July 28, 2006

Maslow was quickly co-opted by new age

will said...Bobsir, I'm not all that psychology well-read, but I do recall reading snippets of A. Maslow and his "peak experience" and "peak individual" observations. One of his descriptive profiles of the peak individual was so similar (albeit lacking in mystical wording per se) to that of a spiritual adept that I really was stunned by his insight. I was also favorably impressed by Maslow's idea that there should be a psychology that does, in fact, use the peak individual as a a template rather than that of your garden variety neurotic. And that's about as much as I know about Maslow. In what respect does he fall into your "utter nonsense" category? FWIW, I did know how loopy Laing was. And what ever happened to Arthur "primal scream" Janov? Reincarnated as Yoko Ono? really curious in chicago 2:55 PM
Gagdad Bob said...Will--You are correct. I suppose it's unfair to blame the teacher for the disciples. I believe that Maslow started off on the right track, but he was very quickly co-opted by the new age, and in fact, is now considered one of its pioneers. I don't think he would have been happy about it if he could have seen the shamelessly fraudulent "personal growth" industry that now exists. At the time, Maslow's ideas seemed liberating and progressive, a sort of necessary corrective to old-fashioned orthodox or classical psychoanalysis, which had, to a certain extent, lost its way prior to certain developments in the 1970's. I don't believe the "third force" psychology which he founded has really gone anywhere, because it's not rooted in a solid developmental model, and personal growth is going to be stymied unless one somehow deals with the good old unconscious. Of course, it's tempting to chase after peak experiences, but the idea is to transform altered states into altered traits, otherwise it can be somewhat like running away from one's problems. Plus, I like the idea of trying to see the transcendent in the mundane, as opposed to trying to have isolated peak experiences. 3:15 PM
Gagdad Bob said...Come to think of it, I just removed Maslow from the list of offenders altogether. There are literally thouands of better examples of the point I was trying to make, which is simply that a lot of psychological theorists in the 1960's and 1970's not only excused but actively promoted narcissism. Nor do I mean to necessarily imply that these were bad people--certainly Maslow was not by any means. On the other hand, someone like Timothy Leary apppears to have been an outright sociopathic narcissist. 3:41 PM

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