Can you compare and contrast Maslow and Freud's theories?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the similarities between both theorists is that they present a blueprint or configuration of what humans need to be happy.  Both of them understand that happiness and contentment are both contingent on the fulfillment of several conditions.  For Freud, this lies in understanding human psychology and the factors that impact why we do what we do.  For Maslow, this is fulfillment of the hierarchy of needs.  It is at this point where some interesting contrasts emerge, as well.  For Maslow, the hierarchy is shown to be a rather linear progression.  One starts at the bottom and progresses up.  This helps to bring out a very controlled and almost "recipe- like" formula for actualization.  It is fairly direct in accomplishing, in that the next level of the hierarchy is contingent on the previous ones being accomplished.  Freud depicts consciousness in a different and more challenging light.  For Freud, there is no directed end towards his theories.  Consciousness and understanding the role of the subconsciousness is something that can happen at any time during existence.  Unlike Maslow, there is not a directed outline towards fulfillment.  The subconsciousness is without an end destination.  Rather, Freud's development of psychotherapy helped to drive home the point that individuals can only hope to understand the subconsciousness and not control it because it lies beyond a certain degree of rational control.  This lack of power is something that is not seen in Maslow's thinking.