Psychologists

Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow biography
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Abraham Maslow biography

Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) psychologist and psychiatrist, founder of humanistic psychology. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, United States. His parents were Jewish emigrants from Russia. As a child, he was raised strictly and that is why he was an orderly young man. Although he had several brothers he was lonely and unhappy. One of the reasons why he did not have a happy childhood was because of his Jewish beliefs in a non-Jewish space. The children of his school and his neighborhood did not understand it and many times they made fun of him because he was a Jew. So, Abraham saw libraries and books as a refuge.

When finishing school, Maslow thought to go to Law school, but finally, he inclined by psychology. Maslow attended the School of Postgraduate of the University of Wisconsin. In December 1928, before graduating, he married his elder cousin, Bertha Goodman, during that time he met his main mentor, Professor Harry Harlow. Thanks to his influence Maslow began a line of research, studied sexual behavior and the domination of primates, we must mention that this was a completely new subject. Maslow obtained his master’s degree in 1931 and received his doctorate four years later. In that year he proposed the psychological theory that we now know as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

This theory focuses on the study of human motivation. One year after graduation, he moved to New York to work with Edward Thorndike at Columbia University, where he became interested in the investigation of human sexuality. Alfred Adler, one of Sigmund Freud’s first colleagues, was very important in this process. Subsequently, he advanced studies at the College of Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, where he obtained a position as a full-time professor. In New York, he had the opportunity to work with illustrious figures such as Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, as well as several Gestalt and Freudian psychologists.

He also made several works with the anthropologist Ruth Benedict and Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer, with whom he linked a relationship based on professional and personal admiration. Maslow analyzed his behaviors, which was the basis of his research and thought throughout his life on mental health and human potential. In 1951 Maslow moved to Boston to fulfill the position of head of the department of psychology at Brandeis University, where he remained for ten years. At this time he met Kurt Goldstein, who introduced him to the concept of self-realization.

It was here where he began his adventure in favor of humanistic psychology, developed the central thesis of the pyramid of needs, which is currently applied in various fields of psychology, even beyond, expresses that human beings have structured needs in different strata, then the secondary or superior needs arise while the most basic ones are being met. This theory has been applied in labor psychology, which seeks to strengthen the esteem of workers, help them grow, self-fulfill and innovate in the company. Maslow dedicated several lines to this topic, adopted ideas from other psychologists and added his own contribution in a significant way, highlighting the concepts of the hierarchy of needs and self-realization, those of meta-needs, meta motivation and sublime experiences.

Maslow became the leader of the humanistic school of psychology founded in the 1950s, which he called “third force” we must understand that it goes beyond Freudian theory and behaviorism. In 1967, thanks to his work he was awarded by the American Humanist Association which named him Humanist of the Year. In the last years of his life he devoted himself to the teaching activity, Maslow devoted himself to a great theoretical project: to develop a philosophy and ethics that agreed with the hypotheses of humanistic psychology but did not complete it. On June 8, 1970, he died in California due to myocardial infarction.

He published several works as Motivation and Personality (1954), Psychology of Being (1962) and The Psychology of Science (1966), Abraham H. Maslow postulated that each individual has hierarchical needs -physiological, affective, self-realization- that should be satisfied, and that psychotherapy aims to enable the integration of being. His theory is within holism and humanistic psychology and Maslow defends the idea that man is an integrated and organized whole, without differentiated parts. Any reason that affects a system affects the whole person. Maslow developed a critique of the theories of Sigmund Freud and Clark L. Hull.

For Maslow, Freud’s model only refers to the neurotic behavior of subjects who cannot stand frustrations, while Hull’s theory deals exclusively with organisms s for a deficit situation. In response, the psychologist proposed a theory of growth and development based on a healthy man, in which the key concept for motivation is that of necessity. Maslow said that were the following: physiological needs, protection or safety needs, social needs of love and belonging to a group, needs for esteem and recognition and, finally, need for self-realization, understood as the realization of all the potential that holds the individual.

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