Chapter 10: Humanistic Theory
King of the Mountain
Perhaps the most well known contribution to humanistic psychology was introduced by Abraham Maslow. Maslow originally studied psychology because of his intrigue with behavioral theory and the writings of John B. Watson.
Maslow grew up Jewish in a non-Jewish neighborhood. He spent much of his childhood alone and reported that books were often his best friends. Despite this somewhat lonely childhood, he maintained his belief in the goodness of mankind. After the birth of his first child, his devotion to Watson's beliefs began a drastic decline. He was struck with the sense that he was not nearly in control as much as Watson and other behaviorists believed. He saw more to human life than just external reinforcement and argued that human's could not possibly be born without any direction or worth.
At the time when he was studying psychology, behaviorism and psychoanalysis were considered the big two. Most courses studies these theories and much time was spent determining which theory one would follow. Maslow was on a different path.
He criticized behaviorism and later took the same approach with Freud and his writings. While he acknowledged the presence of the unconscious, he disagreed with Freud's belief that the vast majority of who we are is buried deep beyond our awareness. Maslow believed that we are aware of our motives and drives for the most part and that without the obstacles of life, we would all become psychologically healthy individuals with a deep understanding of ourselves and an acceptance of the world around us. Where Freud saw much negativity, Maslow focused his efforts on understanding the positives of mankind. It could be said that psychoanalytic thought is based on determinism, or aspects beyond our control, and humanistic thought is based on free will.
Maslow's most well known contribution is the Hierarchy of Needs and this is often used to summarize the...
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