"If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character...Would you slow down? Or speed up?" — Chuck Palahniuk

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Self Actualization & You!"

"Self Actualization is the intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately, of what the organism is."
Abraham Maslow

In my post yesterday I talked about wants and needs, it seems I had Maslow in the back of my mind but never really called him by name...When we talk about needs and wants from a human perspective we should always invoke Maslow's Self Actualization Theory...I actually touch upon a few of his basic principles but never fully explore them, so lets do that now...First a little about Maslow from Wikipedia:

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Maslow was the first of seven children of Jewish immigrants from Russia. As his parents were uneducated, they pushed him hard to succeed academically. At first, Abraham acceded to their wishes and enrolled in the City College of New York. However, after three semesters he transferred to Cornell, then back to CCNY. After he married his first cousin, Bertha Maslow, he moved to Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received his B.A. (1930), his M.A. (1932), and his Ph.D. (1934) in psychology. While in Wisconsin, Maslow met and studied with Harry Harlow, who was known for his controversial experiments on rhesus monkeys and attachment behavior. A year after graduation, Maslow returned to New York to work with E. L. Thorndike at Columbia University|Columbia.

Maslow began teaching full time at Brooklyn College. During this time he met many leading European psychologists, including Alfred AdlerErich Fromm. In 1951, Maslow became the chairman of the psychology department at Brandeis University, where he began his theoretical work. There, he met Kurt Goldstein, who introduced him to the idea of self-actualization. Later, Maslow developed self-actualization into an area for research and application. In fact, Maslow dedicated "Toward a Psychology of Being"(1968) to Kurt Goldstein. and

He retired to California, where he died of a heart attack in 1970, aged 62, after years of ill health.

Maslow's primary contribution to psychology is his Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow postulated that needs are arranged in a hierarchy in terms of their potency. Although all needs are instinctive, some are more powerful than others. The lower the need is in the pyramid, the more powerful it is. The higher the need is in the pyramid, the weaker and more distinctly human it is. The lower, or basic, needs on the pyramid are similar to those possessed by non-human animals, but only humans possess the higher needs. MORE!

Maslow also had a very different approach to psychology in respects to the fact that he studied healthy people instead of sick people...Maslow once wrote, "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy." Kind of like if your crazy your world view is going to be crazy...No exactly like that...

Maslow identified four basic or innate needs and they are: physiological, safety/security, love/belongingness, and self-esteem...These needs have to be met if they are not met, physiological needs can control thoughts and behaviours, and can cause people to feel sickness, pain, and discomfort. The lower the need is in the pyramid the more vital it is (see illustration)...


Here is my problem...Does the next level automatically become a need or is it a want because the basic needs have been met? We can live without the other 4 levels of the pyramid, but what happens is the person is out of tune...For example we can go without sex but there will definitely be some kind of other issues to arise in some other area of your life because that basic physiological need for sex is not met...Try to stop breathing see what happens...It goes without saying if we do not have food and water for any extended periods we are at risk of damaging our bodies beyond repair...Which reminds me I haven't had any water in two days...BRB! Ahhhh refreshing! We can see where the need to belong has been hijacked by religion...

There are 10 basic principles that Maslow worked from:

Maslow's Basic Principles:

1. The normal personality is characterized by unity, integration, consistency, and coherence. Organization is the natural state, and disorganization is pathological.

2. The organism can be analyzed by differentiating its parts, but no part can be studied in isolation. The whole functions according to laws that cannot be found in the parts.

3. The organism has one sovereign drive, that of self-actualization. People strive continuously to realize their inherent potential by whatever avenues are open to them.

4. The influence of the external environment on normal development is minimal. The organism's potential, if allowed to unfold by an appropriate environment, will produce a healthy, integrated personality.

5. The comprehensive study of one person is more useful than the extensive investigation, in many people, of an isolated psychological function.

6. The salvation of the human being is not to be found in either behaviorism or in psychoanalysis, (which deals with only the darker, meaner half of the individual). We must deal with the questions of value, individuality, consciousness, purpose, ethics and the higher reaches of human nature.

7. Man is basically good not evil.

8. Psychopathology generally results from the denial, frustration or twisting of our essential nature.

9. Therapy of any sort, is a means of restoring a person to the path of self-actualization and development along the lines dictated by their inner nature.

10. When the four basic needs have been satisfied, the growth need or self-actualization need arises: A new discontent and restlessness will develop unless the individual is doing what he individually is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write--in short, what people can be they must be.

Like I stated above I had Maslow in mind when I was writing the Sex, Love & The lies We Tell Ourselves post's but just couldn't remember where I read it or who I was channeling at the time of the post...Thanks Debbs! I talk about Principles 7 & 8 all of the time on this blog...Here are some of the characteristics Maslow noted in self-actualizing people

  • They embrace the facts and realities of the world (including themselves) rather than denying or avoiding them.
  • They are spontaneous in their ideas and actions.
  • They are creative.
  • They are interested in solving problems; this often includes the problems of others. Solving these problems is often a key focus in their lives.
  • They feel a closeness to other people, and generally appreciate life.
  • They have a system of morality that is fully internalized and independent of external authority.
  • They have discernment and are able to view all things in an objective manner.

In short, self-actualization is reaching one's fullest potential. According to Maslow, the tendencies of self-actualizing people are as follows:

1. Awareness

  • efficient perception of reality
  • freshness of appreciation
  • peak experiences
  • ethical awareness

2. Honesty

  • philosophical sense of humor
  • social interest
  • deep interpersonal relationships
  • democratic character structure

3. Freedom

  • need for solitude
  • autonomous, independent
  • creativity, originality
  • spontaneous

4. Trust

  • problem centered
  • acceptance of self, others, nature
  • resistance to enculturation - identity with humanity

Hmmmmmm, so how many of you guy's are really self actualizing? Not a lot of you at all...I know for a fact some of you are no where near self actualization! I personally meet most if not all of the characteristics of a self actualizing person...How about your tendencies?! Most of us cannot get past the physiological level of our existence, and that is definitely by design...We are bombarded with images of sex and what type of car we have to have, what neighborhood to live in, and on and on, and they are operating on a subconscious level, working on feelings, emotions and bias that most folks do not realize they have...Don't despair not here yet? Maslow offers ways to get there...

Maslow says there are two processes necessary for self-actualization: self exploration and action. The deeper the self exploration, the closer one comes to self-actualization.


1. Experience things fully, vividly, selflessly. Throw yourself into the experiencing of something: concentrate on it fully, let it totally absorb you.

2. Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth): Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.

3. Let the self emerge. Try to shut out the external clues as to what you should think, feel, say, and so on, and let your experience enable you to say what you truly feel.

4. When in doubt, be honest. If you look into yourself and are honest, you will also take responsibility. Taking responsibility is self-actualizing.

5. Listen to your own tastes. Be prepared to be unpopular. (Don't I know it! HA!)

6. Use your intelligence, work to do well the things you want to do, no matter how insignificant they seem to be.

7. Make peak experiencing more likely: get rid of illusions and false notions. Learn what you are good at and what your potentialities are not.

8. Find out who you are, what you are, what you like and don't like, what is good and what is bad for you, where you are going, what your mission is. Opening yourself up to yourself in this way means identifying defenses--and then finding the courage to give them up.

This is evolution...I mentioned in my Maniac Monday's post this week:

When evolution stops or is impeded, no growth can happen and the society itself stagnates and eventually over time that stagnation turns into rot, left unchecked that rot can and will spread...We are at a point in human history where evolution is being impeded and the world is suffering for that...

When we stop striving to be the best we can be by being self actualizing we also start to stagnate and rot and we die inside, that turns into apathy and it spreads...We really have to take a long look at the outside influences that keep people from becoming Self Actualizing...I still have the question open as to whether or not once are basic needs are met doesn't everything else turn into a want? Any thoughts?!

Self Actually Yours,
The New Defenders of Evolution!

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