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Blanchard, W.H. (1969). Psychodynamic Aspects of the Peak Experience. Psychoanal. Rev., 56A(1):87-112.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56A(1):87-112

Psychodynamic Aspects of the Peak Experience

William H. Blanchard, Ph.D.


In recent years there has been a gradual shift of interest in the field of psychology. We have become much more interested in healthy psychological functions than in neurosis. Along with this trend has come an increasing attention to creativity and the capacity for self-actualization. A product of this general interest in growth has been the discovery—actually the rediscovery—of the peak experience.

One of the pioneers in this new field of psychology is Professor Abraham Maslow, who has turned his attention to psychological health as opposed to psychopathology. His studies of self-actualization and creativity8-14 have expanded our view of the human potential. In his effort to broaden the horizon of possible human experience, Maslow has incorporated an increasingly greater variety of phenomena into a developing theory. In the process, his earlier idea of a “hierarchy of needs” has become an integral part of a newer psychology of growth. It is expected that, as a theory expands, there will be an attempt to explain a larger universe of data. However, it is also expected that there will be some “sticking points” or actual reversals, where the explanation does not seem to fit the data and the theory may have to be revised. I believe that the phenomenon of the peak experience represents such a point in Professor Maslow's13 theory (p. 76). In this paper I will take issue with three of Maslow's propositions in regard to the peak experience.

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