Abraham Maslow

Sean Russell

Education

Maslow attended the City College of New York after high school. In 1926 he began taking legal studies classes at night in addition to his undergraduate course load. He hated it and almost immediately dropped out. In 1927 he transferred to Cornell, but he left after just one semester due to poor grades and high costs. He later graduated from City College and went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin to study psychology.

School of Thought

Humanistic psychologists believe that every person has a strong desire to realize his or her full potential, to reach a level of "self-actualization ". The main point of that new movement, that reached its peak in 1960s, was to emphasize the positive potential of human beings. Maslow positioned his work as a vital complement to that of Freud:

"It is as if Freud supplied us the sick half of psychology and we must now fill it out with the healthy half"

Background Info

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Maslow was the oldest of seven children and was classed as "mentally unstable" by a psychologist. His parents were first generation Jewish immigrants from Russia who fled from Czarist persecution in the early 20th century. They had decided to live in New York City and in a multiethnic, working-class neighborhood. His parents were poor and not intellectually oriented, but they valued education. It was a tough time for Maslow, as he experienced anti-Semitism from his teachers and from other children around the neighborhood. He had various encounters with anti-Semitic gangs who would chase and throw rocks at him. Maslow and other young people at the time with his background were struggling to overcome such acts of racism and ethnic prejudice in the attempt to establish an idealistic world based on widespread education and monetary justice. The tension outside his home was also felt within it, he rarely got along with his mother, and eventually developed a strong revulsion to her.

Positive Psychology

Maslow called his work positive psychology. His work has enjoyed a revival of interest and influence among leaders of the positive psychology movement such as Martin Seligman. This movement focuses only on a higher human nature. Positive psychology spends its research looking at the positive side of things and how they go right rather than the pessimistic side.