Hanley and Abell also draw on an existential concept of creative fidelity to further highlight the importance of relatedness on the path to personal optimal functioning. These are relationships in which “… both parties experience ultimate growth via their commitment to each other” (Marcel, 1964, cited in Hanley & Abell, 2002, p43) and can thus be redefined in such a way that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts (Kurokawa, 1996, cited in Hanley & Abell, 2002). This is an idea only vaguely touched upon in Maslow’s theory through peak experiences at the point of actualisation.

The notion of creative fidelity is supported by Friedman’s argument that actualisation is “… a by-product of non-instrumental dialogue and meeting between persons” (Friedman, 1967, 1984, cited in Garrison, 2001). It can also be juxtaposed with Rowan’s concept of a bidirectional hierarchical trend where marriage partners who redefine themselves in terms of their commitment to one another, experience abundance motivation on the ascent of the hierarchy, whereas those in a state of “constancy”, where there is more a sense of duty than true relatedness (Hanley ; Abell, 2002), experience deficiency motivation on the descent.

Furthermore, Hanley and Abell argue that relationships with other people are not sufficient for self-actualisation. They also view interaction with the natural world as important; an idea in conflict with Maslow’s theory, which proposes a transcendence of the environment. They draw on the philosophy of symbiosis where human existence is placed within the context of the environment created by the individual, and of which a bidirectional affect for both human and environment ensues (Kurokawa, 1996, cited in Hanley & Abell, 2002).

This kind of relatedness could also be applied to Rowan’s notion of ascent and descent of Maslow’s hierarchy, since how we affect and are affected by our environment could be reflected in the direction we move toward in our development. Hanley and Abell thus attempt to recontextualise humans within the world by utilising the above areas of relatedness, in order to propose a “more accommodating modification of Maslow’s’ Hierarchy” (Hanley & Abell, 2002, p38).

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They also suggest that Roger’s work in psychotherapeutic practice [where relatedness is seen as necessary] supports such a shift in emphasis (Rogers, 1980, cited in Hanley ; Abell, 2002). However, there are some limitations of Hanley and Abell’s interpersonal model. For instance, individuals do not always have control over the more global social and environmental contexts in which they operate (Smail, 1994); therefore relations with the natural world may not be as straightforward as Hanley and Abell propose.

Furthermore, like Rowan’s model, the emphasis of individual choice in relation to an individual’s interaction with the environment and within the framework of creative fidelity can be viewed as placing ultimate responsibility with the individual. More generally, both articles neglect discussion of the potential for suffering which is also a part of human existence in which people can find meaning (Frankl, 1984).

Moreover, an existence that is complex, unpredictable, and constantly changing over time, requires methods of investigation that are sensitive to capturing such lived experiences (Rathunde, 2001), an issue which both articles fail to address. Finally, distinct differences between Eastern and Western cultures in how the self is viewed in connection with others, calls into question the validity of such Western models of self-actualisation (Markus & Cross, 1990, cited in Pervin and John, 1997). Indeed, Garrison, (2002) even suggests a need for clarification of the conception of what it is to be human.

In conclusion, both articles offer some deeper understanding of Maslow’s theory of human development. Rowan’s minor criticisms highlight the rigidity of Maslow’s hierarchical model in terms of processing by addressing the neglect of human experience not dependent on deficiency motivation, and Hanley and Abell recommend a shift to a more accommodating interpersonal model. Nevertheless, we should still be mindful of socio-economic, cultural and methodological issues when applying such models to human development.


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