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Although popularized by Abraham Maslow, the concept of “self-actualization” was originally introduced by Kurt Goldstein, a physician specializing in neuroanatomy and psychiatry in the early half of the 20th century. As conceived by Goldstein, self-actualization is the ultimate goal of all organisms. It is the process of an organism fulfilling all of its capacities to become what it is biologically intended to be. Goldstein saw all behaviors and drives as manifestations of this overarching motivation.

Maslow defined self-actualization more narrowly and diverged from Goldstein in his conception of when and how self-actualization can emerge as a motivator. Similar to Goldstein, Maslow sees self-actualization as the fulfillment of one's greatest potential. In his discussions of self-actualization, however, he is referring solely to people, rather than all ...

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