(My paper titled MASLOW’S MOTIVATION THEORY AND INDIAN PSYCHOLOGY FOR ACHIEVING HUMAN EXCELLENCE for presentation at the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology Conference, at Dept. of Psychology, Jnana Bharati, Bangalore University, May 6-8, 2016)
Monday, April 18, 2016
INDIAN PSYCHOLOGY FOR ACHIEVING HUMAN EXCELLENCE
The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, and can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". And “realizing one’s own potential” is what Goldstein has called “self-actualization” in The Organism (1934): “The organism has definite potentialities, and because it has them it has the need to actualize or realize them. The fulfillment of these needs represents the self-actualization of the organism.” Self-actualization is also referred to as “self-realization”, and Maslow calls it “self-fulfillment”. As such, Human Excellence lies in achieving self-actualization, or ensuring mental health.
In his 1943 paper, A Theory of Human Motivation, Abraham Maslow outlined the specific basic needs – namely the physiological needs and the psychosocial needs – that ought to be fulfilled in order to achieve self-actualization. Maslow’s paper tells us that motivation occurs for the fulfillment, or gratification, of the basic needs. When our basic needs remain unfulfilled, or get thwarted, we get stressed. And Maslow tells us that the thwarting of the basic needs produces sickness and psychopathological results. In order to avoid stress and psychopathologies, it is important that we learn the way to gratify the basic needs. However, gratifying the basic needs is difficult because we are generally not aware of these needs. But Maslow tells us that, “What we have called the basic needs are very often largely unconscious although they may, with suitable techniques, and with sophisticated people become conscious.”
Maslow’s motivation theory paper begins by telling us that the “physiological needs are the most prepotent (powerful) of all needs”, and asks us to take into account the concept of homeostasis in order to fulfill the physiological needs. This paper examines the homeostasis process of the body to show the essential nutrients that are needed, and the toxins we need to avoid, for fulfilling our physiological needs.
The 1939 book, Alcoholics Anonymous, had given us a simple psychodynamic need-gratification technique that helps us to become conscious of the basic psychosocial needs and to gratify them. This technique has been helping thousands of members of Alcoholics Anonymous to overcome their addiction problems, and has also been used by other self-help groups to deal with various other psychopathologies. This paper explains this simple need-gratification technique, for gratifying our psychosocial needs.
The need for self-actualization is our need for acquiring and systematizing the knowledge necessary for fulfilling all the basic needs. Sankhya Yoga, also called Vipassana meditation, is the ancient Indian Psychology path for achieving self-realization, and also for acquiring the knowledge needed for self-fulfillment. Aristotle’s classic, De Anima, gives us a naturalistic explanation of this ancient Indian Psychology, and his Nicomachean Ethics shows us how it can be used for developing Human Excellence. This paper examines Aristotle’s treatises and uses the principles of physiology for understanding Indian Psychology, and also outlines the simple method for practicing Sankhya Yoga.