Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow was born on April 1st, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the oldest of seven children and even seen as "mentally unstable". His parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia.

To satisfy his parents, he first studied law at the City College of New York. After three semesters, he transferred to Cornell, and then back to CCNY. In 1928 he married his first cousin Bertha Goodman, who was in high school at the time. Abe and Bertha went on to have two daughters, who were not mentioned much. He and Bertha moved to Wisconsin so that he could attend the University of Wisconsin. Here, he became interested in psychology, and his school work began to improve dramatically. He received his BA in 1930, his MA in 1931, and his PhD in 1934, all in psychology, all from the University of Wisconsin.

Maslow served as the chair of the psychology department at Brandeis from 1951 to 1969. While there he met Kurt Goldstein, who had originated the idea of self-actualization in his famous book, The Organism (1934). It was also here that he began his crusade for a humanistic psychology -- something ultimately much more important to him than his own theorizing. His biggest influences were Alfred Adler, Kurt Goldstein and Henry Murray. Maslow was concerned with questions such as, "Why don't more people self-actualize if their basic needs are met?" and basically why don't people try to reach their full potential.

In 1943 Maslow began formulating his theory of the hierarchy of needs which includes five motivational needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. In 1954 the hierarchy of needs was published in his book Motivation and Personality. The basis of Maslow's theory of motivation is that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be addressed. Per the teachings of Abraham Maslow, there are general needs (physiological, safety, love, and esteem) which have to be fulfilled before a person is able to act unselfishly. These needs were dubbed "deficiency needs." While a person is motivated to fulfill these basal desires, they continue to move toward growth, and eventually self-actualization. The satisfaction of these needs is quite healthy. while preventing their gratification makes us ill or act evilly. Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization. Unfortunately

  • Work
    • Psychologist
  • Education
    • University of Wisconsin, Madison