The New Atlantis has an in-depth biographical article on psychologist Abraham Maslow – one of the founders of humanistic psychology and famous for his ‘hierarchy of needs’.
Maslow is stereotypically associated with a kind of fluffy ‘love yourself’ psychology although the man himself was quite a skeptic of the mumbo jumbo that got associated with his work.
The association is not so much because of Maslow’s focus on self-actualization, a goal where we use our psychological potential to its fullest, but because of his association with the ‘human potential movement’ and the Esalen Institute.
Esalen had some quite laudable goals but ended up being a hot tub of flaky hippy therapies. If you want an idea of what we’re talking about, you perhaps won’t be surprised to learn that nude psychotherapy movement that we covered previously on Mind Hacks originated from the same place.
Maslow quickly got pissed off with half-baked people that he attracted and but sadly the stereotype stuck.
The man himself was far more complex, however, as was his remarkably profound work, and The New Atlantis article does a great job of bringing out the depth of his life and ideas. Recommended.
Link to article ‘Abraham Maslow and the All-American Self’.
6 thoughts on “The peak experiences of Abraham Maslow”
Esalen also gave us quantum cryptography, according to this book:
Skeptical review here:
I was about to point out your “New Atlantis” typo in the last paragraph. Then I read the article and realised that it’s the “New Atlantic” in the first paragraph that’s the typo.
Thanks for the article, either way!
Now fixed. Thanks!
I’m guessing “half-baked people” is a spelling error 🙂
I have to completely agree with this blog post. I am currently enrolled in psychology and am learning a little about Maslow. I must say that I do agree with his theory of motiviation and the overall humanistic perspective as a matter of fact. Personally for me, the people I surround myself with such as family and friends have a big impact on my life and their opinions shape my opinion of myself. Maslow was dead on with his ideas about making personal choices in order to be the best one can be.
I am a mainstream psychologist . . . and you’ve got it wrong about Esalen. Maybe at one point it seemed destined to end up “being a hot tub of flaky hippy therapies.” But thankfully the story did not end there. Much has happened in the last two decades or so . . . Esalen is vital and thriving, with only vestigial remains of hippy-dippyism.