PART THREE: Maslow’s Theorem-The Great Society (Poverty in the USA)


PART THREE: Maslow’s Theorem-The Great Society (Poverty in the USA) (by: Paul Goree-work in progress 2014)

In Maslow’s work, TOWARD A PSYCHOLOGY OF BEING (1962), Maslow provides the concepts upon which a perspective of human societal illness and health merge to provided insight into constraints of social mobility. Maslow list 9 factors:

1.) We each have an essential biological based inner nature
2.) Each person’s inner nature is in part unique to himself
3.) It’s possible to study this inner nature scientifically
4.) The inner nature is not intrinsically evil-it is neutral or positive good
5.) Based on #4, it is best to seek behavior that encourage rather than suppress
6.) If the essential core of a person is suppress, it will seek subtle ways of
7.) The inner nature is not strong and overpowering. It is weak and easily overcome by
habit, cultural pressure and wrong attitudes
8.) Even though weak, it rarely disappears-it persist for actualization
9.) These conclusion must be articulated with the necessity of discipline-they are desirable experiences

From these 9 factors, Maslow concludes that the study of healthy people (physically and mentally) is a model by which self-fulfilling development can be obtained. The possibilities of this development is based upon the essences of the inner nature as it expresses itself “freely”, rather than suppressed. This individual status has a collective result on the entire society. Each of us is a portion of the collective and create through our individual nature, a macro unconscious. Maslow stated, “…every crime against one’s own nature, every evil act…records itself in our unconscious and makes us despise ourselves…” An individuals despising themselves, project upon society an illness, that effects the concept of collectives worth.

From Karen Horney, Maslow develop the notion that collective worth is recorded in the individuals unconscious. Horney uses the term “register” to explain the process by which the individual injures their inner nature. Horney stated, “If we do something we are ashamed of, it “registers” to our discredit and if we do something…good, it registers to our credit. The net result ultimately are either one or the other-either we respect and accept ourselves or we despise ourselves and feel contemptible, worthless and unlovable…” It thus becomes a duty of the collective to attend to this worthlessness, felt by the individual. This duty improves the lives of us and others.

We must be concerned at all times about the kind of individuals, the world creates. Seeming the inner nature seeks to actualize itself, it benefits society to collectively assist in this process. Maslow suggested that sick people (mentally and physically) are made ill and healthy by culture. “…sick individuals make their culture more sick and healthy individuals make their culture more healthy. Improving health is one approach to making a better world…” To improve a healthy society, we should look towards personal growth development strategies.

The extend an individual attempts to satisfy the physiological aspects of Maslow’s lower level, can become a factor by which unhealthy mental and physical conditions can develop. Stress is a main contributor to unhealthy conditions, by which chronic stress can cause heart problems, mental problems and eventually death if unattended. The worthiness an individual experiences, also has potential effects on the effort exerted. The importance of this effort within a competitive environment, also creates stress, leading to an sick individual.. This worthlessness has some limiting affects on the over all effort an individual is capable or willing to exert. In her work So You Think I Drive A Cadillac. Karen Seccombe provides qualitative and quantitative data that suggest some in need of social welfare are unwilling or hesitant to apply for it due to the stigma associated with public assistance. Many of the case studies Seccombe detail, are in Maslow’s lower level of hierarchical need. The ideal of dis-empowering themselves due to societal stigma is a backwards step for a Great Society. By which a concept of “unconditional effort” should replace the false stigma associated with personal growth development. Unconditional effort, refers to rewarding and acknowledging, all and any effort an individual puts towards self development.

The ideal of effort is directly linked to compensation in a Capitalistic society. In Alfred Adler work, Adler studied gifted personalities and universalized the concept of compensation into basic law of human nature. According to the Adlerian Theory, “challenges of illness, birth defects, poverty, or other toward circumstance in youth provide the stimulus for all higher achievement.” This has a negative factor on the collective, as it bases self achievement competitively. Whereas in an “idyllic” society, “unconditional effort” embraces and rewards all levels of effort exerted. In a Great Society, the opportunity to encourage one another is a means of reducing the collective sickness.

Maslow’s hierarchical levels are not exclusive to adults. In Greshman Sykkes and David Matza’s work, the unattended physiological needs spill over into the decision making process of delinquents. This spillage becomes a factor that effects the over all society as crime rates rise and the notions of self worth and growth erode. Sykes and Matza argued that delinquents do not have conventional values. Conventional society demands a civic expectation (not steal, covet, kill, etc) of co-existences. However these youth inhabit a sub-culture where the values are not supported. These delinquents develope guilt and shame, as they attempt to exist within an environment that sometimes requires violations of the social norm. They justify their behavior through rationalizing, which neutralizes their potential guilt, before the law is broken. Sykes and Matza termed this process, “techniques of neutralization”, which focused upon:

1.) Denial of responsibility
2.) Denial of injury
3.) Denial of the victim
4.) Condemnation of the condemner

All of these factors lead to a collective societal illness, which hampers the validity of a Great Society. Recently actions were taken by investment brokerage – Goldman Sach, to help the city of Boston reduce crime and recidivism among, first time offenders. Goldman Sachs executives analyzed the circumstances of criminal activity and determined that they could effectively administrate Boston’s crime, resulting in a lower recidivism and empowered prior “criminals”, who then would be integrated successfully into society. This integration attends to the physiological needs that Maslow details. Goldman Sach, invested in a non-profit organization ROCA, whose objective for the past 26 years has been to transition young male criminals from the streets to the “legitimate economy”. Actions such as this, contribute to curing the sickness of society, regarding delinquency and criminal activity.

Sometimes the sickness of society is one that is a direct financial burden. Consider the financial stress placed upon parents and grammar school students unable to attend, a civic class/social studies/American government class, field trip to Washington D.C. In a Great Society, education of the youth is the end result of our future. At no extent should cost be cut or opportunities be limited. Especially due to economic disadvantages. It seems unjust to stratify grammar students with economical variances. It also seems unjust to place that financial burden upon the parent (s). Under most conditions, families at the lower level of Maslow’s hierarchical diagram, are below the poverty level. In some instance, public grants are available in some states for those that meet income requirements. However, a greater portions of the families at the lower level, are working families at the poverty level or slightly above. The poverty line in the United State 2013 was $15, 510 for a family of 2 and $23, 550 for a family of 4 (HHS, 2013).

As I continue to analyze Maslow’s Hierarchical Theory of Needs, I will focus on the cost expenditure of social programs that attempt to lead our nation to a Great Society. I will continue to analyze Social Democracy in the United States, as it may have varying effects upon our economic system.


Deprez, E. Esme.(2014).Goldman Sachs Bets on Reducing Crime. Businessweek. Retrieved from

Hillman, James.(1996). The Soul Code. Grand Central Publishing. NYNY

Maslow, Abraham.(2012). Toward A Psychology of Being. Start Publishing LLC

Seccombe, Karen.(2011). So You Think I Drive A Cadillac. Allyn and Bacon. NYNY

UNM.(2010). Neutralization Theory: Gresham Sykes and David Matza. Retrieved from


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