Broadening the Path to Self-Actualization through Systematic Changes to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Stephen, Julia
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In the field of humanistic psychology, self-actualization is the highest component of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs because it involves the realization of one’s potentialities. The feeling of contentment that stems from fulfilling this need is unparalleled to any other accomplishment throughout one’s life. However, the structure of Maslow’s limiting hierarchy does not allow many individuals to attain this state of bliss. In this thesis, I propose a new structure that appropriately prioritizes self-esteem and provides the framework for developing healthy relationships. Aristotle’s theory of friendship and self-love in Nicomachean Ethics supports my claims against Maslow’s limiting hierarchy. Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory also corroborate the critique by providing more information on the development of self-esteem. The goal of my new structure is to realign the hierarchy with the purpose of humanistic psychology and make self-actualization more feasible by providing flexibility within the system.