Marxist Psychological Theory


MASLOW'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY. The American psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow (1908-1970) advanced a holistic, organismic, dynamic, and humanistic viewpoint of personality that has features similar to the theories of Kurt Goldstein and Andras Angyal. However, where Goldstein's and Angyal's theories are derived from the study of mentally unhealthy and brain-damaged individuals, Maslow's theory of personality derives from the study of creative, healthy, and "self-actualized" persons. Consequently, Maslow's approach toward personality tends to be optimistic, health-oriented, and growth/potential-oriented. Maslow distinguishes between the terms basic needs and meta-needs where needs are organized in a hierarchy (need-hierarchy theory) or pyramid with the basic needs (such as food, air, water, sex, affection, and security) at the bottom and requiring satisfaction before moving up the pyramid to the metaneeds at the top. The list of metaneeds includes: wholeness and perfection - the need for unity and completeness; justice - the need for fairness; aliveness and richness - the needs for spontaneity and complexity; beauty - the need for rightness and form; goodness - the need for benevolence; uniqueness - the need for individuality; truth -the need for reality; and self-sufficiency - the need for autonomy. According to Maslow's model, persons cannot be concerned with a lofty principle such as justice unless their "lower" need for food is met first. However, metaneeds are as important as basic needs in order to achieve a desirable state of self-actualization. When metaneeds are not fulfilled, the individual typically becomes cynical, alienated, and apathetic toward the world. Maslow identified certain peak experiences of living (such as maternal child-birth) that are characterized by profound feelings of spontaneity and harmony with the universe. Maslow cites various historical figures as illustrations of self-actualized persons: Beethoven, Einstein, Lincoln, Jefferson, Thoreau, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Walt Whitman. According to Maslow, such individuals possessed the requisite personality characteristics of self-actualization: realistic orientation of themselves within the world, complete acceptance of themselves and others, problem-oriented rather than self-oriented, highly private and detached, high levels of spontaneity and independence, and nonconformity to their culture. As a critic of science, Maslow assert-ed that the classical mechanistic approach of science (e.g., the behavioristic viewpoint in psychology) was inappropriate for characterizing the whole individual, and he advocated a humanistic approach, which he called the third force in American psychology, following the psychoanalytic and behavioristic viewpoints/forces. Criticisms of Maslow's humanistic theory of personality include the points that it is more of a secular replacement for religion than it is a scientific psychology, that it accepts as true that which is yet only hypothetical, that it confuses theory with ideology, and that it substitutes rhetoric for research. See also ANGYAL'S PERSONALITY THEORY; BEHAVIORIST THEORY; FREUD'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; GOLDSTEIN'S ORGANISMIC THEORY; MOTIVATION, THEORIES OF; PERSONALITY THEORIES; ROGERS' THEORY OF PERSONALITY. REFERENCES

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370-396. Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper & Row.

Maslow, A. H. (1962). Toward a psychology of being. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.

Maslow, A. H. (1967). A theory of metamotivation: The biological rooting of the value-life. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 7, 93-127. Maslow, A. H. (1970). Religions, values, and peak experiences. New York: Penguin Books.

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