Major Movements in Psychology

Humanistic Theories

What did Maslow mean by peak experiences?

A peak experience occurs in a state of total awareness and concentration, in which the world is understood as a unified, integrated whole where all is connected and no one part is more important than another. This is an awe-filled and ecstatic experience, which is frequently described in religious or mystical terms. It is not simply a rose-colored distortion of life, however, where all evil and tragedy is denied. Rather it is a moment of full comprehension, where good and evil are fully accepted as a part of a complete whole. Like William James and Carl Jung before him, Maslow believed the mystical and ecstatic aspects of religion were proper subjects of psychological study.


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