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Maslow and Jung: Life and the Workplace Essay

We work, strive, succeed, and sometimes we fail. What drives us to succeed, or in some cases keeps us from success? Perhaps a better understanding of our motives, and the motives of our colleagues would help us make the personality changes we need to succeed. The way we interact with others in the workplace and our personal life may be improved. The Freudian theories opened our minds to many of our odd behaviors but did little to provide methods of self-examination. Very few of us have the time and the funds available for in-depth psychoanalysis.

The theories of Carl Jung and Abraham Maslow are interesting and, in certain respects, opposing. With study, introspection, and a better awareness of others, aspects of the theories of Jung and Maslow can be used by most individuals to improve their working and personal relationships. Carl Jung was a younger colleague of Sigmund Freud but he made the exploration of “inner space” his life’s work. Jung and Freud began to go their separate ways in 1909 even though Freud had once considered Jung his heir apparent, the “crown prince of psychoanalysis” (Boeree, 2006 Pg 3 ¶3). Jung had an extensive knowledge of mythology, religion, and philosophy.

He was especially knowledgeable in the symbolism of complex mystical traditions: Gnosticism, Alchemy, Kabala, Hinduism, and Buddhism. He had a capacity for lucid dreaming and occasional visions (Boeree, 2006). Jung divided the psyche into three parts: ego, personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. The ego and personal unconscious are very much like Freud’s understanding of the psyche; the collective unconscious was added to Freud’s theories and stands out from all others. This part of the psyche represents our experiences as a species, a knowledge with which we are born (Boeree, 2006).

Jung spent a great deal of time in self-examination. Much of his theory is based on this introspection and a source of criticism from several of his colleagues. Jung carefully recorded his dreams, fantasies, and visions; he felt if we could recapture our mythologies, our ghosts, we could understand these ghosts and heal our mental illnesses (Boeree, 2006). Jung’s sense of personal examination and commonality of the unconscious may allow us all to heal and live better, more fulfilling lives. Abraham Maslow’s belief in Humanistic Psychology and his Hierarchy of Needs can be, and has been, applied in the workplace outside of psychology.

A pyramid, with Physiological Needs at its base, represents the Hierarchy (Boeree, 2006). The Hierarchy’s five stages: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and Self-actualization explain many of the motivations within the workplace. One example is the rather obvious puzzle of why employees are only temporarily satisfied by a raise in salary. Inevitably, most employees are satisfied when first receiving the bump up in pay. However, just as inevitably, shortly thereafter the same employee expects another raise; he has become dissatisfied.

Even when the raises in pay are forthcoming in intervals that are acceptable, the employee still seems to become dissatisfied. Maslow believed that we are driven to understand and accept ourselves as fully as possible, and are motivated to satisfy ever-increasing levels of motivation. Once the basic need of enough money to provide a basic standard of living is met, the employee is still driven to satisfy higher needs. These higher needs may include a sense of personal achievement (Heffner, 2002). Maslow felt that no one would ever reach the top of his hierarchy but should realistically try only to get as close as possible.

Through our continued journey in life, meeting problems and issues, we can either grow or slip backward. We can choose to learn and continue climbing or give up. Most people choose to continue their climb. With some, this choice is not an actual conscious decision. The choice is more of a drive to succeed or a cycle of happiness and depression that we have trouble understanding. As a supervisor or manager, our ability to understand the constant cycle of satisfaction and dissatisfaction may mean the difference between a successful career and failure.

If in a career or business the only answer to dissatisfaction is monetary, excessive cost to the company can be easily caused and still have unhappy employees and a high turnover rate. Conclusion Carl Jung’s introspection and self-examination have led us to the realization that childhood traumas are not the only sources of behavior and personality characteristics. Our continued learning from our experiences, our differentiation, gives us a life-long ability to make corrections.

Abraham Maslow’s understanding of our motivation and constant striving for satisfaction has brought the person back into Psychology and given renewed attention to the truly human qualities that make up us all. Understanding the motivation and satisfaction needs of colleagues, our family members, and ourselves provides avenues of action that were previously only sources of frustration. Taking heed of both schools of psychological thought, the Neo-Freudian Carl Jung and the Humanistic Psychology of Abraham Maslow, may be our best path for understanding our own behavior and motives and those of our colleagues and family.

References Boeree, C. (2006). Abraham Maslow 1908-1970. Retrieved Jan. 22, 2006, from Personality Theories Web site: http://www. ship. edu/~cgboeree/maslow. html. Boeree, C. (2006). Carl Jung 1875 -1961. Retrieved Jan. 22, 2006, from Personality Theories Web site: http://www. ship. edu/%7Ecgboeree/jung. html. Heffner, C. (2002). Personality synopsis. Retrieved Jan. 22, 2006, from AllpsychON LINE, The Virtual Psychology Classroom Web site: http://allpsych. com/personalitysynopsis/index. html.


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