The personality theory of Abraham Maslow has variously been called humanistic theory, transpersonal theory, the third force hi psychology, the fourth force in personality, needs theory, and self-actualization theory. However, Maslow (1970) referred to it as a holistic-dynamic theory because it assumes that the whole person is constantly behig motivated by one need or another and that people have the potential to grow toward psychological health, that is, self-actualization. To attain self-actualization, people must satisfy lower level needs such as hunger, safety, love, and esteem. Only after they are relatively satisfied hi each of these needs can they reach self-actualization.
The theories of Maslow, Gordon Allport, Carl Rogers, Rollo May, and others are sometimes thought of as the third force in psychology. (The first force was psychoanalysis and its modifications; the second was behaviorism and its various forms). Like these other theorists, Maslow accepted some of the tenets of psychoanalysis and behaviorism. As a graduate student, he had studied Freud's
Interpretation of Dreams (Freud, 1900/1953) and became keenly interested in psychoanalysis. hi addition, his graduate-level research with primates was greatly influenced by the work of John B Watson (Watson, 1925). hi his mature theory, however, Maslow criticized both psychoanalysis and behaviorism for their lhnited views of humanity and their hiadequate understanding of the psychologically healthy person. Maslow believed that humans have a higher nature than either psychoanalysis or behaviorism would suggest; and he spent the latter years of his life trying to discover the nature of psychologically healthy individuals.
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