Beyond Self Actualization


In a great post [ here ] Will Samson describes how the dominant psychological metaphor for our culture, as set out in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, needs pushing further. Maslow’s system is very much based around the needs of the individual, and Will has done some thinking about how, once the individual ‘self’ is actualized, we need to go beyond into ‘group actualization’ (where we discover who we are in terms of the group we are a part of) and finally into ‘contextual actualization’ (where we discover where our group fits into the wider living system of our community, locality, nation…)

I think this connects nicely with the previous post, which set out some ideas for how churches might use tools like Belbin, Myers-Briggs etc. to bring their members to a better self-awareness, and thus to a more rich and full involvement in the life of the Body, rather than just ‘child of God who has to sit and warm a pew til I die. Or learn to play guitar.’

On a different tangent, the last I heard of Maslow was in connection to the disaster in New Orleans: how to help individuals who have lost everything to re-gain some kind of actualization, once their physiological and safety needs had been met. If what Will is saying is correct, the city will only really on the road to recovery once people can begin to move beyond those things and begin to think about re-actualizing their groups, and re-establish the boundaries and contexts of the groups they are a part of. This destruction of psychological, rather than just physical, communities – with people dispersed over such a wide area, may be the more painful aspect of the disaster… and more tricky to get aid to sort out.


One response to “Beyond Self Actualization”

  1. Jono Stott

    As an interesting extension to this, you might want to explore Martin Seligman’s work. Whilst I’m not a great fan of the title or some of the way the material is presented (so called “Positive Psychology” and “Authentic Happiness”), I think some of the stuff he has to say about ‘going beyond Maslow’, the place of personal values and the need to be a part of something bigger than the self, is interesting and fits in nicely with comments here and on Samson’s blog.