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

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Freud and Maslow were two vastly different psychologists with virtually opposite views of human nature and its capacities. Freud developed his psychodynamic theory based on his experiences with just a handful of patients in a counseling environment, in which he viewed human psychological development as a progression through a series of psychosexual stages. According to Freud, human beings are driven through an interaction with psychosexual forces that begin with nursing and oral stimulation, and then progress to anal, phallic, latent, and genital development. Freud believed that any trauma incurred during these early stages of development resulted in conflicts that manifested as psychological disorders as adults. Freud also believed that human personality was determined by a balance between three arbitrary constructs: the id, ego, and superego.

Conversely, Maslow viewed human development and motivation not as an issue of psychosexual development and avoidance of conflict, but rather as...

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Maslow's theories are based in Humanistic Psychology. His theories are all about the actualization of the self, hence his famous Pyramid of Needs model. Maslow believed that certain needs must be met, such as food and shelter, before a person could begin to focus on relationships. Healthy relationships had to be met before a person could then go on to self actualization.

Freud was not as worried about self actualization. His purposes in studying Psychology were much more about understanding why people are the way they are. He used concepts such as id, ego, and superego to explain the human mind. The id was all about the mind's feelings, ego is considered one's consciousness, and the superego is certain rules and morals that society has ingrained in one's mind from a young age.

Both theorists believed that humans had certain needs that had to be met. However, Maslow believed there was a set hierarchy, whereas Freud would argue that all of our needs can never be met by the Id, our our instincts and feelings.

vrch2018 | Student

Both Maslow and Freud were influential thinkers in their time, and both sought to understand human motivation and suffering, though they used very different methods. Freud theorized that human suffering came from deep inner conflicts stemming from early childhood experiences of a child individuating from their parents and forming their own sense of self by navigating these conflicts. Freud also believed that there were inner forces or "drives" that motivated human behavior, the "sex drive" or "Eros," and the death drive, or "Thanatos." Freud believed these forces drove humans to act or behave in certain ways to keep these drives in balance. Freud also posited that these drives could manifest in ways outside of rational control, for example, as subconscious actions that a person could engage in without realizing it.

Maslow, on the other hand, came from a more humanistic perspective within psychology, and posed that humans have an inner drive to strive toward "self-actualization." In Maslow's theory, he believed humans were basically good and, if they had the necessary conditions to survive (safety, food, shelter, social support, and intact self-regard) that they could strive to become the best version of themselves possible, by realizing their full human potential.

So, while both studied human motivation for doing just about anything, Freud focused on the inner conflicts driving humans to act in certain ways, while Maslow acknowledged that there were external, basic needs that drove motivation. Freud tended to study individuals who were suffering from mental conflicts, while Maslow studied individuals who flourished.