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Self-actualization is a term that means to have an understanding of one's self. Theorist Kurt Goldstein coined the term self-actualization. According to him, the term meant that a person comes to an understanding of their full capability and potential. Some examples of self-actualization are:
- A person's need to be creative
- To seek after spiritual growth
- A desire to give to others and society
- To seek knowledge
Self-actualization is a concept that is used in several different psychology theories. The most famous of these being Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
Maslow and Self-Actualization
Maslow's hierarchy is represented as a pyramid because it represents linear growth taking place. According to Maslow, people must pass through the different levels of the hierarchy in order to become self-actualizing individuals. According to Maslow, the first step in becoming a self-actualizing individual is taking care of physical needs first. These needs include the need to sleep, eat, and breath. The second step is that people need to feel safe. Next, it is important for individuals to feel like they belong or are loved. In the fourth level, individuals have to have or build their self-esteem. They need to either have or learn to have positive views and feelings of who they are. Finally, individuals need to feel like they are needed. Once individuals have moved through all the stages, they are deemed self-actualized individuals.
Self-Actualization and Carl Rogers
The theory by Carl Rogers also includes the concept of self-actualization. In Rogers' theory, a person become fully functional when they are able to bring together their "ideal self" and their "real self."
Mahatma Gandhi is an individual who can be viewed as an example of self-actualization. Even with his life being threatened, Gandhi used civil disobedience to bring about change.
Self-actualized individuals are characterized by their creativity. Art can help bring about a greater sense of psychological well-being in both the artist and the audience.