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Who was Abraham Maslow?

Born in 1908, Abraham Maslow always strove for academic success, pushed by his uneducated Jewish parents wh0 wanted him to live a better life than they were given the opportunity to lead. Fulfilling the wishes of his guardians, he attended the City College of New York to study law, before meeting his wife, Bertha - the woman who bore him two children. From here, everything took a dramatic swing; he left law behind to study the subject of his dreams: psychology. What happened from here onwards shaped the future of the human view on needs and self-actualization, and changed psychology forever.

It was at the University of Wisconsin that Abraham Maslow began to study psychology, being merited with a BA in his chosen subject, and then achieving a PhD. He ended up teaching at Brooklyn College, and it was here that he met several well known Freudian and Gestalt psychologists.

Chair of the Brandeis Psychology Department between 1951 and 1969, Maslow began to concentrate on his own form of humanistic psychology, whilst meeting the man who established self-actualization in his book, The Organism - Kurt Goldstein.

During his elaborate career, the one move that defined Maslow's career was creating his Hierarchy of Needs. He began theorizing, and after some time, established in his own mind that humans need some things more than others. For example, the human race prioritize food and water over things which bring us pleasure, like relationships and occupations. Although we regard them as important for our personal happiness, we must admit that we can still live without them, whereas food and water are both necessities for life.

Using these ideas as the basis of his philosophy, Maslow produced a mechanism to display the order of human needs, typically represented as a pyramid-shaped diagram. At the base of the pyramid are our physiological needs - the things we need in order to stay alive. As we progress up the pyramid, we reach needs that we can live without, but require in order to live a life of happiness and mental wellbeing.

At the very top of the pyramid are the things that we need to achieve in order to class ourselves as people who have fulfilled our desires in this life, individuals who know what and who we are. This is known as self-actualization. It takes to time to build up to this point, so all of the other levels of the pyramid - of which there are four - must be addressed before we take the satisfaction from the fifth. This involves issues such as having a steady, reliable job; having solid relationships with friends and family; and being given attention from the rest of society, thus feeling a strong sense of belonging to a wider community.

After making the Hierarchy of Needs, the career of Abraham Maslow became considerably more subdued - he had achieved something great, something that would linger in the minds of humans for centuries to come. After retiring in California for several years, Maslow passed away in 1970 following ill health and a subsequent heart attack. His legacy still lives on.

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