Maslow hierarchy of needs

Biography Abraham Maslow

Maslow hierarchy of needs
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"Biography Abraham Maslow"
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Abraham Maslow was a famous psychologist who's work on humanistic psychology has seen his fame spread to many humanity subjects like geography and demographics. He is primarily famous for his Hierarchy of Needs'.

Abraham Harold Maslow was born on the 1st April 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. Maslow was the eldest of seven children born to Russian Jewish immigrants. Relatively uneducated themselves they saw learning as the key to their children succeeding in their new homeland. As such all of their children were encouraged to study; Abraham their oldest child was pushed especially hard as he was recognised as an intellectual at a young age.

Maslow himself felt that his childhood was relatively unhappy, alone in a strange neighbourhood he took refuge in studying and his books. Maslow spent all of his childhood in Brooklyn.

At school Maslow was a scholarly pupil, and succeeded in gaining a place at the City College of New York. Maslow initially studied law to satisfy his parents' wishes, but he attended graduate school at Wisconsin University. At Wisconsin he changed his subject to psychology, receiving a BA in 1930, an MA in 1931 and a Ph.D in 1934. At Wisconsin he was mentored by Harry Harlow, a psychologist famed for his work on rhesus monkeys and behaviour. Maslow developed this looking at primate's dominance behaviour and sexuality.

During his period of study at Wisconsin, Maslow married his cousin, Bertha Goodman, with whom Maslow had two daughters.

Following his Ph.D, Maslow returned to New York in 1935, where he continued his psychology studies at Colombia University. Working with EL Thorndike, Maslow continued to develop his interest on human sexuality.

In 1937 Maslow took up a teaching post at Brooklyn College, where he soon found further mentors in Alfred Adler and Erich Fromm. Adler and Fromm were leading European psychologists. Maslow also learnt from anthropologist Ruth Benedict and Freudian psychologist Max Wertheimer. Maslow though would learn from noting their behaviour.

In 1951 Maslow moved to Brandeis University, a Massachusetts private research university, where took up the chair of the psychology department. This position allowed him to focus more on his theoretical work. At Brandeis Maslow also became friends with Kurt Goldstein, who introduced Maslow to the theory of self-actualisation. Maslow remained at Brandeis until 1969, before a brief stint as a fellow at Laughlin Institute in California.

Maslow's primary contribution to psychology is the pyramid/ladder of basic needs, evidence suggests that he originally came up with the idea in the 1940s. The pyramid displays that some needs are more powerful than others, ranging from most urgent to the most advanced. The five categories are physiological (sex, sleep, water, food etc), safety (security of body, health, employment etc), belonging/love (friendship, family and sexual intimacy), esteem (confidence, respect of others and by others), and self-actualisation (morality, creativity etc).

The theory though is that unfulfilled needs from the lower segments of the pyramid/ladder would prevent a person climbing into the next level. Those who reached the top of the pyramid were self-actualising people. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs became the accepted notion in the fields of psychology and anthropology, as well as crossing over into other humanity fields.

Maslow did make revisions to his theory and this has meant that other major works Motivation and Personality' (1954) and Toward a Psychology of Being' (1962) have been overlooked to a large extent. Maslow was also critical of mainstream psychology for overusing pathology and not looking at the individual, the authentic self'.

In the later years of the 1960s, Maslow went into semi-retirement and began to spend more time at his home in California. Ill health though blighted his semi-retirement and at the age of 62, Maslow died on the 8th June, 1970 from a heart-attack.

Maslow was the leading figure of the humanistic school of psychology, which became the third force' behind Freudian theory and behaviourism. One major work, the hierarchy of needs, has ensured that generations of psychology and humanity students have discovered the basic needs of each human being.

More about this author: Tim Harry

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