Monday, July 29, 2013

Abraham Maslow -- "Psychic drabness beneath a pert exterior"

Here's an excerpt from an interesting article on Abraham Maslow ("hierarchy of needs") from the Fall 2011 edition of The New Atlantis:
In May 1945, tired of “fussing along for some years,” Maslow began in dogged earnest his formal investigation of optimum functioning, and started a GHB (Good Human Being) notebook. At first he thought that students would be the primary subjects of his study. Observing them in class, checking their emotional security evaluations, interviewing them, reading their memoranda of the interview, and conducting Rorschach tests were the basic procedures. Maslow encountered problems straightaway, by his own judgment. Among the prospects he picked many more girls than boys, and most of the girls he picked were good-looking; nasty, smug specimens often scored high on security; nearly every candidate pulled a pretty twisted Rorschach; whether American twenty-year-olds could even be GHBs was a problematic question. Most of his students, especially the women, disappointed him, with their psychic drabness beneath a pert exterior. “Their faces look so much more promising than they actually are. They’re all well enough adjusted, happy, psychiatrically untroubled, etc., but still they have no flame, spark, plan, excitement, goal dedication, feeling of responsibility.” He despised some of the kids for their numbing blandness: being well-adjusted to a stifling culture was often evidence of deep-rooted sickness of soul.

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