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Maslow’s Self-Actualization and Beyond

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Abraham Maslow has been known in the field of management for his theory on the “Hierarchy of Needs” which managers have found to be beneficial in maintaining healthy relationships with their employees. However, this theory was constructed by Maslow not primarily for the purpose of the study of management. Instead, he created this in order to provide his colleagues an insight into the other side of the human psyche. This paper will present his concepts regarding the need of individuals for self-actualization and how one may be able to attain this through the guidance of a fellow psychologist.

Maslow’s Concept of Self-Actualization As a humanistic psychologist, Maslow (2007) believed that all human beings are capable in developing the best of their abilities, qualities and capabilities. His theory of the “Hierarchy of Needs” stated that every individual’s goal is to attain and satisfy the need for self-actualization, which he referred to as the highest form of need experienced by human beings that can only be addressed and satisfied once the all the other hierarchies are met which include the individual’s physiological needs, safety needs, the need for a sense of belonging and self esteem.

This theory developed through his desire to understand why an individual could be so different from the general population in terms of goal-achievement and outlook in life by studying individuals who had lived much of their lives successfully. Once an individual has earned his or her self-actualization, he or she become involved outside himself or herself. They are extremely devoted individuals working at a goal which was dictated to them by fate and destiny not only to accomplish, but also to enjoy.

This is also referred to as the individual’s being values which cannot be reduced by the individual to anything that is more ultimate (Maslow 2007). Being needs brought about by self-actualization behave just like any other needs of the individual. If this is not met or attained by the individual, that individual begins to feel deprived and would lead to pathologies that are considered as the illness of the soul (Maslow 2007). In order for an individual to attain this, the individual would have to undergo two separate kinds of learning.

The first is the extrinsic form of learning which means the individual collects and acquires information from his or her surroundings and incorporating it with other pieces of information already previously acquired. The second form of learning is the intrinsic learning. Unlike the extrinsic form of learning, the intrinsic form of learning refers to the long-term goals of the individual in order to become all that he or she can be. There are eight methods that an individual uses in order to satisfy the need for self-actualization.

The first is to express fully and selflessly with full concentration and without the self-consciousness experienced by an adolescent when an event is experienced. The second method is to view life as a process of choices that occurs one after another. Thirdly, the individual must accept and realize that he or she is not a blank slate. Rather, when an individual is born, he or she possesses biochemical balances and a temper at a minimum. The fourth way is to be honest that one doubts rather than not to admit.

The fifth is to view little things one does as opportunities to add up to better choices. Sixth, self-actualization is not only an end but also the process of actualizing one’s potentialities at any time and in any amount. The seventh method is the acceptance that peak experiences are transient moments of one’s self-actualization which cannot be bought, sought nor guaranteed. Finally, the eighth method is for the individual to find out who he or she is, what he or she is, his or her likes and dislikes, where he or she is going and what he or she would like to accomplish (Maslow 2007).

Conclusion Prior to the introduction of Maslow’s theory of the “Hierarchy of Needs,” psychologists have developed their respective theories through the study of troubled individuals. They have viewed human beings similar to that of a blank sheet of paper where the human being eventually learns the behaviors that he or she instills in himself or herself through experiences with his or her family and his or her surrounding environment.

Maslow, on the other hand, viewed this approach of psychology as only focusing on one side of the personality of the individual, without studying the other side of the individual, which is described as the positive side of the individual’s psyche. This side shows the abilities and capabilities of an individual that he or she possesses. Only through the study of both sides of the human personality can psychologists be able to fully comprehend the psyche of such a complex creature such as the human being.

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