Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was an American psychologist famous for advocating what was called “The Third Force in Psychology“. This third force proposed a Psychology based on a humanistic approach, the so-called Humanistic Psychology. It was called third force since it came to occupy the third place, after the other prevailing psychologies, which were those of dynamic orientation (Psychoanalysis), and the Behaviorist.
Maslow received his doctorate in Philosophy in 1934. He also studied Watson’s Behaviorism and researched in the area of animal behavior. Later on he was appointed Professor of Psychology at Brandeis University (USA: US), and held the position of President of the American Psychological Association for several years
Furthermore this american psychologist affirmed that Psychology had taken too much care to the study of Psychopathology, that is to say to the sick “psyche“, and had forgotten the healthy or Eusychic mind. From the above he concluded that Psychology, having emphasized the pathological or “sick”, had obtained a partial image of the human being and a pessimistic vision of its potentialities.
In his studies on healthy people Maslow highlighted the value of spontaneity, self-acceptance, impulsive awareness, naturalness and liberation as agents that oppose destructive tendencies. He also highlighted the scope of the inherent potentialities of humanity.
Abraham Maslow affirmed that the human being has certain basic needs. These needs are:
1.- The necessities necessary for the maintenance of life, which would be, on the one hand, hunger and thirst, and on the other the gratification of the impulses of affection and self-esteem. He called these needs D or Deficiency needs.
2.- Needs B or “Meta-needs”. They are what drive a person to self-realization, such as impulses to freedom, beauty, goodness, unity and justice.
Abraham Maslow said: “The restriction of the basic needs can lead the person to neurotic needs that, being really impossible to satisfy, give how to waste human potentiality and exhaust human energy. And this is the fundamental tragedy of mental illness development outcome“.
All the above was captured in a graphic way in his famous pyramid, the “Maslow Pyramid” as it is known
Maslow with his “Psychology of the Third Force” advocated a “Self-Realizing Creativity” that would lead to health and growth. And he added that real people who accept themselves and others are self-realizing. These people would be spontaneous, creative and independent subjects.
In his last studies he talks about “Maximum Experiences” to refer to mystical or self-transcendental experiences.
Most of Maslow theories were exposed in his book “Towards a Psychology of Being“.
(Edited by María Moya Guirao, M.D.)