There are many Self Actualization Definitions given by World top Psychologists and Writers.  Every single person has explained Self Actualization in his her own way.

 Are you completing a Self Actualization Assignment or preparing for a Self Actualization Presentation?

Are you writing a research paper on Self Actualization?

Whatever, you are doing the first step is to look for an appropriate way to explain the meaning of Self Actualization.

I am sure you are looking for Self Actualization Definitions.

The best way to define such a unique concept that galvanizes and motivates everyone.

If you keep reading definitions of Self Actualization, you will see different people explained this higher motivation drive in their own idisyncratic way.

One day, you will be able to define Self Actualization in your own way. It means that one day you will define Self Actualization in your own modus operandi.

Modus Operandi is a particular way or method of doing something.

I love new words and I will learn new words with you every single day.

Lets see how Self Actualization is defined over the courses of several years. Lets also see how famouse psychologist have defined Self Actualization


1.     Self Actualization Definition #1: by Kurt Goldstein

Self-actualization was coined by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein for the motive to realize one's full potential:

"the tendency to actualize itself as fully as possible is the basic drive ... the drive of self-actualization."

In his book, Kurt Goldstein (1939)  define Self Actualization in another way. He said


“state of tension....which enables and impels the organism to actualize itself in further activities, according to its nature” (p. 197).


The tendency to actualize is "the only drive by which the life of an organism is determined" (Goldstein, 1939, pp.196-197, cited in Brodley, 2001, pp. 87 -88).


2.  Self Actualization Definition #2: by Abraham Maslow

Maslow defined self-actualization to be

"self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.”


3.   Self Actualization Definition # 3: by Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist influenced by the work of Goldstein and Maslow, further distinguished the theory of actualization tendency.

Primarily based on the observed behaviors of organisms, Rogers (1959) enforced the assumption that actualizing is an inherent tendency for all organisms and stated:

“The inherent tendency of the organism to develop all its capacities in ways which serve to maintain or enhance the organism .... [The tendency involves] development toward autonomy and away from heteronomy, or control by external forces. (Rogers, 1959, p. 196, cited in Patterson & Joseph, 2007, p. 120,)


Carl Rogers described self-actualization in the following way

“the continuous lifelong process whereby an individual's self-concept is maintained and enhanced via reflection and the reinterpretation of various experiences which enable the individual to recover, change and develop” (Rogers, 1951).


Rogers defined Self Actualization in the following way

"the curative force in psychotherapy – man's tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities ... to express and activate all the capacities of the organism."


The Self Actualized Person is a Fully Functional Person according to Rogers

Rogers believed that every person could achieve their goal. This means that the person is in touch with the here and now, his or her subjective experiences and feelings, continually growing and changing.

In many ways, Rogers regarded the fully functioning person as an ideal and one that people do not ultimately achieve. It is wrong to think of this as an end or completion of life’s journey; rather it is a process of always becoming and changing.

Rogers identified five characteristics of the fully functioning person:

1. Open to experience: both positive and negative emotions accepted. Negative feelings are not denied, but worked through (rather than resorting to ego defense mechanisms).

2. Existential living: in touch with different experiences as they occur in life, avoiding prejudging and preconceptions. Being able to live and fully appreciate the present, not always looking back to the past or forward to the future (i.e., living for the moment).

3. Trust feelings: feeling, instincts, and gut-reactions are paid attention to and trusted. People’s own decisions are the right ones, and we should trust ourselves to make the right choices.

4. Creativity: creative thinking and risk-taking are features of a person’s life. A person does not play safe all the time. This involves the ability to adjust and change and seek new experiences.

5. Fulfilled life: a person is happy and satisfied with life, and always looking for new challenges and experiences.

For Rogers, fully functioning people are well adjusted, well balanced and interesting to know. Often such people are high achievers in society.

The theory of self-realization through Carl Jung's (1933) individuation process provides a foundation for discovering one's true unique self.


Critics claim that the fully functioning person is a product of Western culture. In other cultures, such as Eastern cultures, the achievement of the group is valued more highly than the achievement of any one person.


4.  Self Actualization Definition # 4: by Argyris

Argyris (1964) defined self-actualization in terms of

“...the full expression of the individual’s present potential and the striving to expand it” (p.32).


5.  Self Actualization Definition # 5: by Davis and Newstrom (1992)

"the fifth level needs are constituted by self-actualization, which means to become everything that one is capable of, using own abilities with plenitude and expanding own talents to the maximum".


6.  Self Actualization Definition # 6: by Brittanica

Self-actualization, in psychology, a concept regarding the process by which an individual reaches his or her full potential.


7.   Self Actualization Definition # 7: by Carl Jung

Becoming aware of one's whole and complete inner self is a critical and necessary aspect of self-actualization, as presented in Rogers's theory of congruency (1959).

Without the awareness of the self, individuals are not able to truly actualize their fullest potentialities (Geller, 1982).

 Carl Jung (1933) concept of individuation explains a process of self-realization, discovering one's meaning and purpose in life, and actualizing who one really is and capable of becoming (King & Nicol, 1999; Fordham, 1969; Schmidt, 2005)

Similar to Maslow's theory of self-actualization, individuation is "an active on-going process and not a static state" (Schmidt, 2005).

As cited in Schmidt (2005), Jung proclaimed: "Consciousness should defend its reason and protect itself, and the chaotic life of the unconscious should be given the chance of having its way too -as much of it as we can stand. This means open conflict and open collaboration at once." (Jung, 1961, p. 288, cited in Schmidt, 2005, p. 599)


Furthermore, according to Schmidt (2005), Jung viewed individuation and self-realization as differentiated from "Eastern mystical ideas of achieving Nirvana or Samadhi-a state of perfection attained by yogis" (Schmidt, 2005, p. 598). Self-realization is dependent on relationships with others. As cited in Schmidt (2005), Jung (1935) states: "The self is relatedness ... The self only exists in as much as you appear. Not that you are, but that you do the self. The self appears in your deeds and deeds always mean relationships." (Jung, 1935, p. 73, cited in Schmidt, 2005, p. 598


Through Jung' s theory of self-realization (through the process of individuation), a distinct understanding of human potential is captured.

Theory of self-realization brings more meaning to life for an individual through seeking a higher purpose and bringing one closer to a state of being a whole and complete individual. It is only when an individual is in a state ofbeing a whole and complete that he or she can fully actualize (Patterson & Joseph, 2007).


8.  Self Actualization Definition # 8: by Oxford Dictionary

“the realization or fulfilment of one's talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.


9.  Self Actualization Definition # 9: by Wikipedia

“Self-actualization, in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, is the highest level of psychological development, where personal potential is fully realized after basic bodily and ego needs have been fulfilled.”


10.                    Self Actualization Definition # 10: by Very Well Mind Website

“In psychology, self-actualization is achieved when you're able to reach your full potential. Being truly self-actualized is considered the exception rather than the rule since most people are working to meet more pressing needs.”


11.                       Self Actualization Definition # 11: by Shostrom

Shostrom gave his Synergy Theory to explain Self Actualization in Individuals

Everett Shostrom (1964) developed a Personal Orientation Inventory designed to measure an individual's level of self-actualization in relation to their level of psychological health.


As a result, Shostrom concluded that

“it is possible to differentiate between a self-actualizing person and normal, or non-self-actualizing, person. A self-actualizing person was thought to have freedom from social pressures and functioned as a self-supportive and autonomous individual.”

 Therefore, in the context of a work-environment, self-actualized individuals would be more self-directed and require less management or supervision in their work.

They would also display a high level of confidence in their abilities and are not burdened by the past or future, therefore living more fully in the present.

Shostrom (1964) also claimed that the self-actualized individual displayed synergy between self and others and had no distinction between work and play.

Therefore, a self-actualized person, aligned with an organization's vision and objectives, would have a true desire and passion towards the achievement of organizational goals rather than obtaining employment for purely economic gain.


12.                     Self Actualization Definition # 12: by Scott Barry Kaufman (SBK)

"that's what self-actualization is all about...finding your own style and making it work..."

Scott Barry Kaufman has written a few books about Self Actualization.

 He has also developed a lot of Psychological Tests. SBK made a 30-item CSAS (Characteristics of Self Actualization Scale).

 Grounded in Abraham Maslow’s original writings on the characteristics of self-actualizing people, the CSAS measures 10 facets of self-actualization: (1) Continued freshness of appreciation, (2) Acceptance, (3) Authenticity, (4) Equanimity, (5) Purpose, (6) Truth Seeking, (7) Humanitarianism, (8) Peak Experiences, (9) Good Moral intuition, and (10) Creative Spirit.

The scale consists of three facets:

·       Kantianism (treating people as ends unto themselves),

·       Humanism (valuing the dignity and worth of each individual), and

·       Faith in Humanity (believing in the fundamental goodness of humans). Scott Barry Kaufman also defined Self Actualization in the following way in a Q/A session on a blog

“We have these potentialities within us that we can feel deep inside and that would offer so much benefit to ourselves and to the world. Self-actualization is bringing those potential realities to as full expression as possible.”

The link to the blog is here Behavioral Scientist


13.                     Self Actualization Definition # 13: by GoodTherapy.com

Self-actualization is the final stage of development in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This stage occurs when a person is able to take full advantage of their talents while still being mindful of their limitations.

The term is also used colloquially to refer to an enlightened maturity characterized by the achievement of goals, acceptance of oneself, and an ability to self-assess in a realistic and positive way. Self-actualization can be explored in therapy.



14.                     Self Actualization Definition # 14: by Isa Débora Teixeira Machado

Isa Débora Teixeira Machado submitted a research project at NoVa Lisbon University. Her definition of Self Actualization is very very comprehensive. I really like it. Her research study is “Intangibles That Matter for HCM-Self Actualization-A Case Study of a Brazilian Company”


  “Self-actualization is both an on-going process and a product. The process consists in the expression and expansion of a talent or potential which is chosen by the individual who has critical reasoning and moral capacity.”

“The goal of self-actualization is, in a first phase, to “better the self” and in a second phase, to move from the self to the other and hold a sense of purpose and service towards social causes or activities so as to “better the world”. Self-actualization as a product consists in a state of eudaimonic well-being.”

“Self-actualization is a fundamental motivation towards growth that it exists in every individual, and awaits only the proper conditions to be released and expressed”


15.                     Self Actualization Definition # 15: by SimplyPsychology Website

Self-actualization (also referred to as self-realization or self-cultivation) can be described as the complete realization of one's potential as manifest in peak experiences which involve the full development of one's abilities and appreciation for life (Maslow, 1962).


16.                     Self Actualization Definition # 16: by Cambridge Dictionary

a person's desire to use all their abilities to achieve and be everything that they possibly can. The expression is used by Maslow in his theory of human motivation

To sum up, self-actualization has 74 years since its first appearance in the literature and so far has been described and interpreted in various ways.

Are you ready to orchestrate your own definition for Self Actualization.

The way you define Self Actualization will actually help you a lot on your Self Actualization Journey.

You can share it in the comments section below and I will inform you about my method of defining self actualization. Soon. Very Soon!

Happy Self Actualizing Everyone,

Psychologist Ash

 17.                     Self Actualization Definition # 17: By Psychologist Ash



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