Maslow, Abraham (April 1, 1908—June 8, 1970)
Dr. Maslow was a humanistic psychologist, and a researcher in human motivation. Although many are familiar with his hierarchy of five levels of need, in 1969 he amended the model. He extended the hierarchy beyond self-actualization to a higher level, which he termed motivational self-transcendence. At this level, the self-actualized person seeks to further a cause or ideals beyond the self. The person feels a profound sense of awareness beyond ego boundaries, which Maslow called peak experience. His self-transcendence concept places the highest form of human development at a transpersonal level, beyond needs of self/ego. One’s motivation becomes the well-being of others, or what could be called other-actualization.
Adding the sixth level to Maslow’s hierarchy has important implications for research and theory in personality and social psychology. Self-transcendence concepts help sociologists, anthropologists, and mental health professionals understand influences on individual conceptions of the meaning of life. Six levels offer a more comprehensive model for understanding the motivations of wisdom, tolerance, altruism, and social progress.
Maslow’s levels are not discrete or well-defined, are evident to different degrees at different times within a person, and continually change within the person. Each level or stage of development may also overlap with a ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ level as one’s motivations and behavior fluctuate over time.
His clinical approach emphasized an individual’s present functioning instead of review of earlier life influences. Elements of his humanistic psychology: Self-acceptance begins with taking personal responsibility for all actions; regardless of behavior, all persons have inherent worth; gaining self-knowledge results in competence and mastery. He wrote, ‘If all you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.’
Maslow encouraged constant effort toward self-improvement, through which one may meet needs and attain happiness, fulfillment, self-actualization, and self-transcendence.