Self actualization is at the pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which examines the order by which human actions are geared towards. According to Maslow, in order to have the other needs, the basic needs have to be satisfied first . Only upon satisfying the physiological needs are the other needs considered. As such, the graduation in level suggests that self-actualization is the most difficult level to attain because of the preconditions that need to be satisfied in order to advance. According to Maslow, this is the most difficult to achieve due to its nature.
It is not an absolute fact but is relative and therefore difficult to attain. The teachings of Maslow have shown that due to the relative nature of self actualization it is possible that a person may have achieved this but has not realized such and is therefore incapable of self actualization. In order to be self actualized, Maslow stated that there is a need for inner exploration and action. Man needs to realize his internal self and come to terms with such. It is this motivation which leads a person to self-actualization.
This is problematic on several levels which explains why Freud had a different perspective on the matter. While Maslow derived his theory from Freud, Freud’s teaching was different in that these innate impulses are caused by the developments in the human psyche and the subconscious. There is no innate mechanism but rather the logical effect of the interactions of the different personalities and parts of the human mind. The motivation comes not from the desire for self-actualization but from human behavior.
From a cognitive point of view, this hierarchy of needs and self actualization is a function of the perturbations that an autonomous system needs. It is not so much self actualization, from this perspective, as it is the perceived competence to satisfy the basic needs in due time. There are, therefore, three main components, material, cognitive and subjective. As such, self actualization is hampered by subjective incompetence which is caused during childhood that act as an inhibitor preventing the further development of cognitive competence.