Who is Abraham Maslow?

Who is Abraham Maslow?

December 13, 2020 Off By Felso

He is an American thinker who lived between April 1, 1908 and June 8, 1970.

Born in a Jewish family that immigrated to the USA from Russia, Maslow was born and raised in New York. He was a professor of psychology at Brandeis University and contributed to the emergence of humanistic psychology.

Maslow served at Brooklyn College from 1937 to 1951. Here he found two more mentors whose professionalism and individuality admired; Anthropologist Ruth Benedict and Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer. He wanted to deal with these two issues together. In this way, he could understand “the magnificent human nature”. Maslow began taking notes on these two behaviors. He wrote extensive articles on these. As a result of these efforts, studies such as the hierarchy of needs theory, Meta motivation, Self-update and Peak life have emerged. Maslow became the symbol of the humanistic school in psychology in the 1950s and 1960s with his writings. As a result, he was awarded the Humanist of the Year award by the American Humanist Association.

Born in Brooklyn, Maslow had an unhappy childhood.

His father was a woman chasing, alcoholic and indifferent to his family. Her mother was a woman of strong superstitions, and she punished little Maslow with the slightest wrongdoing, holding her other two young children above Maslow. Maslow remembers watching how his mother killed the two cats he brought home by hitting the wall. Maslow never spared the way his mother treated him. He even refused to attend the funeral when his mother died. Those years Maslow lived affected his entire life.

He wrote: “All my life philosophy and all my research and theories are rooted in my disgust and hatred of what my mother did to me” (Hoffman, 1988, p. 9).

Maslow had a feeling of inferiority in his childhood due to his emaciated weakness and a huge nose.He explained that he could not overcome this feeling of inferiority in his adolescence, and even tried to compensate it by improving his athletic skills. Therefore, this man himself, who later dealt with Adler’s inferiority and his thoughts of concession, himself became an example of Adler’s theory. Maslow failed to gain acceptance in the athletic field and turned to the books instead. Later, he enrolled at Cornell University for his first psychology course, which he said “terrible, soulless and has nothing to do with people, so it made me shiver and walk away from it” (Hoffman, 1988, p. 26).

Maslow’s professor in this course was E. B. Titchener. Maslow transferred to the University of Wisconsin and completed his doctorate in 1934. Maslow was initially an enthusiastic behaviorist and was convinced that a psychology with a mechanical natural-science approach could answer all the world’s problems. Later, a series of personal experiences – the birth of his first child, II. The beginning of World War II and his encounter with other philosophical ideas about human nature, Gestalt psychology and psychoanalysis – convinced Maslow that behaviorism was too limited to address human affairs.

Maslow was also impressed by his contacts with European psychologists such as Adler, Horney, Koffka, and Wertheimer, who fled Nazi Germany and settled in the USA. The fear and curiosity he felt for Max Wertheimer and the American anthropologist Ruth Benedict led Maslow to conduct his first research into psychologically healthy, self-fulfilled people. According to Wertheimer and Benedict Maslow, they were the most perfect examples of human nature. His attempts to make psychology more human, which Maslow first attempted while teaching in Brooklyn, had negative personal consequences. The behavioral psychology community broke with him. Although his students found his work interesting, his faculty colleagues avoided him because of his thoughts outside of traditional views.

It was thought that Maslow had moved away from the dominant school of psychology and therefore important psychology journals would not publish his articles and works (DeCarvallo, 1990). Maslow developed, rearranged and presented his theory in a series of books from 1951 to 1969 at Brandeis University in Waltham. Sensitivity groups supported the movement and became a very famous person in the 1960s. He was elected president of the APA in 1967.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Class “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2., 3., 4. Class “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook

See also:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Class “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2., 3., 4. Class “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook