A Look at Abraham Maslow’s Philosophies and Usage


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This paper is going to discuss the origin of the self-actualization theory, how Abraham Maslow came up with the theory and the applicability of the theory in real life situation. The paper will also include the personal background of Maslow and the view of other researchers in regard to the theory. The format of the paper will include an introductory page, the body and a conclusion.

The important points to summarize in this paper are that personality is largely determined by the past experience of a person and that people with the personality of focusing on the problem rather than themselves are called Self-actualizers. Self-actualizers have other many characteristics such as they are highly creative.

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Other researcher such Ford (2012) as support the theory while others such as Geller (2010) oppose the ideas brought by the theory.


Personality entails different traits observed in different people. These traits range from behavioral patterns, emotion and cognition. Different people have different abilities in terms of feeling and thinking. As humans, personality is what defines us. Personality is a very crucial factor in determining how an individual can succeed in his/her endeavors. According to theorists such as Abraham Maslow, personality is composed of five big aspects commonly known as the big five. These factors include; emotionality, extroversion, conscience of an individual, the ability to agree (agreeableness) and openness to experiences (Frick, 2013). These factors are what determine the personality of an individual. In this paper, we shall discuss the five basic needs that people require at different stages of their lifetime often referred to as the hierarchy of needs by Abraham Maslow. We shall also look into details the characteristics of a self-actualized person and his/her personality traits.

Abraham Maslow’s Demographic Information

Abraham Harold Maslow was an American citizen born in 1908 in Brooklyn, New York (Frick, 2013). He is well renowned for creating “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” Theory where he explained how the fulfillment of individual needs can be used to describe the self-actualization of that particular person. He was a male and a father before his untimely death on the 8th of June, 1970. Mr. Maslow was also of Jewish origin and was once classified as a ‘mentally unstable’ person by a psychological doctor. He was brought in poor background but his love of reading made him to settle in the middle class after he was employed in his late 20s.

Maslow’s parents were of Jewish origin but were brought up in Russia and then moved to the United States before bearing Abraham Maslow and his other six Siblings. Maslow was the eldest among the seven children that were in their family. During his youth, Maslow developed a strong hatred towards his mother for her prejudice to black people in their neighborhood. This was because of the racial discrimination and prejudice that he was getting from his fellow peers at school and in the neighborhood who were of American origin. He started seeing the negative traits in his mother criticizing her likes and dislikes. The hatred towards her mother grew into revulsion between them. Eventually, he became more and more detached to his family until he went to college (Frick, 2013).

In spite of the unsupportive environment filled with racial discrimination, Maslow still developed a strong positive attitude towards the reading culture. Although his parents were not rich enough to take him to a good school, Maslow still tried his best in his studies at the local primary school that he attended. In 1926, Maslow was enrolled to City college of New York where he dropped out after a year due to his hatred for night classes. In 1927, he transferred to Cornell College but was expelled due to poor grades. He returned to City College where he completed his education and graduated. After graduation, he then began classes at the University of Wisconsin where he studied psychology. At Wisconsin, his master’s research in behaviorism led to him discovering a positive mind towards his life. Later, he joined the University of Columbia for further studies where he met one of his mentors Alfred Adler.

Personality of Abraham Maslow

The theory of Self-actualization best explains the personality of the theorist Abraham Maslow. According to the theory, the hierarchy of needs and the ability to achieve those needs are what determine the self-actualization of an individual. What a person values the most is a simple way of determining the personality of an individual. The origin of the theory was based by what a person view life to be. The difference in the meaning of life to different people was what led to the discovery of the theory.


The theory has some terminologies associated with it as follows.

Self-actualization – this is the property of a person to value the important details of life such as the value of peace and human kind.

A Self-actualized person – this is a person who possesses self-actualization traits.

A non self-actualized person – this refers to person who does not possess any self-actualization traits.

The object – this refers to the doer or artist that is being reviewed implying the person himself. The artist

The subject – this refers to the other people around the object. I.e the audience.

Freewill and determinism – this is the concept of where the object’s actions are out of freewill that is done in conscious and unconscious state of mind of the object or artist.

Dichotomy – the system of weighing the traits of the self-actualization of a person.

The major concepts of the theory are that personality determines the behavior of an individual. Moreover, personality plays a very crucial role in the realization of self-actualization in an individual. That is, people with the personality of valuing others and valuing what is important to their lives and the lives of others are called self-actualized people. These self-actualized people are very important in the betterment of the condition of living in the society. However, t is important to note that personal experiences play a key role in the realization of self-actualization.

Other researchers have agreed to the characteristics of self-actualized people. For instances, Ford (2012) argues that these traits as discussed above are what define self-actualized people. He adds that, without these traits, one can never be perceived as valuing others and mankind in general. On the other hand, other researchers such as Geller (2010) have opposed Maslow’s work asserting that a person may have these traits and yet he/she may not value life. He argues that the meaning of life cannot be weighed by the traits provided by Maslow only.

Maslow’s Personal experiences

Abraham Maslow as stated earlier was brought up in a very rough environment where he was surrounded with people with racial prejudice. Most of the people he interacted with had a piece of racial discrimination in their hearts starting from the students at school to his mother at home. As a result, he developed hatred towards them and this hatred grew in him to become a hateful person. This is evident where he dropped out of City College due to his hatred towards night classes. Also, his love for education and reading culture led to him being knowledgeable person and this can be supported by the fact that he was employed as a magazine editor after he completed his college education. His hatred towards his mother meant that he could not get that innate love that he required while he was growing up. As a result, he married while he was still in college so that he could get that love that he desired and needed in his life.

Based on his experiences, Maslow formulated the theory of personality after he looked at his personality and reflected back his personal experiences in life. He believed that e was who was because of what he had been though and that people are what they are because of their past experiences.

Research and Assessment

The main concepts of the theory of self-actualization and the theory of the hierarchy of needs can be measured using several ways. First, a self-actualized person can be measured using the self-actualization traits. Some of these characteristics according to Maslow include; the ability of self-actualizers to create humor in unusual circumstances, they have a high level of creativity; they are focused on the problem and not themselves, strong morals among other traits. If an individual possesses these traits, he/she can be referred to as a self-actualized person. To add on, in accessing the self-actualization of an individual, there are other things that are considered such as the hierarchy of needs of an individual. For instance, if an individual values peace and harmony more than money and other material possession, then that person can be said to be a self-actualized person. Thus, the hierarchy of needs and the characteristics/personality of an individual are very imperative in the determination of self-actualization in an individual.

Theory application

In this context, I would use my person experience to explain the attributes of my personality applying the theory of personality. I am very quiet and cool person with low-self esteem. Due to my quietness, I am a very secretive person and an introvert as well. I am also very shy and cannot express myself very well in front of a large crowd. Lastly, I like to read and learn and a very hardworking person in my studies.

From my personal experiences, I was brought up in a very brutal environment. My father, who was a drunkard and a very abusive person used to insult my mother in front of me and my siblings. As a result, I used to sit alone a think of why I was ever born. Due to the heaviness pain in my heart, I was a very quiet person always contemplating on the family problems back at home. This led to the development of a quiet person with a hot temper inside me. In addition, my low self-esteem can be attributed to the fact that no one at home was there to congratulate me when I did something good. Whenever I passed my exams, I would show me grades to my parents but their reaction was so puzzling to me. They usually looked at the bad grades and starting cursing me out. Due to that, I lacked the crucial appreciation while growing up leading to me seeing myself as an under-achiever with no value in life. Consequently, my low self-esteem led to me being very shy in front of other people. I saw no value to myself and I lacked the courage to stand in front of a crowd. My love for education was brought about by the humble background that I was brought up in. I desired what other children were bought by their parents but since my parents could not afford them for me, I started working hard at school that my children would not miss the things I missed I while I was growing up. As a result, the culture of reading became part of me and that is why I am an avid reader up to date.

However, this theory does not fully explain the attributes of the personality of a person. For instance, I am a very peaceful person yet I was brought up in a very brutal home. According to the theory, I am supposed to be brutal and violent due to my past experiences yet am not.


To sum up, the theory of personality can be very applicable in the explanation of a person’s personality and character. As discussed above, the theory of personality explained the personality of Abraham Maslow based on his past experiences. Also, the self-actualization of an individual was based on his personality and past experiences. Thus, it is true to conclude that self-actualization is based on the personal experiences of a person.

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