slate, not allowing for a real, unique, persistent "self." Maslow, creating the field of humanistic or positive psychology, argues that each person is a fundamental, healthy, unique, persistent self and he sets about trying to define what that looks like in the Western world. (He incorporates elements of Eastern spirituality and touches briefly on Eastern cultural influences, but his analysis is very much Western-based.)

In general, I would describe Maslow's definition of the healthy (or "self-actualized") person as one who is able to unify the dichotomies in herself and in the world around her by both becoming and being her essential, authentic self. The self-actualization process involves addressing our existential sicknesses and neuroses as cureable, as well as constantly learning about ourselves, the influences of the world and cultures around us, and others. Maslow applies these two components to almost all aspects of human life (faith, relationships, work, etc.) and creates a rather comprehensive framework of what "self-actualized" looks like. At times it seemed as if he were trying to provide psychologists and therapists with a blueprint for what they should aim for with clients and how the optimal therapeutic process should unfold.

A somewhat odd but interesting effort Maslow also makes is his defense of a purely humanistic morality, one that doesn't require a higher authority to provide the "ought" from the "is." His arguments were interesting, but not convincing. It felt like it reached a little into a philosophical territory in which he wasn't as adept, and even felt a little out of place. Morality certainly has a deep connection to authenticity (in my opinion), but I don't think that connection was well-developed enough here to make that section fit within the overall framework Maslow was assembling.

Finally, I really appreciated how upfront Maslow is about the fact that most of his claims are based on observation rather than testing (obvious, since he doesn't cite many studies). He also seems careful to present claims that are, in fact, testable -- encouraging rigorous scientific development of the new field. I will be interested to read how the field of humanistic/positive psychology developed after this book.

Maslow is most famous for his "hierarchy of needs," but I think this book and the ideas in it are deserving of equal attention. As an alternative perspective to behaviorism and psychoanalysis, this book is a gem. As a welcome discussion of what a renowned psychologist saw as the healthiest kind of person, it is very motivating and, dare I say, helpful.
Profile Image for Tsvetelina Mareva.
245 reviews73 followers
October 5, 2018
Тази книга ми даде много. Спокойно мога да я окачествя с един от ключовите термини, които Маслоу въвежда, а именно "върхово преживяване", по време на което виждаш действителността, а и себе си, по-ясно и непреднамерено, както той казва "немотивирано" (т. е. света сам за себе си, а не с оглед на ползите, които ти носи на теб). Това е най-мащабният труд на Маслоу, който се счита за един от основателите на хуманистичната психология, така че ще ми е невъзможно да отбележа всичко, което ме впечатли. Всички знаем за йерархията на човешките потребности на Маслоу. Най-общо казано той ги разделя на две групи - мотивация на дефицита и мотивация на растежа. Най-висшето ниво е стремежът към себеактуализация, осъзнатост, зрелост, индивидуация или най-общо казано пълно осъществяване на всички заложби, с които се раждаме. Пътят към себеактуализацията са т. нар. "върхови преживявания", които водят до т. нар. Б-познание (познание за Битието) - "познанието на обекта сам по себе си, в собственото му Битие, без отношение към потребностно-задоволяващите или потребностно-фрустриращите му качества, без връзка на първо място с ценността му за наблюдателя или с последиците за него".

Някои от основните теории, които ме спечелиха в тази книга, бяха:

1. Човешката агресия, враждебност, разрушително поведение е реактивна, а не инстиктоидна (както твърдят фройдистите) и се дължи на фрустрация или незадоволяване на дефицитно-мотивирани потребности. Те могат да бъдат физиологични, потребност от защита, безопасност, сигурност, принадлежност към семейство, общност, клан, привързаност, любов, уважение, самоуважение, почит, достойнство, одобрение.
2. Вътрешноприсъщите ни заложби, способности, таланти имат нужда да бъдат осъществени и изразени. Средата може да им помогне или възпрепятства. Ако не бъдат изразени, това може да доведе до неврози и дори соматични заболявания.
3. Стремежът към растеж и себеактуализация е равнозначен на психично здраве.

Много научих от тази книга. Предполагам, че за специалистите по психология има доста спорни моменти в теориите на Маслоу, но мисля, че за себе си извлякох много ценни неща.
Profile Image for Joel.
134 reviews
June 16, 2022
This book, and Maslow's contributions to modern psychological theory, are 5-star important. He was among the key figures to stretch the scope of the Western model of human psychodynamics beyond Freud's influential theories, which Maslow considered to be "drives psychology". Maslow was publishing at a crucial time for North American psychology & psychotherapy.

I have no quibble with Maslow's view of what supports human health, still I feel there's ample evidence that "peak experiences" do come to individuals even when some of their first four 'needs' or 'levels' are shaky or threatened.

Maslow's research biblio, and his mentions in the book's text, reveal how out-of-the box were his interests and concepts; besides the writings of then-newer (but established) thinkers in the fields of psychology or psychiatry than the Freudians & Neo-Freudians, he was taking seriously the books of Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, Gardner Murphy, Wilhelm Reich, Alan Watts, Krishnamurti, Roberto Assagioli, and many others whose work was considered unorthodox or definitely outré to the profession.

Maslow's teaching, writing, and lectures were instrumental in a cascade of innovations & shifts in post-WWII psychology & therapy. And it occurs to me that way back in the early 1960s (and probably before) Maslow was blazing a path to the field of a new 'reality paradigm' for people like Stan Grof, Jean Houston, Fritjof Capra, Ken Wilber, and so on.
Profile Image for Evisa.
53 reviews1 follower
August 14, 2019
This book presents some good insights on understanding what Maslow considers a “self-actualized” person.

However, one aspect that hit me the most, was the definition of creativity - nicely put by Maslow in this passage:

“ I learned from her, and others like her, that a first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting, and that, generally, cooking or parenthood or making a home could be creative while poetry need not be; it could be uncreative.”

What a refreshing definition!
Profile Image for Beth G.
145 reviews36 followers
December 26, 2021
A wonderful, insightful book. I'll have to come back later and update this review with detailed notes, since I wrote quite a lot of them while reading.

In short: For teachers, reading Maslow is a two-fer. His writing will help you better understand students' growth and development while also shining a light on patterns you may have noticed in your own life and relationships.

You should have a basic understanding of the hierarchy of needs before you begin, but I don't think you need any other pre-reqs to appreciate and enjoy this book.
Profile Image for David.
69 reviews1 follower
July 26, 2015
Difficult to get through because of the density of information and involved concepts it dealt with, but extremely rewarding and insightful. I came away with a better understanding of humanistic psychology, myself, and humanity in general. It's a shame that Maslow's often reduced to "the hierarchy of needs guy," because even though that little pyramid is symbolic of his theories, he had a lot more really amazing things to say.
Profile Image for Matthew Murphy.
22 reviews12 followers
April 3, 2020
This book is absolutely foundational.

"The human being is simultaneously that which he is and that which he yearns to be."

1. We have, each one of us, an essential inner nature.
2. These are potentialities, not final actualizations.
3. This inner core is weak in certain senses rather than strong. It is easily repressed.
4. Many aspects of this inner, deeper nature are either actively or passively repressed, creating sickness.
5. No psychological health is possible unless this essential core of the person is fundamentally accepted."

"But these needs or values are related to each other in a hierarchical and developmental way, in an order of strength and of priority. Safety is a more pressing, more vital need than love, for instance, and the need for food is usually stronger than either. Furthermore, all these basic needs may be considered to be simply steps along the path to general self-actualization, under which all basic needs can be subsumed."

On Self-Actualization or Fulfillment:

"This something real I believe is the total collapse of all sources of values outside the individual. Many European existentialists are largely reacting to Nietzsche’s conclusion that God is dead. The Americans have learned that political democracy and economic prosperity don’t in themselves solve any of the basic value problems. There’s no place else to turn but inward, to the self, as the locus of values."

"The twofold nature of man, his lower and his higher, his creatureliness and his god-likeness. Most philosophies and religions, Eastern as well as Western, have dichotomized them, teaching that the way to become “higher”is to renounce and master “the lower.”The existentialists, however, teach that both axe simultaneously defining characteristics of human nature. Neither can be repudiated; they can only be integrated."

"As all trees need sun, water, and foods, so do all people need safety, love and status. However, this is just where real development of individuality can begin, for once satiated with these necessities, each tree and person develops in his own style, uniquely, using these necessities for his own purposes. In a very meaningful sense, development then becomes more determined from within rather than from without."

"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. The creator becomes one with his work being created, the appreciator becomes the music or the painting, or the dance. That is, the greatest attainment of identity, autonomy, a transcending of itself, a going beyond and above selfhood. The person can then become relatively egoless."

On Education:

"To be able to choose in accord with his own nature, the child must be permitted to retain the subjective experience as the criteria of the correct choice for him. The alternative criterion is making the choice in terms of the wish of another person. The Self is lost when this happens, restricting the choice to safety alone, since the child will give up trust in his own delight-criterion out of fear of losing love."

"The absence of love certainly stifles potentialities and even kills them. Personal growth demands courage, self-confidence, even daring; and non-love from the parent or the mate produces the opposite, self-doubt, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and expectations of ridicule, all inhibitors of growth and of self-actualization."

On Perception:

"Abstractions, to the extent that they are useful, are also false. In a word, to perceive an object abstractly means not to perceive some aspects of it. It clearly implies selection of some attributes, rejection of other attributes, creation or distortion of still others. We make of it what we wish. We create it. We manufacture it."

"Do we see the real, concrete world or do we see our own system of rubrics, motives, expectations and abstractions which we have projected onto the real world?"

"Furthermore, extremely important is the strong tendency in abstracting to relate the aspects of the object to our linguistic system. This makes special troubles because language is a secondary rather than a primary process in the Freudian sense, because it deals with external reality rather than psychic reality, with the conscious rather than the unconscious."

"Secondary processes deal with the real world outside the unconscious. Logic, science, common sense, good adjustment, enculturation, responsibility, planning, rationalism are all secondary process techniques.
The rules by which the unconscious works (primary processes) can be seen most clearly in dreams. Wishes and fears are the primary movers for the Freudian mechanisms."

"One cannot compare two objects which have nothing in common. Furthermore for two objects to have something in common means necessarily abstraction, such qualities as redness, roundness, heaviness, etc. But if we perceive a person without abstracting, if we insist upon perceiving all his attributes simultaneously and as necessary to each other, then we no longer can classify. This means greater validity of perception."

On Evil, or Dependency:

"A kind of pseudo-growth takes place very commonly when the person tries (by repression, denial, reaction-formation, etc.) to convince himself that an ungratified basic need has really been gratified, or doesn’t exist. He then permits himself to grow on to higher-need-levels, which of course, forever after, rest on a very shaky foundation. Such a need perseverates forever as an unconscious force, repetition compulsion"

"He does not know in advance that he will strive on after this gratification has come, and that gratification of one basic need opens consciousness to domination by another, “higher” need. So far as he is concerned, the absolute, ultimate value, synonymous with life itself, is whichever need in the hierarchy he is dominated by during a particular period."

"Throughout history, learned men have set out before mankind the rewards of virtue, the beauties of goodness and self-fulfillment, and yet most people refuse to step into the happiness that is offered them. Nothing is left to the teachers but irritation, impatience, and hopelessness. A good many have thrown up their hands altogether and talked about original sin, that man could be saved only by extra-human forces."

"We know much about why men do wrong things, why they bring about their own unhappiness and their self destruction, why they are perverted and sick. And out of this has come the insight that human evil is largely (though not altogether) human weakness or ignorance, forgivable, understandable and also curable."

"Immaturity can be contrasted with maturity from the motivational point of view, as the process of gratifying the deficiency-needs in their proper order."

On Culture and Values:

"A teacher or a culture doesn’t create a human being. It doesn’t implant within him the ability to love, or to be curious, or to philosophize, or to symbolize, or to be creative. Rather it permits, or fosters, or encourages or helps what exists in embryo to become real and actual.
The culture is sun and food and water: it is not the seed."

By taking these data into account, we can solve many value problems that philosophers have struggled with ineffectually for centuries. For one thing, it looks as if there were a single ultimate value for mankind, a far goal toward which all men strive.

"There has been a special tendency in Western culture, historically determined, to assume that these instinctoid needs of the human being, his so-called animal nature, are bad or evil. As a consequence, many cultural institutions are set up for the express purpose of controlling, inhibiting, suppressing and repressing this original nature of man."

"Einstein, a highly specialized person in his last years, was made possible by his wife, by Princeton, by friends, etc. Einstein could give up versatility, and self-actualize because other people did for him. He might have become anxious and inferior over his demonstrated incapacities, or he might have slipped back to living at the D-need level."

"From this point of view, a society or a culture can be either growth fostering or growth-inhibiting. The sources of growth and of humanness are essentially within the human person and are not created or invented by society, which can only help or hinder the development of humanness.
The “better”culture gratifies all basic human needs and permits self-actualization. The “poorer”cultures do not."

"Growth is, in itself, a rewarding and exciting process."
Profile Image for Gökçe.
79 reviews15 followers
May 28, 2020
Maslow’un görüşlerinin ihtiyaçlar hiyerarşisi piramidinden ibaret olmadığını görmek, onu çok daha derinlemesine anlamak için çok iyi bir kitaptı.
Profile Image for Abby.
120 reviews28 followers
May 24, 2019
This book is a dense, academic, psychology text. It's no beach read, and it took me a while to get through. I think that's good to know going into it and if you're thinking about reading it.

I learned so much from this book about humanness, about psychology, about neurosis, about peak-experiences. There was SO MUCH. I can't even begin to summarize what I learned or what this book was going for, which is probably why Maslow ended up with such a long and confusing title in the first place. There are things I learned in this book that are going to stick with me for a very, very long time, and this book has informed my thinking about myself and the world in a huge way. Hence why I gave it 5 stars - this book has fundamentally altered my thinking.

This book taught me about growth, about my growth and about how others grow. It taught me about psychological health and the roots of neurosis. It taught me about needs, about the fundamental need for human love. It taught me about human nature, what is inherent and what is not. It taught me about evil, how evil can exist within this framework, and how evil is not inherent to humannness. It taught me about love, about different kinds of love, it taught me about my own history with love and where things went wrong. It taught me about cognition, how we interpret the world and how rose-colored our glasses can be. It taught me about values, the roots of values, and about humans striving to find values. It taught me about childhood and suppression of self in order to please adults, and the way to raise children to foster growth rather than suppression.

I could go on, but I'm not going to. These are all BIG topics, of psychology and of my personal thoughts. It was a lot to take in, to be honest. But this book has given my brain so much to munch on, so much information to apply to my life, and that's exactly what I was hoping to get out of it. To better understand how humans work enriches my interpretation of the world.

I recommend this book to anyone who's up to the task. It's fascinating, albeit difficult to read at times. Maslow summarizes his findings well, and he's such a revolutionary psychologist in so many ways in this book. I can't wait to read more Maslow, I've already ordered 2 more of his books.
Profile Image for Rosa Ramôa.
1,570 reviews64 followers
January 12, 2015
“Eu queria provar que os seres humanos são capazes de algo maior do que guerras, o preconceito e o ódio. Eu queria fazer ciência considerar todos os problemas que os cientistas não conseguiram: a religião, a poesia, valores, filosofia, arte. Eu continuei com eles tentando entender as pessoas grandes, os melhores exemplares da humanidade que pude encontrar”
(Abraham Maslow)
Profile Image for J Ruth.
29 reviews11 followers
October 30, 2011
If you're prepared to use your brain while reading this book deserve 5 stars. It's complex and obviously written by a genius. THE Maslow. A greatly affirming, illuminating journey into the heart of being.
Profile Image for Underconsumed Knowledge.
78 reviews4 followers
November 21, 2021
People often see other people as walking-need-fulfillers for them themselves – “What can that person do for me?”, on a subconscious level; “... these needs which are essentially deficits in the organism, empty holes, so to speak, which must be filled up for health’s sake, and furthermore must be filled from without by human beings other than the subject...” These are dependency, as opposed to being. Someone who abandons the need to have these needs met for them is “self-actualized”, with an ego/sense of self that more or less withers away, though it can come back if certain “needs” are not met. When being, one can better perceive reality, and have increased acceptance of self, others, and nature. Maslow says the needs satisfaction are a process of maturation, and one passes from one to the other; Peterson disputes this, saying that there can be some kind of higher-level life-satisfaction without fully fulfilled basic needs (citing example of Viktor Frankl). One can also enjoy and embrace deficiency needs if one typically gets them and they can be counted upon in the future; this mirrors Horney, which says “neurosis” results from needs-frustration. The needs-dependent person must be attuned to others because he depends on them to satisfy his needs. If your perception is “desireless”, you can see “what is” (Jiddu) more clearly, and don’t think as much in terms of dichotomies, but rather in terms of continuums; “...much clearer and more insightful perception and understanding of what is there... detached perception... attain[ed] without trying for [it]”. As opposed to “rubricizing” employing “... a kind of taxonomy, a classifying, a ticketing off into one file cabinet or another.” People want to be respected for themselves and their uniqueness; the child brushed off as having problems characteristic of their age will become angry, ex., “You don’t understand me mom!”. Anxiety can be a healthy thing, i.e. anxiety about a lack of food either now or in the near future. Self-actualization is something the average person does not achieve, maybe one in one hundred; Maslow says it is possible for anyone, though. Thus, the “just-live-your-life" of Fromm/Maslow doesn’t seem like a good societal prescription. The notion that self-actualization is selfish is wrong, it actually involves a form of altruism, realizing the needs to others and a good society, what our duty is, etc. Horney said we “Register” things we are proud of internally, and also things which we are ashamed of, a net result being either self-respect and acceptance, or despising ourselves. Positive psychology asks more than, “How to get unsick” -- what one does with freedom. “Personality problems” may depend on who is doing the asking; a personality “problem” can crush your true inner nature, such as by a tyrannical husband who demands to control his wife. “If grief and pain are sometimes necessary for growth of the person, then we must learn not to protect people from them automatically as if they were always bad... Not allowing people to go through their pain, and protecting them from it, may turn out to be a kind of overprotection, which in turn implies a certain lack of respect for the integrity and the intrinsic nature and the future development of the individual.” “Another consequence for my thinking of this stress on the twofold nature of man is the realization that some problems must remain eternally insoluble.” There is no final solution, there will always be good and bad, etc. “It is when the shallow life doesn’t work that it is questioned and that there occurs a call to fundamentals.” M. Scott Peck’s “question everything.” “...the ‘authentic person’... assumes a new relation to his society... he not only transcends himself in various ways; he also transcends his culture... he becomes more detached from his culture and from his society. He becomes a little more a member of his species...” Notes that we do not like to be categorized, we like to be treated for who we are; “...as a money-giver, a food supplier, a safety-giver, someone to depend on, or as a waiter or other anonymous servant... When this happens we don’t like it at all... We dislike being ‘used.’” Horney said,
“How is it possible to lose a self? The treachery, unknown and unthinkable, begins with our secret psychic death in childhood—if and when we are not loved and are cut off from our spontaneous wishes. (Think: what is left?) … He has not been accepted for himself as he is. ‘Oh, they ‘love’ him, but they want him or force him or expect him to be different! Therefore he must be unacceptable. He himself learns to believe it... he has truly given himself up;... His performance is all that matters. His center of gravity is in ‘them,’ not in himself... And the whole thing is entirely plausible; all invisible, automatic, and anonymous! This is the perfect paradox. Everything looks normal; no crime was intended; there is no corpse, no guilt. All we can see if the sun rising and setting as usual. But what has happened? He has been rejected, not only by them, but by himself. (He is actually without a self.) What has he lost? Just the one true and vital part of himself: his own yes-feeling, which is his very capacity for growth... But alas, he is not dead. ‘Life’ goes on, and so must he. From the moment he gives himself up... all unknowingly he sets about to create and maintain a pseudo-self... a ‘self’ without wishes. This one shall be loved (or feared) where he is despised, strong where he is weak; it shall go through the motions (oh, but they are caricatures!) not for fun or joy but for survival... it is a defense mechanism against death. It is also the machine of death. From now on he will be torn apart by compulsive (unconscious) needs or ground by (unconscious) conflicts into paralysis, every motion and every instant canceling out his being, his integrity; and all the while he is disguised as a normal person and expected to behave like one. In a word, I saw that we become neurotic seeking or defending a pseudo-self, a self-system; and we are neurotic to the extent that we are self-less.”
"If the only way to maintain the self is to lose others, then the ordinary child will give up the self.” Especially if this choice is imposed by adults. Regarding growth vs. Safety, “If we wish to help him grow... then all we can do is help him if he asks for help out of suffering... We can’t force him to grow, we can only coax him to, make it more possible for him... Only he can prefer it; no one can prefer it for him. If it is to become part of him, he must like it. If he doesn’t, we must gracefully concede that it is not for him at this moment.” “All the techniques of the therapist are in one way or another truth-revealing, or are ways of strengthening the patient so he can bear the truth.” Regarding defense mechanisms, “The child, too, can play this same trick, denying, refusing to see what is plain to anyone else: that his father is a contemptible weakling, or that his mother doesn’t really love him. This kind of knowledge is a call for action which is impossible. Better not to know.” “Something similar can be seen in the exploited, the downtrodden, the weak minority or the slave. He may fear to know too much, to explore freely. This might arouse the wrath of his lords. A defensive attitude of pseudo-stupidity is common in such groups...” The self-actualized people are “almost like a different breed of human beings.” Here is the potential for someone to mistakenly think themselves “self-actualized,” and thus feel superior, calling attention to the supposed state by giving it a name. The mature person can impersonally accept life’s evils, as they exist in nature, the tornado or the earthquake, "[A]ccepts evil as he does the seasons and the storms.” As with Frankl, he points out the need for and presence of humor, to have a certain jovial nature about things. He has a “calm sureness and rightness, as if they knew exactly what they were doing... without doubts...” And having a “godlike gaiety (humor, fun, foolishness, silliness, play, laughter)” “...incompleteness... may be incompatible not only with serenity, peacefulness and psychological well-being, but also with physical well-being...” “Very often this feeling of gratitude [of the self-actualized] is expressed as or leads to an all-embracing love for everybody and everything, to a perception of the world as beautiful, and good, often to an impulse to do something good for the world... even a sense of obligation.” It is not a selfish way of being. They are, “‘[U]nderstanding and accepting the intrinsic human situation,’ i.e., facing and accepting courageously, and even enjoying, being amused by the ‘shortcomings’ of human nature instead of trying to deny them.” Maslow points out that the self-actualized, I.e. Einstein, are in a sense free-riders, depending on others to do things for them, I.e. his wife, his school, his friends, etc., allowing him to be highly specialized in his focus on knowledge. Points out the “...problem of social responsibility of the more mature for the less mature who may confuse B-acceptance with D-approval... of... crime or irresponsibility, arising out of deep understanding, may be misunderstood as inciting to emulation. For the B-cognizer who lives in a world of frightened and easily misled people, this is an additional burden of responsibility to bear.” Points out that creativity and self-actualized type experiences are not limited to painters and poets; a conventional housewife (this written in the early 60s) can be a marvelous cook, a great homemaker, with great taste in homewares, excellent furniture, first-rate cooking, etc.; anything can be creative (as is the businessman, would say Rand). The self-actualized, “...were less afraid of being laughed at or of being disapproved of. They could let themselves be flooded by emotion. In contrast, average and neurotic people wall off through fear, much that lies within themselves. They control, they inhibit, they repress, and they suppress. They disapprove of their deeper selves and expect that others do, too.” “The normal adjustment of the average, a common sense, well-adjusted man implies a continued successful rejection of much of the depths of human nature... a splitting of the person. It means that the person turns his back of much in himself because it is dangerous. But it is now clear that by so doing, he loses a great deal too, for these depths are also the source of all his joys, his ability to play, to love, to laugh...” Thus, a bit of us dies out of necessity in adjustment to the constraints of reality, but we must make conscious effort to cultivate our true inner-nature in order that we can have happiness. “Capacities clamor to be used... capacities are needs, and therefore are intrinsic values as well. To the extent that capacities differ, so will values also differ.” Thus, a chicken and the egg scenario when it comes to valuing things like learning and education. “Self-knowledge and self-improvement is very difficult for most people. It usually needs great courage and long struggle.” Echoes Rogers, we must be understanding and very humble as regards people’s states. “... one of the proper goals of therapy is to move from dichotomizing and splitting toward integration of seemingly irreconcilable opposites [Isaiah Berlin]. Our godlike qualities rest upon and need our animal qualities. Our adulthood should not be only a renunciation of childhood, but an inclusion of its good values and a building upon it.” The self-actualized person moves to “real problems rather than pseudo-problems.” “...when they know what is the right thing to do, they do it.” I.e. stressing over what to eat for dinner is a pseudo-problem. “To the extent that we try to master the environment... to that extent do we cut the possibility of full, objective, detached, non-interfering cognition. Only if we let it be, can we perceive fully. Again, to cite psychotherapeutic experience, the more eager we are to make a diagnosis and a plan of action, the less helpful do we become. The more eager we are to cure, the longer it takes... to be humble is to succeed.” It is better to take an accurate gauge of the situation before immediately resorting to action. “Every superior person confronts us with our own shortcomings.” Enter hatred, resentment, jealousy of the good values. “Still deeper than this, however, is the ultimate existential question of the fairness and justice of fate. The person with a disease may be jealous of the healthy, who is no more deserving than he.” It is the “frustrating unyieldingness of physical reality... and of other people that we learn about their nature, and thereby learn to differentiate wishes from facts [Glenn Greenwald]... and are thereby enabled to live in the world and adapt to it as necessary.” We cannot wish the way we want things to be into reality. “Overprotection implies that the child’s needs are gratified for him by his parents, without effort of his own. This tends to infantilize him, to prevent development of his own strength, will and self-assertion... it may teach him to use other people rather than to respect them... it implies a lack of trust and respect for the child’s own powers and choices... and can help to make a child feel worthless.” “The human being needs a framework of values, a philosophy of life, a religion or religion-surrogate to live by and understand by, in about the same sense that he needs sunlight, calcium or love. This I have called the ‘cognitive need to understand.’” Maslow thinks we need a universal value system to be developed. “What man needs but doesn’t have, he seeks for unceasingly [Tolstoy], and he becomes dangerously ready to jump at any hope, good or bad.” “One for whom no future exists is reduced to the concrete, to hopelessness, to emptiness. For him, time must be endlessly ‘filled.’”
Profile Image for Nico.
59 reviews6 followers
June 21, 2022
I'd like to center Maslow's influences in this work for those interested in knowing what Maslow is synthesizing here.

Most influentially, this is a /heavily/ Taoist work (with some unexpected Buddhism at points). A lot of Maslow's hypotheses here are ultimately extensions of beliefs one can find in the Tao, and Taoist Immortals seem to be the archetype for self-actualization here. Though optional, I highly recommend visiting Laotze first here, because it is fascinatingly central to the piece in a way that isn't always stated.

Within Maslow's field of psychology, the two figures that peek out the most are John Bowlby (Attachment Theory) and Erich Fromm (Humanist Psychoanalysis). Attachment Theory is a way of understanding personality formation in children based on the innate need for love/affection from caregivers (Harlow's Monkeys and The Strange Situation are key experiments here) with the takeaway being that humans (and other animals) develop a secure and healthy attachment style when they have a secure emotional base to turn to for attachment needs—this formulation is taken up by Maslow. Erich Fromm, whose Humanism developed out of his Jewish upbringing and Buddhist practice, made major contributions to psychology over his lifetime but is perhaps most well known for his consistent emphasis on actualization or enlightenment as a practice of love opposed to a normalized pathology stemming from repressive social structures (Escape from Freedom being an emblematic example).

Lastly, in a very unexpected way, Towards a Psychology of Being is highly Heideggerian. That is, it makes significant use of Heidegger's Metaphysics of Being. To briefly outline this argument (which I am only indirectly familiar with through Derrida), it is that for any phenomenological question to be answered in the affirmative, we must first answer the question of Being in the affirmative—that is, in order to state that "I am in fact a human being" I must first affirm that "I am". Derrida argues that this Metaphysics of Being is inherently opposed to his idea of Trace, or his Metaphysics of Trace ('Becoming', more simply), but it suffices here to say that a Metaphysics of Being will lead to a search for a kind of Transcendental Signifier (ie: the Original Language, the True Self, the First Human, etc) and this is exactly what we see in this text. Maslow is interested in the true and hidden Being of a person, the unchangeable human core which is always seeking to be /teased out/ of a person, which is only /restrained/ or /repressed/ by the social environment, always seeking to burst out in its unpolluted Being-There, the Transcendental Signifier of Original Being.
Profile Image for Jonathan Hockey.
Author 2 books14 followers
September 16, 2018
Maslow offers a future enabling, rather than just a past repressing (as in Freud), psychology of human Being. He focuses on the psychologically healthy, rather than the psychologically ill, and delves into the experiences that healthy people have. His purpose is to show how healthy behavior is not just about adaptation to normal standards, it is about internalising these standards as well as going beyond these standards in a future oriented life. Self-actualisation is the term he uses for this. And people of this kind he suggests should be the role models for us all. They have more peak experiences, more enjoyment in life, but they also embrace the responsibilities and duties that come with this. They have integrated the tendencies towards order and creativity in their personalities, so as to remain always best in touch with the reality surrounding them. Maslow argues also, akin to Plato, that the good and the true and the enjoyable all come together, in these types of people.

I cannot agree with aspects of his approach, such as his belief that this is just science that can be taken in as such. There is no way that much conventional science would accept such an ontology where the center is held by self actualisers. His combining of Being and Becoming would be anathema to many scientifically minded. A therapist in psychology wants to enable and help others naturally, scientists in many other areas do not have such a motivation, they are motivated more by controlling and circumscribing. Maybe they can learn from Maslows approach, but I think many would simply plug their ears up and refuse to listen. The recent rise of naive selfish instinct based views as in Dawkins and the evolutionary biologists, tells us more the kind of view that science wants to hold as its archetype on this subject matter. Science determines from the outside, self actualisers as in Maslow, partly determine themselves from the inside, at least in some key areas of their lives and personality. This latter can be true all it wants, but it simply will not fit with the agenda of science, and I think this is why this kind of approach tends to be historically revised out of existence in our current science dominated era.

If the Maslow style approach is to gain more ground in our contemporary day to day culture, it will be by those with a more critical eye to the limitations of science, not as an exemplar of science, as Maslow seemed to hope.
Profile Image for Alex Petkus.
29 reviews7 followers
October 18, 2019
This book had what I was looking for about self-actualization, or similarly associated "Individuation," or "Becoming and Being," etc.

I very much recomend reading this book if you are on an Ontological journey to find meaning, or you are what Nietzsche may have labelled an "active nihilist." I feel I am closer to whatever this is that I am seeking.

My "list" I created early on in my "journey" to find me, a list of my most meaningful experiences that gave me some glimmer or hope of meaning, of which I had been struggling to understand for years, turned out to be what Maslow has defined as "Peak Experiences." If you have had any similar "list" of ineffable experiences that make you feel on top of the world, where time stops and paradoxically was too short yet an entire world existed within that moment, and everything flowed naturally and effortesly, you may have experienced "Peak Experiences," and this book may be worth reading for you.

I have read a lot of continental philosophy in my "journey," but I feel this text has really moved me forward. Before this, in Psycology, I read Maslow's paper on the hierarchy of needs [a 2 hour read for a slow reader like myself], and Carl Jung's collected works as well as Aniela Jaffé's outside perspective of Jung's work, and a very little bit of Freud back in college [civilization and it's discontents]. This book was very easy to digest with my very limited knowledge of psychology.

This book also gave me insight as how to help my children grow and how to better understand people that may be compensating for something with neurotic behavior.

This is a very good book. There is some repetition of ideas, but Maslow seems to do that to "pull things together" or synergize and make whole his concepts; it is not "useless repetition" you would see in a paper written by a student that "didn't read the book."
Profile Image for Jai Preston.
29 reviews
May 30, 2017
A classic in the world of Psychology, this is one of the best books on the topic I've ever read. Maslow is one of the forefathers of modern Psychology and is best known for his 'Hierarchy of needs pyramid,' and his deep fascination with self-actualization. Both of these ideas are covered in this book, but it's the latter that gets the most attention.

Maslow does a great job in explaining, in almost poetic terms, exactly what is going on in that little head of ours: why we think the way we do, what desire is, the different types of cognition, the thoughts that hold us back, where creativity comes from, and much more.

As much as this is a Psychology textbook, it is, you could say, also a guide on how to live. Although there are no tips or steps offered per se, Maslow paints a picture in your mind of what a self-actualised person looks like, thinks like, acts like; and it is from this that you gain a heightened level of awareness of yourself.

Because of the year it was written (1st Edition 1962), it can at times be a little difficult to read; that and the fact that it's clear -- through his style of delivery and numerous references -- that Maslow has a love of Eastern Philosophy, and therefore his writing takes a few chapters to get used too.

I would put this book on the same shelf as Frankl's "Man's guide to meaning," Dale Carnegies 2 most popular books, Dan Gilbert's "Stumbling on Happiness" and even some of Nietzsche's work.
Profile Image for Joshua Nomen-Mutatio.
333 reviews871 followers
February 5, 2009
I remember being realy impressed with Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" when discovering it for the first time.

Here it is:

1. Physiological
-breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homoestasis, excretion

2. Safety
-security of body, of employment, of resources, of morality, of the family, of health, of property

3. Love/Belonging
-friendship, family, sexual intimacy

4. Esteem
-self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others

5. Self-actualization
-morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts
Profile Image for CM.
259 reviews25 followers
September 24, 2020
One of the most well known psychologists presented his writings and revised them into a book. His key idea? That we are born to reach our full potential and psychology should expand its scope of study to cover the positive side of psyche. All very well, but you probably just need to read the preface and chapter 14 as the rest is very much the same thing , sometimes with the same sentences appearing in consecutive chapters...
Profile Image for Paul Beaulieu.
13 reviews
July 16, 2019
Every copy of this book comes with a free set of rosy-coloured glasses. So sit down, put em on, and get ready to have it revealed to you that there exists a special set of human beings who, their more basic needs being sated, reach a level of independence, self-determination, and creativity which practically makes them gods. Yes, the book makes some valid points regarding human needs but the Idealistic flavour sprinkled with airy reverence for the ephemeral Tao is definitely not for everyone.
23 reviews
April 11, 2021
Revelatory book, as we progress through the pages, it feels, we progress through knowing ourselves much better. Intra psychic and psychic, all kinds of possible experiences are well explained in the journey of 'Becoming to Being'. D-love & B-love, D-cognition & B-cognition are some concepts which felt interesting to me.Maslow is such a renowned name in psychology. This is just one book, I need to read more from him to have a precise look at his weltanschauung.
Profile Image for Amy.
29 reviews
October 7, 2012
It is amazing how at the core of my job, Maslow's hierarchy of human needs serve as the framework for which I do any other therapy. This book is one that I reference often in my own practice today as I serve many clients who do not have their basic needs met. I have learned that if I do not address these needs first, my clients are unable to progress any further in therapy.
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