Abraham Maslow’s The Farther Reaches of Human Nature

Read: pp. 24 - 68, 270 - 286

First, some general ideas

Differences from Rogers ¾

-- Not as therapeutically oriented

-- More emphasis on motivation, also personality.

Like Rogers

-- a big emphasis on personal growth, conceived in terms of

Being & becoming

Most famous for ® Maslow’s HIERARCHY OF NEEDS


Another Big Idea - a basic way of viewing motivation, growth, etc.

B-needs vs. D-needs

B here stands for “Being” -- the need to fulfill one’s being by moving toward self-actualization. Also, growing and seeking out what’s fulfilling for its own sake, rather than as a way of meeting some deficiency in life -- a kind of “positive” motivation.

D here stands for “Deficiency” -- the need to address deficiencies. Also, being motivated by what’s missing in life -- a kind of “negative” motivation.

Maslow also makes similar distinctions in other areas of life:

B-values vs. D-values

B-cognitions vs. D-cognitions

For example, B-love vs. D-love

B-love would be about a kind of love motivated by desire for the fulfillment of one’s own and the other’s lives.

D-love would be about a kind of love motivated by need to address deficiencies in one’s life, such as feeling unloved, not feeling appreciated, not feeling sexually satisfied, etc.


Ch. 2 --“Neurosis as a Failure of Personal Growth”

Like Rogers ® “pathology” seen in terms of someone’s way of being - rather than in medical terms. Maslow tries to provide an alternative conception.

In general, humanistic psychology agitates against MEDICAL MODEL

conceptions of psychological disturbance (p. 24)

(although Maslow argues that his approach is not dichotomously opposed to the med. model - p.29)

Medical Model - DSM-IV American Psychiatric Association

Psychological suffering - seen as a kind of “disease” or “disorder,” (symptoms produced by antecedent causes ¾etiology). Point ® find the causes & treat them (via “therapy”).

Humanistic View

Most psychological suffering is intimately bound up with who you are -- so much so that it becomes problematic to distinguish between cause & effect. (where does the cause end and the effect begin?)

The point is to address the entire person and to seek change at that level. So, Maslow views pathology in terms of “Blockages to one’s full humanness.” (I.e., one‘s full potential as a psychological being).

Part of the problem with medical model:

It tend to be dehumanizing ® People seen more as batches of symptoms, test results, etc. (a kind of reduction).

In other words, it tends to passes over people’s deep and unique humanity ¾ what makes a person unique, valuable in the first place.

It tends to be too NORMALIZING ® In its preoccupation with disturbance & disease, the message is often ® “averageness is the best we can expect, and that therefore we should be content with it.”

It embodies the common wisdom of “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,”

Which is true for many things, but not so good for people.

Why? ® leads to stagnation, wasted possibility, wasted life.

In fact, for Maslow,

“From the point of view that I have outlined, normalcy would be rather the kind of sickness or crippling that we share with everybody else and therefore don’t notice” (p. 25)

Similarly, Krishnamurti says, “It’s no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.”

This view constitutes an inversion of some of the prevailing ideas about normality/abnormality vis-à-vis psychopathology (that psychological health should be defined by normality).

Another inversion of the usual perspective: (p. 33)

Maslow: “Neurosis is a hopeful thing. . . a kind of timid and ineffectual striving toward self-actualization, toward full humanness… Conflict itself is, of course, a sign of relative health as you would know if you ever met really apathetic people.” (p. 33)

So, in place of the medical model’s concept of psychopathology in terms of abnormality, lack of adaptation to society, and psychological conflict, Maslow posits a continuum:

Diminution of humanness «Full Humanness

Cognitive losses movement toward

Loss of pleasure, joy, ecstasy self-actualization

Loss of competence fulfillment of potential

Inability to relax

The weakening of will

Fear of responsibility

Question: What holds us up from fulfilling our potential and attaining full humanness?

The Jonah Complex (p. 34)

¾ an evasion of growth and fulfilling one’s best talents

¾ fear of one’s greatness

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” -- Nelson Mandella

¾ evasion of one’s destiny (like Jonah’s evasion of the destiny to prophesy the destruction of Ninevah).

We fear what we glimpse about ourselves in our highest moments (also in our lowest moments).

“Oh God! It is a fearful thing, to see the human soul take wing” - Bryon

It’s easy to be ambivalent about GREATNESS in ourselves and/or in others.

¾ exceptionally beautiful people

¾ great creators, geniuses

¾ lucky people, saintly people

So, we often try to diminish greatness in others (and even in ourselves, as in the “fear of success”).

What drives these Jonah Complexes?

-- fear of the sense of responsibility that often attends recognizing our own greatness, talents, potentials, etc.

-- fear that an extraordinary life would be out of the ordinary, and hence not acceptable to others (but what is the real value of such acceptance?)

For instance, fear of seeming arrogant, self-centered, etc.

Maslow ® Arrogance is always counterbalanced by a realistic perception of one’s human limitation - a kind of humility.

(e.g., Aldous Huxley on p. 38)

-- greatness often seems inherently dangerous ¾ maybe too powerful, too intense, too overwhelming (like looking into the sun).

The Jonah Complex is partly about fear of losing control, annihilation, disintegration (of course, surrendering to one’s own greatness does annihilate one’s previous way of being).

“Those who would shine must learn to endure burning.”

-- Viktor Frankl

Solving the Jonah complex involves ®

-- becoming aware of one’s counter-valuing as a step toward starting to enjoy others’ greatness, which can lead to hence becoming more comfortable with one’s own.

-- embracing the B-values (see pp. 128-129 for a list): Truth, goodness, beauty, wholeness dichotomy-transcendence, aliveness, uniqueness, perfection, completion, justice, simplicity, richness, effortlessness, playfulness, self-sufficiency.

Which also means not just denying our Jonah complexes (since they’re part of us too), but grasping our positive potentials in spite of our tendency to evade them.

Ch. 3 -- Self-actualizing and Beyond

A riddle ® what lies beyond self-actualization?

Self-actualization embodies a kind of selflessness

“Self-actualizing people are, without a single exception, involved in a cause outside their own skin” (p. 42)

I.e., a calling or vocation

Calling vs. Job

intrinsic reward extrinsic reward

beyond oneself one’s needs

Toward B-values Toward D-value

working for the work working for the weekend

So, the humanistic ideal (self-actualization) isn’t so much about “individuality” in the sense of being self-absorbed, isolated, disconnected from world.

Rather, it’s individuality in the sense of being both…

oneself, but also engaged and participating in the world, which includes


The world of other people (sociality)

“Behaviors leading to Self-actualization” (p. 43)

1. Experiencing fully, vividly, selflessly, with full concentration and total absorption. ¾ not self-consciously. “The Zone”

2. Self- actualization ¾ an ongoing process that arises out of ongoing choices in life. “to make the growth choice, rather than the fear-choice” (our individual choices do matter).

3. To listen to what our own inner voice tells us ¾ pay attention to it.

Rather that just deferring to others’ values ¾ what “they” think is good, etc.

4. Be honest with one’s self ¾ responsibility for one’s choices, abilities, attitudes, situation, etc.

5. Developing a sense for destiny, for mission

“making an honest statement involves daring to be different, unpopular, nonconformist. . . being prepared to be unpopular. . . To be courageous rather than afraid is another version of the same thing.”

6. Being open to the moment ¾

Open to the process of actualizing one’s potentialities at any time (such as now).

“It does not mean doing some far-out thing necessarily. . . Self- actualization means working to do well the thing that one wants to


Before enlightenment. . . Chopping wood, carrying water.

After enlightenment . . . Chopping wood, carrying water.

7. “Peak experiences” can’t just be willed,

But one can willfully set up more favorable conditions for them

¾ perhaps “metacounselors” can help do this.

8. Movement toward self-actualization

Tends to be somewhat painful ¾ involves “identifying defenses,” questioning what we’re invested in NOT questioning.

On the other hand, “. . .repression is not a good way of solving problems.”

Another important dynamic . . . Desacralization/Resacralization

Desacralization ® loss of the lived sense of the sacred

-- often a kind of defense mechanism.

-- being “COOL” -- not caring, not being passionate about life, staying safe in one’s cynicism

-- pervades many aspects of life

-- but, “self-actualization means giving up this defense mechanism and learning to resacralize.”

Resacralization ® regaining one’s sense for the sacred in life

“Resacralizing means being willing, once again, to see a person “under the aspect of eternity,” as Spinoza says. “being able to see the sacred, the eternal, the symbolic

“Self-actualization is not a matter of one great moment . . . Self- actualization is a matter of degree, or little accessions accumulated one by one.” (p. 49)

Summary of self-actualization, p. 49


Chapter 4: The Creative Attitude

Why this emphasis on creativity?

(not only in Maslow, but in humanistic Y generally)

-- it’s a marker of the “healthy, self-actualizing, fully human person”

-- psychotherapy is creative -- creating a new way of life

-- all developmental psychology involves creating new relations to self, others and world.

-- in fact, every moment you’re alive, you’re participating in the creative emergence of a unique, distinct moment in the cosmos…

In a way, you’re always participating in one way or another in the universe’s ongoing birth-process.

Your existence is already creative -- in its very nature.

-- so, creative moments are not trivial; they‘re close to our very being.

Maslow stresses education, and especially art education, because...

-- there’s a need for education to reach the core of who we are, rather

than just providing us with practical job-skills.

-- a mode of education that aims at being and becoming -- creativity at the level of our lives.

“. . . this requires a change in our attitude toward the human being, and toward his relationships to the world. To put it bluntly, we need a different kind of human being.” (p. 56)

-- humanistic education (like humanistic therapy) aims at change in our being -- not just our imparting cognitive abilities

-- the point is not to ignore facts, knowledge, thinking, cognition,

but not to be limited to them. ¾

PRIMARY CREATIVENESS ¾ The inspirational phase

¾ loss of exp. of past/future

¾ immersion in the moment (in the zone)

¾ tireless, selfless, fusion with the reality at hand.

¾ a kind of peak experience.

SECONDARY CREATIVENESS -- the hard work part

® development of the inspiration

Aspects of creative inspiration

1. Giving up the past, the tried & true, business as usual

-- in favor of the uniqueness of the moment.

2. Giving up the future, the project of being mostly for some end

-- instead, being in the moment

3. Innocence -- being not so constricted by pre-ordained “shoulds”

-- instead, a childlike wonder & radical amazement

4. Narrowing of Consciousness -- a lessened awareness of other people & their demands

-- instead, coming into one’s authentic self

5. Loss of ego: Self-forgetfulness, loss of self-consciousness

-- totally absorbed in non-self

-- one of the paths to finding one’s true identity

6. Inhibiting the Force of Consciousness (itself)

-- although self-awareness is necessary for secondary creativeness.

7. Fears Disappear

8. Lessening of defenses & inhibitions

9. Strength & courage

-- creativity requires COURAGE (R. May’s “The Courage to Create”)

-- to be temporarily rid of one’s small self in favor of being expansive

-- to be attracted, seduced by mystery, unknowing, by what isn’t here - but could be (I.e., possibility)

10. Acceptance: adopting a positive attitude

-- “apt to become more ‘positive’ and less negative . . . Giving up criticism”

-- receptivity

11. Trust vs. Trying, Controlling, Striving

-- trust . . . in self, in the world

-- enough to give up control & willfulness.

12. Taoistic Receptivity

-- reference to Taoism: The Tao = the way (to be alive)) -- non-interference, letting things/people be who they are

13. Integration of the B-cognizer

-- an act of the WHOLE PERSON - the Gestalt (form, pattern) of who he or she is.

-- not split, dissociated, compartmentalized.

14. Permission to dip into primary process

-- recovery of aspects of the unconscious, shadow, desire, the heart, soul -- not just the intellect.

15. Aesthetic Perceiving rather than abstracting

-- savoring, enjoying, appreciating, caring

-- seeking “greater richness of the percept” (can apply to thinking)

16. Fullest Spontaneity

-- “letting our capacities flow forth easily . . . without effort, without conscious volition or control.”

17. Fullest Expressiveness (of Uniqueness)

-- an honest and direct expression of one’s unique person.

18. Fusion of the Person with the World

-- Feeling oneself in intimate connection with world

Now, to skip to pp. 270-286: Theory Z

Main Theme: 2 kinds (or degrees) of Self-Actualizing People

Theory Y Theory Z

Little or no experiences people that do have

of transcendence, peak experiences or/and

peak experience, etc. PLATEAU EXPERIENCES

(“serene & contemplative

B-cognitions rather than

climactic ones”)


“Non-Peakers” “Peakers”

“Theory Y” “Theory Z”

“Merely Healthy” “Transcenders”


More “practical, realistic More “meta-motivated”

mundane, capable and

secular people”


More in the D-realm More in the B-realm


Eleanor Roosevelt, Truman, Aldous Huxley, Albert Schweitzer

Eisenhower Martin Buber, Albert Einstein.


Characteristics of Transcenders

1. Peak & Plateau experiences tend to be the most important thing in life.

2. Tend to speak in B-language much more easily and fluidly ¾

® the language of poets, mystics, seers, profoundly religious people.

3. Tend to perceive UNITIVELY OR SACRALLY

¾ the sacred within the mundane

4. B-experiences, B-values . . . (are) their most important motivations

-- more meta-motivated

5. Tend to be able to recognize each other

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers

For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”

Shakespeare, Henry V, act IV, scene iii

6. Tend to be more responsive to beauty.

-- more experiences of beauty, more intense

7. More holistic

-- tend to see mankind/the cosmos as one

8. (relatedly) . . . a tendency toward SYNERGY

-- transcending dichotomies, separations, either/or’s.

9. More & easier transcendence of the ego, the self.

10. More “awe-inspiring,” “unearthly,” “saintly”

11. More apt to be innovators, discoverers.

12. More prone to B-sadness, more open to the tragic

¾ “perhaps this is the price these people have to pay for their direct seeing of the beauty of the world”

13. More easily live simultaneously in B- and D- realms

14. More in touch with the correlation between

-- increasing knowledge and increasing mystery & awe.

15. Less afraid of “nuts” & “kooks”

-- tend to value creative, unconventional people.

(“the only ones for me are the mad ones. . .” Jack Kerouac)

16. Tend to be more ‘reconciled with evil’

-- recognize it inevitability - more compassion for it

-- also stand against it (paradoxically)

17. Likely to see themselves as the carriers or instruments of something greater.

-- hence, not self-powerful, self-important

18. More apt to be profoundly religious, spiritual

19. Strong selves, but also more likely to transcend their selves.

20. More open to childlike fascination, wonder.

21. More Taoistic ® less driven by doing, useful, practicality.

-- dwelling in beauty as a principle motivation in life.

22. More wholehearted love, rather than the usual mixture of love & hate.

23. More tuned in to “higher forms of pay

-- intrinsic motivation

-- less motivated by extrinsic factors - money, status, power, prestige.

Epilogue ® Maslow finds about equal proportions of transcenders among businesspeople, managers, teachers, etc., as among poets, intellectuals, musicians, etc. (who are supposed to be transcenders).

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