On a Selfish Mother

Abe didn’t get along with his mom at all. His earliest memories were of how cold, distant, and uncaring she was towards her son.

He spoke about how much she loved only herself–not her husband, kids, or family at all. Abe would later say that she was one of the most self-centered people he would know in his life. She was racist, lazy, a filthy housekeeper, and an inept cook. Instead of feeling a sense of belonging in his family, Abe began to seek fulfillment and happiness in self-improvement. He grew up believing that if he made himself strong, physically, that it would satisfy the needs he had for self-appreciation and self-love. He worked out at the gym regularly to make himself feel better. He certainly never got those needs from his home.

The other place Abe found fulfillment was in academics. He loved libraries. At his high school in New York, Abe joined academic clubs and became president of several of them. He edited the school Latin newsletter as well as the physics magazine. He began to feel more comfortable in academia than in the gym.

Abe eventually got an undergraduate degree from City College of New York and then completed a graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin. He studied psychology, specifically behavioral sciences, perhaps as a way to help him come to terms with the situation he experienced in his home growing up. Again, he concentrated on how people felt about the basic things they needed in life because he felt strongly that he often lacked those things for so much of his life. It was during this time that he married a first cousin, Bertha, and the couple had two children by the time World War 2 broke out.

After his masters degree, Abe returned home to New York to attend Columbia and continue his research. He eventually became a professor and researcher first at Brooklyn College and then at Brandeis University in his hometown. Again, his life experiences heavily influenced how he viewed the human mind. He called his approach to psychology Humanistic Psychology. In a sense, Abe theorized that Freud showed what was wrong with humans, while he wanted to concentrate on the things that humans should have to become happy. Abe was the first to take those basic things that all humans must have–and the more elevated things–and classify them into levels. He published his theory in 1943.

And it all started with a mother who never met the basic needs of her son.

Her son would classify them into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.