Motivation and Personality

Motivation and Personality

A statement on self-actualisation and data. Applications are made to the theories and science of personality, psychotherapy, personal growth and general psychology....

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Title:Motivation and Personality
Author:Abraham H. Maslow
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Edition Language:English

Motivation and Personality Reviews

  • Ron Davison

    Maslow was such a full human being and in this book he reveals a great deal about how to experience life fully. A beautiful man and a beautiful book.

  • Brian Johnson

    “What human beings can be, they must be.”

    “They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people, or even of their affection. The honors, the status, the rewards, the popularity, the prestige, and the love they can bestow must have become less important than self-development and inner growth.”

    ~ Abraham Maslow from Motivation and Personality

    Abraham Maslow. The guy’s a rock star.

    A 20th century humanistic psychologist to whom we owe thanks for

    “What human beings can be, they must be.”

    “They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people, or even of their affection. The honors, the status, the rewards, the popularity, the prestige, and the love they can bestow must have become less important than self-development and inner growth.”

    ~ Abraham Maslow from Motivation and Personality

    Abraham Maslow. The guy’s a rock star.

    A 20th century humanistic psychologist to whom we owe thanks for the advent of the modern trend in Positive Psychology, Maslow coined the phrase “the self-actualizing individual” and developed his framework of a “hierarchy of needs” we ascend as we evolve in our hero’s journeys.

    In my spiritual family tree, he occupies the great-grandfather slot (with Ralph Waldo Emerson in the Great-Great + Grandfather slot and Joseph Campbell as the Granddaddy and a host of brilliant guys occupying the spiritual daddy seat :).

    I love the guy. In fact, his phrase “What one *can* be, one *must* be!” captures my ethos in life more than any other.

    Think about that: What you CAN be, you MUST be. There is, in Maslow’s language, a NEED you have to self-actualize—to live at your highest potential and to express your latent potentialities. If you don’t fulfill this need, it’s like depriving your soul of oxygen. Although you (may not) gasp as noticeably as you would if your more basic need of physical oxygen were deprived, you WILL experience equally (albeit more subtle) painful symptoms of angst, anxiety, depression and all that (which, of course, are often medicated with pills, TV, alcohol, complaining, asinine conversations, etc. :).

    Here are some of the Big Ideas:

    1. The Self-Actualizer - Become what thou art!

    2. Growth or Safety? - Which way you headed?

    3. No One’s Perfect - Not even us. :)

    4. Thank You! - Good practice.

    5. Your (Extended) Family - Time for a reunion!

    Here's my video review:

    And click here to find 250+ more of my reviews:

    Brian

  • Joanna

    One of my all-time favorite books. Maslow basically explains in detail the characteristics of an emotionally healthy person. A good benchmark and inspiring.

  • Caroline

    I found this incredibly meaningful, and optimistic about humanity and human potential. Also practical in a certain sense, in the way expansive and abstract issues can be managed in the context of mundane, quotidian life.

  • Kristo

    Brilliant book! If Maslow's hierarchy of needs sympathized you, then I'm quite sure this book has many ideas and new perspectives to give. A must read for the ones interested in psychology and motivation in my opinion.

  • Teri Temme

    Wow - incredible book. I am once again amazed I missed this book the first time I was introduced to Maslow oh so long ago. Maybe it wasn't time yet. Every chapter had a great insight into society and the ways in which we view each other and ourselves. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking answers to "Why do people do that?".

    Here's a sampling:

    The exclusive study of our failures and breakdowns will hardly breed inspiration, hopefulness, and optimistic ambitions in

    Wow - incredible book. I am once again amazed I missed this book the first time I was introduced to Maslow oh so long ago. Maybe it wasn't time yet. Every chapter had a great insight into society and the ways in which we view each other and ourselves. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking answers to "Why do people do that?".

    Here's a sampling:

    The exclusive study of our failures and breakdowns will hardly breed inspiration, hopefulness, and optimistic ambitions in either the layman or the scientist.

    It is dangerous to see in the world what we have put into it rather than what is actually there.

    And my absolute favorite:

    Even if all these needs (physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem) are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization (man's desire for self-fulfillment). This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.

  • May Ling

    Now that is a freakin 5 star book.

    Really profound. If published in today's world of social media, he'd be there with Freakanomics or Blink. I get why his thoughts are still referred to even today!!

    Dude is controversial, often totally mis-attributed, misunderstood and more, despite that he's referenced a lot. So many people say the hierarchy is untrue without having a clue as to what he was on about. Yet, if you read this, it's like wow... ok.... interesting way to frame s

    Now that is a freakin 5 star book.

    Really profound. If published in today's world of social media, he'd be there with Freakanomics or Blink. I get why his thoughts are still referred to even today!!

    Dude is controversial, often totally mis-attributed, misunderstood and more, despite that he's referenced a lot. So many people say the hierarchy is untrue without having a clue as to what he was on about. Yet, if you read this, it's like wow... ok.... interesting way to frame stuff....

    For examples, haters say he's against science or scientific method - sci meth. Instead, he's just saying... let's be a bit more honest about what we doin'. Step 1... curiosity, not a formula. Word.

    I mean huge fan of Sci Meth, but dude is right. Curiosity shouldn't be constrained by lack of tools. You end up thinkin' the world is flat cause you don't have the right boating tools or there is no way to cure a disease, etc.

    Personally, I think he's taken out of temporal context. Peeps at the time be drawin conclusions on whole sets of people, their intelligence, ability, how you figure out urban problems, etc... by use of the tools of the time. I mean the tools of today would disprove loads of the stuff.

    Instead, his deal is.... Maybe Mr. Scientist you say to yourself... Self, if I don't have the tool, let's go and build it, create it, figure it out, because just because the tool isn't available now, does not mean stuff's unknowable or that my conclusion's right on the small sliver that I barely proved via my biases of excluding everything that didn't fit. Profound and brave...IMO. I whole heartedly heart.

    And the Hierarchy, subsequently visualized as a pyramid... Thumbs up smiley! I mean take China for instance. First world western peeps be like democratize (which requires a whole lot of self-actualization) and China be like... dude... people starving hungry... gotta sort that out first because starving people don't really self-actualize ... they overthrow order arbitrarily and freak out into chaos. China 1980 ain't like first world peeps where some people be holdin out... there's like a billion people up in here. I'm not sayin they don't have some messed up stuff. But I kind of feel them on the whole let's feed people first approach. IMO Maslow would have been down, man had a point....

    Some of this higher order stuff... self esteem, etc... I mean... super practical... super visible even today, super-critical to a creatin' good society. Some crazy dudes will go to lengths. Failing to have self-esteem they will destroy others or do some cold mean stuff to an entire society.... like .....oh I don't know.... create a war against an entire religion of people and refuse to let refugees seek haven in a safe country, ya know... junk like that...

    He's got like 400 citations a lot by comparison to other books. Now a lot of them .... they's his own stuff, but it's all good. My fav is how he uses a story by Orson Wells. Context about bein' normal and well-adjusted. Peeps sayin' how we want our kids and people we love to be well-adjusted, havin' friends, loved by others, but we never ask the question "well-adjusted to what?" I mean he's speakin post WWII where a whole country of well-adjusted people became Nazi's and committed genocide.

    Now you know wif a name like Abraham, he gotta be thinking it. But instead of coming out and just sayin....hey buddy your way of thinking about normal just killed a bunch of my peeps in a super horrible way, he chooses this story from Well's "The Valley of the Blind" and says that in that story, where no one has sight, so the dude that could see was the abnormal one. I mean... that is class right there.... He's writing for the educated, high society which at the time.... call it like it is...was a bunch of male WASPs. Dude is Jewish. He doesn't go there though. Takes the high road with a neutral story. Claaaaassssssssy.....IMO.

    I dig this book. Props Maslow... Props.

  • Ilya Mrz

    “What one *can* be, one *must* be!”

    “They have become strong

    enough to be independent

    of the good opinion of

    other people, or even

    of their affection. The

    honors, the status, the

    rewards, the popularity,

    the prestige, and the love

    they can bestow must

    have become less important

    than self-development and

    inner growth.”

    ~ Abraham Maslow

    “Self-actualizing individuals have a genuine desire to help the human race.

    “What one *can* be, one *must* be!”

    “They have become strong

    enough to be independent

    of the good opinion of

    other people, or even

    of their affection. The

    honors, the status, the

    rewards, the popularity,

    the prestige, and the love

    they can bestow must

    have become less important

    than self-development and

    inner growth.”

    ~ Abraham Maslow

    “Self-actualizing individuals have a genuine desire to help the human race.”

    ~ Abraham Maslow

    =========================

    1. Perception of Reality: These individuals tend to have a “superior relationship with reality” and are “generally unthreatened and unfrightened by the unknown.” In fact, “They accept it, are comfortable with it, and, often are even more attracted by it than by the known. They not only tolerate the ambiguous and unstructured—they like it.”

    2. Acceptance: “Even the normal member of our culture feels unnecessarily guilty or ashamed about too many things and has anxiety in too many situations. Our healthy individuals find it possible to accept themselves and their own nature without chagrin or complaint or, for that matter, without even thinking about the matter that much.”

    3. Spontaneity: The behavior of the self-actualizing individual is “marked by simplicity and naturalness, and by lack of artificiality or straining for effect.”

    4. Problem Centering: Self-actualizers customarily have some “mission in life.”

    5. Solitude: Self-actualizing individuals “positively like solitude and privacy to a definitely greater degree than the average person.”

    6. Autonomy: “They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people, or even of their affection. The honors, the status, the rewards, the popularity, the prestige, and the love they can bestow must have become less important than self-development and inner growth.”

    7. Fresh Appreciation: “Self-actualizing people have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.”

    8. Peak Experiences: It’s been called “flow” or “being in the zone.” Whatever you want to call it, self-actualizers tend to experience it more often than average.

    9. Human Kinship: “Self-actualizing people have a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection for human beings in general. They feel kinship and connection, as if all people were members of a single family.” … “Self-actualizing individuals have a genuine desire to help the human race.”

    10. Humility and Respect: All of Maslow’s subjects “may be said to be democratic people in the deepest sense… they can be friendly with anyone of suitable character, regardless of class,education, political belief, race or color. As a matter of fact it often seems as if they are not aware of these differences, which are for the average person so obvious and so important.”

    11. Interpersonal Relationships: “Self-actualizing people have these especially deep ties with rather few individuals. Their circle of friends is rather small. The ones that they love profoundly are few in number.”

    12. Ethics: “They do right and do not do wrong. Needless to say, their notions of right and wrong and of good and evil are often not the conventional ones.”

    13. Means and Ends: “They are fixed on ends rather than on means, and means are quite definitely subordinated to these ends.”

    14. Humor: “They do not consider funny what the average person considers to be funny. Thus they do not laugh at hostile humor (making people laugh by hurting someone) or superiority humor (laughing at someone else’s inferiority) or authority-rebellion humor (the unfunny, Oedipal, or smutty joke).”

    15. Creativity: “This is a universal characteristic of all the people studied or observed. There is no exception.”

    16. Resistance to Enculturation: “Of all of them it may be said that in a certain profound and meaningful sense they resist enculturation and maintain a certain inner detachment from the culture in which they are immersed.”

    17. Imperfections: Actualizers “show many of the lesser human failings. They too are equipped with silly, wasteful, or thoughtless habits. They can be boring, stubborn, irritating. They are by no means free from a rather superficial vanity, pride, partiality to their own productions, family, friends, and children. Temper outbursts are not rare.”

    18. Values: “A firm foundation for a value system is automatically furnished to self-actualizers by their philosophic acceptance of the nature of self, of human nature, of much of social life, and of nature and physical reality.”

    19. Resolution of Dichotomies: “The dichotomy between selfishness and unselfishness disappears altogether in healthy people because in principle every act is both selfish and unselfish.”

  • Lauren

    I've always been familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but found it to be very abstract and oversimplified, but now appreciate the ideas after reading this book.

    Our basic needs need to be met for a sense of security and love. When these two basic needs were not met, Maslow believes it leads to many pathological and neurotic symptoms seen in adults, symptoms that can only be cured through professional psychotherapy. Not sure if he paid enough credit to biological temperament, or if he relie

    I've always been familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but found it to be very abstract and oversimplified, but now appreciate the ideas after reading this book.

    Our basic needs need to be met for a sense of security and love. When these two basic needs were not met, Maslow believes it leads to many pathological and neurotic symptoms seen in adults, symptoms that can only be cured through professional psychotherapy. Not sure if he paid enough credit to biological temperament, or if he relied to heavily on causation due to thwarted needs. For example, in pathologically aggressive reactions:

    "If a person were actually to live in a jungle in which all other animals were divided into two classes, those who could eat him and those he could eat, aggression would become a sensible and logical thing. People described as authoritarian must frequently tend unconsciously to envisage the world as just such a jungle. On the principle that the best defense is a good attack, these people are apt to lash out".

    On the other hand, when these basic needs are met at an early age, higher needs become equally important to healthy adults (such as self esteem and self actualization), and these adults may actually have a higher capacity to forgo these basic needs in return for the strive towards higher needs.

    More controversially, Maslow also mentions that certain drives (sex drive, maternal instinct) have long been gone, and what we consider a 'drive' simply stems from "hereditary reflexes, autogenous learning, and cultural learning in the motivated behavior and in the choice of goal objects".

    In relation to healthy mental states, Maslow describes both clinical and societal definitions. I thought his reasoning for why we have created a societal definition was interesting, being "an attempt to do what the formal religions have tried to do and failed to do, that is, to offer people an understanding of human nature in relationship to itself, to other people, to society in general, and to the world in general, a frame of reference in which they could understand when they ought to feel guilty and when they ought not to feel guilty".

  • Jonathan Karmel

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs intuitively strikes me as being a useful model of psychological development. Less obvious is what exactly is meant by the top of the pyramid: self-actualization. I didn’t have the patience or focus to read this entire book, which seemed vague and meandering at times to me. But I was very interested in the chapter titled, “Self-Actualizing People: A Study of Psychological Health.”

    In the first chapter, “A ‘Psychological’ Approach to Science,” Maslow argues that s

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs intuitively strikes me as being a useful model of psychological development. Less obvious is what exactly is meant by the top of the pyramid: self-actualization. I didn’t have the patience or focus to read this entire book, which seemed vague and meandering at times to me. But I was very interested in the chapter titled, “Self-Actualizing People: A Study of Psychological Health.”

    In the first chapter, “A ‘Psychological’ Approach to Science,” Maslow argues that scientists have human motivations for what they do, and their truth isn’t necessarily more valid than anyone else’s. So the book begins by rejecting the concept of scientific objectivity. In the chapter on “self-actualizing people,” the “cases” are people the author interviewed, as well as historical figures: Lincoln in his last years, Thomas Jefferson, Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Addams, William James, Schweitzer, Aldous Huxley and Spinoza.

    The following are the characteristics of self-actualizing people, according to Maslow’s “study” of these “cases.”

    They have more efficient perception of reality and more comfortable relations with it. They are cognitively able to perceive objective reality. They understand the real world of nature, not simply believing what they or others want them to believe. They are not threatened by the unknown, they are open-minded to discovery, and they are secure with their own ignorance.

    They practice acceptance of themselves, others and nature. They are not guilty, anxious or ashamed; they stoically accept the sins, weaknesses and evils of human nature. They are comfortable with their own animal nature—eating, sleeping, having sex. They are not disgusted (literally) by reality, e.g., snot, feces, vomit, blood. They are not defensive. They don’t play mind games. They do not try to impress others. They accept their own shortcomings. However, they still feel bad about improvable shortcomings, vices, bad habits and that people and the world are not as they should be.

    Their behavior is marked by spontaneity, simplicity and naturalness. They have unconventional thoughts, though not necessarily actions. A light cloak of convention may be cast aside, but they only rebel with a cause. They follow their own non-conventional code of ethics. They are self-aware about and able to control their own subjective desires. They are not simply motivated. They have a meta-motivation to develop themselves. “For them motivation is just character growth.”

    They practice problem centering. They are focused on problems outside themselves based on philosophical beliefs in universal values; they are not ego-centered.

    The have a quality of detachment and a need for privacy. They can appear aloof, and they enjoy solitude. They are reserved, calm, serene, objective, dignified in the face of misfortune and self-disciplined. They make up their own minds; they are not pawns of propaganda. They exercise their free will more than others.

    They exhibit autonomy and maintain independence from culture and the environment. They have the will to be active agents. They are propelled by growth motivation, so they maintain serenity in bad circumstances. They believe the good life is inner-individual, not based on social status. They act independently of the opinion of others, even good opinion, because they only really care about self-development and inner growth.

    They have a continued freshness of appreciation. The moment-to-moment basic experience of life can be thrilling, exciting and ecstatic. Their subjective experience is rich, because they enjoy reality. They have frequent feelings of gratitude, thankfulness for their blessings and good fortune.

    They have mystic/peak experiences. They have transcendent/religious experiences, in which there is loss of self, including during sexual climax.

    They feel “gemeinschaftsgefühl,” a genuine desire to help the human race. They feel a love of humanity, fraternal, brotherly love. But they may act like an older brother to the average human. They may be like an alien to a typical person, because few really understand them.

    They have deeper, more profound interpersonal relationships, but only with a few people who are themselves also self-actualized types of people. They are kind, patient and compassionate but hostile to those who deserve it.

    They abide by a democratic character structure. They can befriend others regardless of class, education, political belief, race or color. They have the humility to understand that they can benefit from association with any type of person. Their elitism is for people of good character.

    They discriminate between means and ends and between good and evil. They are strongly ethical and have definite moral standards. They are religious in the sense of being goodly, or even Godly, though they may be atheists. They experience day-to-day moments as ends, not means.

    They have a philosophical, unhostile sense of humor. They have spontaneous humor intrinsic to the situation, and they laugh at the human condition.

    They show creativeness. They exhibit originality and inventiveness, not Mozart-like genius; but rather, like the uninhibited naivety of a child, acting and doing things with character and personality, not in a conventional way.

    They show a resistance to enculturation and a transcendence of any particular culture. It is ordinarily of no consequence which folkways are used. They follow convention with a shrug of the shoulders but understand that these are not moral issues. They act with directness and honesty. They are not radical; they are intellectual and realistically eschew useless sacrifice and ineffective fighting, but still work to improve the world. They enjoy life and having a good time; they are good-humored. They are not ethnocentric; they are citizens of the world. American self-actualized people exhibit American character but are not nationalistic.

    I think many people would have great respect for individuals who had these character traits. I might agree that such a person is virtuous, but I’m not sure that such a person is necessarily more mentally healthy. This seemed more like Maslow’s opinion about the type of person that is most likely to fulfill their teleological human potential than a description of mental health. I am not sure what the basis would be to conclude that a person who lacks these characteristics is somehow neurotic or mentally ill. But going back to what Maslow wrote in the first chapter, I think he is really combining natural and social science with the humanities, especially philosophy, to come up with a theory of what a fully developed person acts like. It may not be scientifically valid, but I personally think it is an attractive theory.

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