Some thoughts from Abraham Maslow
from Toward a Psychology of Being


"Sickness might consist of not having symptoms when you should."

"If you tell me you have a personality problem, I am not certain until I know you better whether to say 'Good!' or 'I'm sorry.'"

"Logical positivism has been a failure."

"Another consequence for my thinking of this stress on the twofold nature of man is the realization that some problems must remain eternally insoluble."

"What would an S-R man be like? And who would like to be one?"

Some existential philosophers are stressing the self-making of the self too exclusively. Sartre and others speak of the "self as a project," which is wholly created by the continued (and arbitrary choices of the person himself, almost as if he could make himself into anything he decided to be. Of course in so extreme a form, this is almost certainly an overstatement, which is directly contradicted by the facts of genetics and of constitutional psychology. As a matter of fact, it is just plain silly."

"Tragedy can sometimes be therapeutic."

"What we call 'normal' in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average, so undramatic and so widely spread that we don't even notice it ordinarily."

"The loss of illusions and the discovery of identity, though painful at first, can be ultimately exhilarating and strengthening."

"Growth is, in itself, a rewarding and exciting process, e.g., the fulfilling of yearnings and ambitions, like that of being a good doctor; the acquisition of admired skills, like playing the violin or being a good carpenter; the steady increase of understanding about people or about the universe, or about oneself; the development of creativeness in whatever field, or, most important, simply the ambition to be a good human being."

"Growth takes place when the next step forward is subjectively more delightful, more joyous, more intrinsically satisfying than the previous gratification with which we have become familiar and even bored; the only way we can ever know what is right for us is that it feels better subjectively than any alternative. The new experience validates itself rather than by any outside criterion. It is self-justifying, self-validating."

"We can consider the process of healthy growth to be a never ending series of free choice situations, confronting each individual at every point throughout his life, in which he must choose between the delights of safety and growth, dependence and independence, regression and progression, immaturity and maturity."

"Ultimately the person, even the child, must choose for himself."

"Even the 'bad' choice is 'good for' the neurotic chooser."

"The single holistic principle that binds together the multiplicity of human motives is the tendency for a new and higher need to emerge as the lower need fulfills itself by being sufficiently gratified."

"The really bright student, the eager questioner, the probing searcher, especially if he is brighter than his teacher, is too often seen as a 'wise guy,' a threat to discipline, a challenger of his teacher's authority."

"Contemporary psychology has mostly studied not-having rather than having, striving rather than fulfillment, frustration rather than gratification, seeking for joy rather than having attained joy, trying to get there rather than being there."

"It is possible in the aesthetic experience or the love experience to become so absorbed and 'poured into' the object that the self, in a very real sense, disappears."

"In the cognition of the peak-experience, the will does not interfere."

"Self-actualization is a matter of degree and of frequency rather than an all-or-none affair."

"The lover perceives in the beloved what no one else can."

"A husband's conviction that his wife is beautiful, or a wife's firm belief that her husband is courageous, to some extent creates the beauty or the courage. This is not so much a perception of something that already exists as a brining into existence by belief."

"Partly identity is whatever we say it is."

"People in peak-experiences are most their identities, closest to their real selves, most idiosyncratic."

"Rubricizing is a cheap form of cognizing, i.e., really a form of not-cognizing, a quick, easy cataloguing whose function is to make unnecessary the effort required by more careful, idiographic perceiving or thinking. To place a person in a system takes less energy than to know him in his own right, since in the former instance, all that has to be perceived is that one abstracted characteristic which indicates his belongingness in a class."

"What is tragic and real and unique to the child cannot be laughed at even though it has happened and will happen to millions of others."

"People with the capacity to love have the impulse to love and the need to love in order to feel healthy. Capacity clamors to be used, and cease their clamor only when they are used sufficiently."

"Heaven, so to speak, lies waiting for us through life, ready to step into for a time and to enjoy before we have to come back to our ordinary life of striving. And once we have been in it, we can remember it forever, and feed ourselves on this memory and be sustained in time of stress."

"I have discovered the missing link between the anthropoid apes and civilized men. It's us!"

"We must learn to think holistically rather than atomistically."

"Almost all needs, capacities, and talents can be satisfied in a variety of ways."

"Authentic selfhood can be defined in part as being able to hear the impulse-voices within oneself, i.e., to know what one really wants or doesn't want, what one is fit for and what one is not fit for."

"Every person is, in part, 'his own project' and makes himself."

"The human being is simultaneously that which he is and that which he yearns to be."

"Research findings are rare, but there is now available a large store of clinical and educational experience which allows us to make a reasonable guess that the young child needs not only gratification; he needs also to learn the limitations that the physical world puts upon his gratifications, and he has to learn that other human beings seek for gratifications, too, even his mother and father, i.e., they are not only means to his ends. This means control, delay, limits, renunciation, frustration-tolerance and discipline. Only to the self-disciplined and responsible person can we say, "Do as you will, and it will probably be all right."

"Our psychology journals and conferences are primarily suitable for the communication and discussion of the rational, the abstract, the logical, the public, the impersonal, the nomothetic, the repeatable, the objective, the unemotional. They thereby assume the very things that we 'personal psychologists' are trying to change. In other words, they beg the question. One result is that as therapists or as self-observers we are still forced by academic custom to talk about our own experiences or those of patients in about the same way as we might talk about bacteria, or about the moon, or about white rats, assuming the the subject-object cleavage, assuming that we are detached, distant and uninvolved, assuming that we (and the objects of perception) are unmoved and unchanged by the act of observation, assuming that we can split of the 'I' from the 'Thou,' assuming that all observation, thinking, expression and communication must be cool and never warm, assuming that cognition can only be contaminated or distorted by emotion.

In a word, we keep trying to use the canons and folkways of impersonal science for our personal science, but I am convinced that this won't work. It is also quite clear to me now that the scientific revolution that some of us are cooking up (as we construct a philosophy of science large enough to include experiential knowledge) must extend itself to the folkways of intellectual communication as well."

We must make explicit what we all accept implicitly, that our kind of work is often felt deeply and comes out of deep personal grounds, that we sometimes fuse with the objects of study rather than splitting from them, that we are usually profoundly involved, and that we must be if our work is not to be fake. We must also accept honestly and express candidly the profound truth that most of our 'objective' work is simultaneously subjective, that our outer world is frequently isomorphic with our inner world, that the 'external' problems we deal with 'scientifically' are often also our own internal problems, and that our solutions to these problems are also, in principle, self-therapies in the broadest sense."

"I am suggesting that we enlarge the jurisdiction of science so as to include within its realm the problems and the data of personal and experiential psychology. Many scientists have abdicated from these problems, considering them 'unscientific." Leaving them to non-scientists, however, supports the separation of the world of science from the world of the 'humanities' which is now crippling them both."

The B-values
as revised in 1971's The Farther Reaches of Human Nature

  1. Truth: honesty; reality; (nakedness; simplicity; richness; essentiality; oughtness; beauty; pure; clean and unadulterated completeness).
  2. Goodness: (rightness; desirability; oughtness; justice; benevolence; honesty); (we love it, are attracted to it, approve of it);
  3. Beauty: (rightness; form; aliveness; simplicity; richness; wholeness, perfection; completion; uniqueness; honesty);
  4. Wholeness: (unity; integration; tendency to oneness; interconnectedness; simplicity; organization; structure; order, not dissociated; synergy; homonymous and integrative tendencies);
    4a. Dichotomy-transcendence: (acceptance, resolution, integration, or transcendence of dichotomies, polarities, opposites, contradictions); synergy (i.e., transformation of oppositions into unities, of antagonists into collaborating or mutually enhancing partners).
  5. Aliveness: (process; not-deadness; spontaneity; self-regulation; full-functioning; changing and yet remaining the same; expressing itself);
  6. Uniqueness: ((idiosyncrasy; individuality; noncomparability; novelty; quale; suchness; nothing else like it);
  7. Perfection: (nothing superfluous; nothing lacking; everything in its right place, unimprovable; just-rightness; just-so-ness; suitability; justice, completeness; nothing beyond; oughtness);
    7a. Necessity: (inevitability; it must be just that way; not changed in any slightest way; and it is good that it is that way).
  8. Completion: (ending; finality; justice; it’s finished; no more changing of the Gestalt; fulfilment; finis and telos; nothing missing or lacking; totality; fulfilment of destiny; cessation; climax; consummation closure; death before rebirth; cessation and completion of growth and development);
  9. Justice: (fairness; oughtness; suitability; architectonic quality; necessity; inevitability; disinterestedness; nonpartiality);
    9a. Order: (lawfulness; rightness; nothing superfluous; perfectly arranged).
  10. Simplicity: (honesty; nakedness; essentiality; abstract, unmistakability; essential skeletal structure; the heart of the matter; bluntness; only that which is necessary; without ornament, nothing extra or superfluous);
  11. Richness: (differentiation; complexity; intricacy; totality; nothing missing or hidden; all there; “nonimportance”; i.e., every thing is equally important; nothing is unimportant; everything left the way it is, without improving, simplifying, abstracting, rearranging);
  12. Effortlessness: (ease; lack of strain, striving, or difficulty; grace; perfect and beautiful functioning);
  13. Playfulness: (fun; joy; amusement; gaiety; humor; exuberance; effortlessness);
  14. Self-sufficiency: (autonomy; independence; not-needing-other-than-itself-in-order-to-be-itself; self-determining; environment-transcendence; separateness; living by its own laws; identity).

[Personal note: I am not a fan of psychological laundry lists, but, as lists go, this one is fine. I've been working hard on each of the values and, at present, I'm only lacking #1.]

from A Theory of Human Motivation

Propositions that would have to be included in any theory of human motivation that could lay claim to being definitive.

  1. The integrated wholeness of the organism must be one of the foundation stones of motivation theory.

  2. The hunger drive (or any other physiological drive) was rejected as a centering point or model for a definitive theory of motivation. Any drive that is somatically based and localizable was shown to be atypical rather than typical in human motivation.

  3. Such a theory should stress and center itself upon ultimate or basic goals rather than partial or superficial ones, upon ends rather than means to these ends. Such a stress would imply a more central place for unconscious than for conscious motivations.

  4. There are usually available various cultural paths to the same goal. Therefore conscious, specific, local-cultural desires are not as fundamental in motivation theory as the more basic, unconscious goals.

  5. Any motivated behavior, either preparatory or consummatory, must be understood to be a channel through which many basic needs may be simultaneously expressed or satisfied. Typically an act has more than one motivation.

  6. Practically all organismic states are to be understood as motivated and as motivating.

  7. Human needs arrange themselves in hierarchies of pre-potency. That is to say, the appearance of one need usually rests on the prior satisfaction of another, more pre-potent need. Man is a perpetually wanting animal. Also no need or drive can be treated as if it were isolated or discrete; every drive is related to the state of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of other drives.

  8. Lists of drives will get us nowhere for various theoretical and practical reasons. Furthermore any classification of motivations [p. 371] must deal with the problem of levels of specificity or generalization the motives to be classified.

  9. Classifications of motivations must be based upon goals rather than upon instigating drives or motivated behavior.

  10. Motivation theory should be human-centered rather than animal-centered.

  11. The situation or the field in which the organism reacts must be taken into account but the field alone can rarely serve as an exclusive explanation for behavior. Furthermore the field itself must be interpreted in terms of the organism. Field theory cannot be a substitute for motivation theory.

  12. Not only the integration of the organism must be taken into account, but also the possibility of isolated, specific, partial or segmental reactions. It has since become necessary to add to these another affirmation.

  13. Motivation theory is not synonymous with behavior theory. The motivations are only one class of determinants of behavior. While behavior is almost always motivated, it is also almost always biologically, culturally and situationally determined as well.

additional passages selected by Professor Gio Valiante

"It should be pointed out that any of the physiological needs and the consummatory behavior involved with them serve as channels for all sorts of other needs as well. A person who thinks he is hungry may actually be seeking more for comfort, or dependence, than for vitamins or proteins."

"Culture itself is an adaptive tool . . ."

"It is quite true that man lives by bread alone - when there is no bread. But what happens to man's desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled? At once other (and 'higher') needs emerge and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and still 'higher') needs emerge and so on. This is what we mean by saying that the basic human needs are organized into a hierarchy of relative prepotency."

"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be."

"People who have been made secure and strong in the earliest years tend to remain secure and strong thereafter in the face of whatever threatens."

"Within the sphere of motivational determinants any behavior tends to be determined by several or all of the basic needs simultaneously rather than by only one of them ... One may make love not only for pure sexual release, but also to convince one's self of one's masculinity, or to make a conquest, to feel powerful, or to win more basic affection."

"A stupid man behaves stupidly, not because he wants to, or tries to, or is motivated to, but simply because he is what he is."

"Who is to say that a lack of love is less important than a lack of vitamins?"

"Man is a perpetually wanting animal."