Autonomy in terms of Maslow’ s Hierarchy of Needs and the Individuation theory

As described in J.R. Sumerlin’s and C.M. Bundrick’s work the Brief index of self-actualization: A measure of Maslow’s model. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality (1996) achieving autonomy is also associated with aging of ones personality; according to Maslow this characterizes a mature self-aware personality. He believes that only this type of fully realized human being uses his/hers full emotional potential. Maslow introduced his famous hierarchy of needs in 1943. The hierarchy of needs has a shape of a pyramid. At its base are the physiological needs the next step is represended by the need for safety and security, followed by the need for love, acceptance, fellowship, next is the need for recognition, respect and the highest one is the for self-realization. People according to this heirarchy fulfill their needs from the bottom up – the top ones however, are only fulfilled when the lower ones are saturated, satisfied. In fulfilling these needs the principle of functional autonomy occurs, this principle lies in the fact that if one have already achieved a higher level of need, it becomes autonomus, independent of meeting the lower needs of the pyramid.





Margaret Mahler in her Separation-Individuation Theory and Attachment Theory (2004) similarly as J. Bowlby Attachment and Loss (1969) examined separation and attachment. Unlike Bowlby’s this theory is more in line with the classical psychoanalytic theory. The concept of separation and individualization is rather a complement to the traditional psychoanalytic theory than a turning point, as it only completes theories of libido. Mahler strongly emphasizes the importance of locomotion within the process of separational individualization. For example, thanks to the progressive development of a child’s walking – exploring the area, chuild is preparing for intrapsychic separation, individualization, identity and autonomy.


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