A new book has been published called 30 Second Psychology. It’s been written by some familiar folks and aims to capture fifty of the most important theories of psychology in one punchy package.
The book covers everything from psychotherapy to cognitive neuroscience and, as normal, the others have done a much better job than me. Thankfully, though, I have been edited into sense.
Here’s part of my entry on Abraham Maslow’s humanistic psychology and how it inspired client-centred counselling, nude psychotherapy and love-ins.
Abraham Maslow trained as a hard-nosed experimental psychologist who became disillusioned with defining human nature through lab experiments and was dissatisfied with the Freudian alternative. Instead of seeing humans as the passive recipients of experience or slaves to unconscious drives, Maslow saw us as motivated by an ultimate need to become fulfilled and ‘self-actualized’ where we are at peace with ourselves and others and have the psychological freedom “to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” Humanistic psychology grew from this inspiration and placed subjective lived experience, rather than the unconscious mind, at the centre of human nature.
These ideas were taken up by psychotherapists, most notably by Carl Rogers, who based ‘client-centred therapy’ on the principles of genuineness and acceptance of a person’s basic worth. Although Maslow was sometimes uncomfortable with how his approach was adopted by the 1960s counter-culture, leading to everything from love-ins to nude psychotherapy, his central themes of respect for individual autonomy and the encouragement of personal development are now at the core of all most modern psychological treatments and his ‘hierarchy of needs’ is still considered a important theory of human motivation.