The Legacy of Abraham Maslow

Born 1 April, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York Abraham Maslow studied hard and became interested in psychology. He worked with Harry Harlow observing baby Rhesus monkeys and attachment behavior.

From his observations he noticed that some needs took priority over others. At this moment, your need for air and water are satisfied. Other needs such as the need to achieve is directing your behavior. Let your need for water go unsatisfied then your thirst will become a preoccupation. Deprive yourself of air and you will momentarily forget your thirst.

From these examples, the particular needs that motivate our behavior depend on which needs are unmet. Abraham Maslow proposed one possible ‘hierarchy of needs’ and believed that we are not prompted to satisfy our higher level needs until our more fundamental, lower level needs are met.

At the base of which are our Physiological needs – need to satisfy hunger, thirst and shelter. If these needs are met then people are prompted to meet their need for safety – need to feel that the world is organized and predictable; need to feel safe, secure and stable. Once these basic needs are met you can have your Psychological needs met – the need to love and be loved, to belong and be accepted: need to avoid loneliness and alienation then enjoy the Esteem needs – need for self-esteem, to achieve, to be competent and independent; need for recognition and respect from others.

Beyond this lie the highest order needs – Self-actualization needs – the need to live up to ones fullest and unique potential and achieve a spiritual perspective that transcends ordinary experience.

For Maslow a central feature of personality is one’s self-concept. If our self-concept is positive, we tend to act in the world positively. If it is negative, falling short of our ideal self we feel dissatisfied and unhappy and are unable to fulfill one’s potential of becoming the self one is capable of becoming.

A real goal for us is to help all individuals know, accept and be true to themselves.