Self-actualisation is the fulfilment of one’s greatest potential.

Initially coined by Kurt Goldstein as the ‘motive’ for achieving one’s full potential, self actualisation has been seen as a basic human drive. Something that we all possess, and fulfil to greater or lesser extents.

Development of the idea

Perhaps the most well known use of the term ‘self actualisation’ is in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is a summary of the basic needs of human beings that must be fulfilled for our survival. While the hierarchy covers basic human needs such as shelter and nutrition, self actualisation is considered to be the most intellectual and hardest to achieve human need.

Another development of the idea is in the work of the psychotherapist Carl Rogers – in a slightly similar way to the central role of individuation in the theory of Carl Jung. Both Jung and Rogers have a very humanistic approach to psychotherapy, but differ in their approach to concepts such as the unconscious, which is prominent in Jung’s work.

Self actualisation, individuation and personhood

The Live, Love, Learn approach makes prominent use of the terms individuation and personhood, but rather passes by self actualisation. We very much see self actualisation as a component part of both individuation and personhood, but relish the additional elements that are involved in both those terms. For this reason, we focus on those ideas rather than self-actualisation itself.

References and further reading

Rogers, C. (1967) On Becoming A Person. London: Constable and Company Ltd.


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