Toward a Psychology of Being Summary & Review

Author: Abraham H. Maslow

Toward a Psychology of Being (1962) is based on the research and hypothesis of Abraham H. Maslow about the human condition, psychology, desires, and well-being. Instead of terming mental conditions as sick or healthy Maslow uses introduces self-actualization.
toward a psychology of being

Detailed Summary of Toward a Psychology of Being

Toward a Psychology of Being explains positive psychology long before the term even existed. According to the author, humans’ innate nature is not evil, and therefore it should not be suppressed.

If a person ignores their innate abilities, they are forced to act upon them. When we meet our needs of food, shelter air we move on to forming connections.

After getting ourselves acquainted with people, we move on to forming a self of respect and freedom for ourselves. After we have achieved these levels to some extent, we move on to becoming self-actualized people. Someone who can experience relationships to the fullest and can have peak experiences.

Toward a Psychology of Being Summary Key Points

Our mental health should be our first priority. The more we concern and take care of our mental health the more we become self-assistant and actualization. In this book, the author shares the theory of motivation and self-actualization.

He claims that psychology is directly linked with human well-being and health. Health is the core center of spending a happy life. Moreover, he argues that people must focus on self-actualization. Which means to find purpose or meaning in life and strive to achieve it. The following key points will peak you through the valuable information Maslow has discovered.

You might also like to read My Age of Anxiety Summary.

Humans’ Innate Nature can be Studied

Unlike other behaviorists at that time, Maslow believed that human nature can be scientifically studied. At his time people only studied psychology in terms of referring to people as healthy or sick.

But Maslow argued that every human has an innate need to self-actualize. Human nature is not intense, wild, or bad. It is inherently good and that is why acting on it should be encouraged. For example, if it is in your nature to be a baker and you negate it just because you want to pursue a more money-making field.

Your nature wants you to express it. You get excited about a mission or goal because your nature wants you to chase it, that goal is related to your nature; hence the excitement. This concept of studying the traits, habits, and choices of healthy, self-actualizing people is today known as positive psychology.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow describes human needs through the five-tier model, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

  • Physiological (Food and clothing)
  • Safety (job security, Housing)
  • Love and belonging needs (friendship, community, relationships)
  • Esteem
  • Self-actualization.

A person must fulfill the need at the top and then move down. Self-actualization is placed at the last step after we have taken care of our food, air, sleep, shelter, apparel, health friends, family, connections, respect, freedom, and esteem.

Deficient Needs and Growth

Ever wondered why some people have weaker bones as they grow up? Some people have abandonment issues and accept abusive partners. The reason? Their needs were not met. Sometimes physical and sometimes psychological.

According to Maslow, you cannot grow as a person and work on yourself before you fulfill these needs. Give yourself time to rest, a proper diet, and freedom to make your decisions. Take care of your relationships, form genuine connections, and make yourself feel secure through a proper job and shelter. When you work on making these needs met according to the best of your ability you will move on to the next stage.

Such deficiencies can also act as motivators. The longer you ignore fulfilling a deficiency the more this motivation increases. For example, the longer you try staying without food and water; the more motivated you will become to satisfy your hunger and thirst.

Peak Experiences and Cognition of Being or B-cognition

Peak experiences are the moments that move us. Getting completely lost in a melody, feeling moved by a book, getting lost in a scenic view, or enjoying a piece of art. Self-actualization makes people feel more, appreciate more, and criticize less.

When you get lost in things you do not characterize them or put them into boxes. You become open to possibilities, different angles, and different views.

This is why people who self-actualize tend to judge less. They are more creative and they explore different views on arts, life, and any other situation. A painting no longer remains a few strokes of the brush.

It is a ghost of the past, a self-explanatory part of history, and an enigma of the future. Self-actualization will lead you to see things in a better way and experience things with full intensity.

Self-Actualized People Experience Relationships in a better way

Let us talk about two types of attachments. I like person A because she is gorgeous, gives me gifts, and goes on vacations with me. Now consider another type of attachment; I like person B. Why? Because she is genuine and nice.

In this second case, I am treating person B as an End and not as means. She is not a source of money, attachment, or materials for me. She is just a person who is an outstanding individual whose company I enjoy.

Also, she may go away from me, part ways, or break the bond and it would not affect me because I am not using her as a source. This is how a person whose needs have been met and who has self-actualized would treat their relationship. With this grown perspective they are able to maintain healthy relationships with their friends, family, and spouse.

Toward a Psychology of Being Quotes

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

Abraham Maslow

“Most people experience both tragedy and joy in varying proportions. Any philosophy which leaves out either cannot be considered to be comprehensive.”

Abraham Maslow

Toward a Psychology of Being Review

Toward a Psychology of Being is a book about human needs, behaviors, and needs. It will teach you a lot about a positive mindset, growing as a person, healing past trauma, and finding ways to meet your needs.

To Whom I Would Recommend Toward a Psychology of Being Summary

  • To the twenty-four-year-old who wants to heal his childhood traumas.
  • To the psychology nerd who wants to know more about the origins of self-actualization.
  • And to anyone who is having a hard time trying to understand themselves.