I call it Being-psychology because it concerns itself
with ends rather than means, i.e., with
end-values, end-cognitions, with people as ends.
Contemporary psychology has mostly studied
not-having rather than having,
striving rather than fulfillment,
frustration rather than fulfillment,
frustration rather than gratification,
seeking for joy rather than having attained joy,
trying to get there rather than being there.
[Abraham Maslow Toward a Psychology of Being
(New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1968) p. 73]
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was an American
best known for his work with "self-actualizing" people.
He spent many years interviewing such people,
attempting to discover how they differ from non-self-actualizers.
Among famous individuals, Maslow is fairly
sure Thomas Jefferson
and Abraham Lincoln (in his last years) were self-actualizing persons.
He also lists a number of people whom he classifies as "highly
Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Addams,
William James, Albert Schweitzer, Aldous Huxley, & Spinoza.
Maslow estimates that less than 5% of the adult population are
Here we will explore Maslow's concept of
by asking four broad questions,
which should help us determine the degree of our own self-actualization:
I. Are all my deficiency-needs satisfied (or transcended)?
II. Am I pursuing a value or meaning beyond myself?
III. Am I more concerned with being
than with seeming?
IV. Have I moved from conformity to autonomy?
I. ARE ALL MY DEFICIENCY-NEEDS SATISFIED (OR TRANSCENDED)?
Psychology often seems preoccupied with basic
Some psychologists assume that people always act to fulfill their needs
or to get back into a comfortable or pleasant state of body or mind.
With respect to most people, Maslow agrees
with these views.
Most of us are
motivated in our daily behavior by things we want or need.
But self-actualizing persons have higher aspirations.
90 BECOMING MORE AUTHENTIC: THE POSITIVE SIDE OF EXISTENTIALISM
by JAMES PARK
to cite the above page from Becoming More Authentic
Students and scholars are
invited to quote
anything from the above page.
Here is the proper form for the footnote or other reference:
James Park Becoming
The Positive Side of Existentialism
(Minneapolis, MN: www.existentialbooks.com, 2007—5th edition)
to the table of contents for
Authentic: The Positive Side of Existentialism.
The contents shows the outline of this chapter on Maslow.
September 12, 2008