Week 11 – Abraham Maslow and Humanistic Psychology & Early Transpersonal Psychology & DSM-5 Cultural Competency

Those drawn to what became Humanistic Psychology, believed that a more complete theory of the personality ought to include the more positive aspects of human experience, continuing some of William James’ line of thinking. To do this, they believed the discipline should investigate the most psychologically healthy people, mature, well-integrated, creative individuals who reliably and sustainably displayed high-functioning behavior.

In Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needsbiological needs (hunger, thirst, sex, sleep, safety, etc.) must be met before psychological needs come into the ascendance of attention. Basic psychological needs include, among other things, friendship, love, and self-actualization. Needs higher in his hierarchy emerge from and build upon the needs below it. Deprivation of basic needs at each level can cause maladjustment and neuroses. The fulfillment of those needs is the critical in therapeutic treatment.

As people mature and meet their needs at a particular level, they eventually become frustrated by not having some satisfaction at the next level up, causing a “sand in the oyster” reaction, one has to utilize one’s capacities—catalyzing solutions and growth, to experience self-actualization, and later other “higher” transpersonal capacities to experience transcendence and self-realization. The more an individual is no longer dominated by their more basic needs, the more likely the self-actualization process is underway. Blockages to self-actualization arise from negative past experiences resulting in poor habits of mind and body and ego defenses that obscure contact with one’s inner self.  To become aware of these things and learn from them helps minimize the distortions that impedes growth. One example is what Maslow called the Jonah complex, the resistance to realizing one’s full capabilities rooted in core fears like psychologically or existentially disintegrating and/or losing control catalyzed by letting go of familiar patterns and experiences—a major obstacle to realizing self-actualization.

Self-actualizing people are dedicated to the mastery of tasks connected to causes and/or vocations that are connected to something greater than themselves. They work passionately and creatively, are courageous and spontaneous, having Maslow’s eight behaviors that lead to self-actualization: good concentration, making good growth and judgment choices, are self-aware, honest and dedicated to self-development, with few ego defenses, while cultivating peak experiences in some way. These people also have plateau experiences, fundamental changes in their attitudes that transforms their entire point of view, manifesting a general intensified awareness with a new appreciation of their lives and the world.

The “Four Forces” of psychology: psychoanalysis, behaviorism, humanistic psychology, and transpersonal psychology, correspond to his hierarchy model in terms of what they specialize in—so no approach is better than another, they all have their focus of expertise. Respectively, the former two concentrate on deficient psychologies, and the latter two, being psychologies, relating to deficiency cognitions, objects that are seen as need fulfillers, and being cognitions, perceptions less likely to be distorted by one’s wants and needs.


·  Understanding the distinctive contributions and values of Abraham Maslow and Humanistic & early Transpersonal Psychology & DSM-5 Cultural Competency on transpersonal psychology

·  Critically examine the foundations of Abraham Maslow and Humanistic & early Transpersonal Psychology & DSM-5 Cultural Competency and their implications for transpersonal psychology.

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