Abraham Maslow was born on April 1, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the eldest son among the seven children. His uneducated parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia.
He was smart but shy, and he remembered his childhood as being lonely and rather unhappy.Of his childhood, Maslow later wrote, "During all my first twenty years (I was) depressed, terribly unhappy, lonely, isolated, (and) self-rejected".He has summed it up : "With my childhood, it's a wonder I'm not psychotic. I was the little Jewish boy in the non-Jewish neighborhood. It was a little like being the first Negro enrolled in the all-white school. I was isolated and unhappy. I grew up in libraries and among books, without friends."As a teenager, he fell in love with his first cousin Bertha Goodman and later at twenty, married her.
He first studied Law at the City College of New York to satisfy his parents' wish. After three semesters, he transferred to Cornell, and then back to the City College. His father hoped that he would pursue Law, but he went to Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin to study psychology. He became interested in psychology, and his college work began. At Wisconsin dramatically found as his chief mentor Professor Harry Harlow, who is famous for his experiments with the baby Rhesus monkeys, investigating primate dominance behavior and sexuality. He made further research at Columbia University, in similar studies. He also found another mentor in Alfred Adler, who was one of Freud's early followers.He received his B.A. in 1930, M.A. next year, and Ph.D in 1934, all of them from the University of Wisconsin. Maslow wrote : "Both my mother and father were uneducated. My father wanted me to be a lawyer. I tried law school for two weeks. Then I came home to my poor father one night: and told him I couldn't be a lawyer"."Well, son", he said, "What do you want to be?" I told him I wanted to study everything. He was uneducated and couldn't understand my passion for learning, but he was a nice man".Maslow's love of learning, combined with his tremendous raw intelligence, made him a brilliant student. Even if brought up in cramped conditions, sensible self-searching and higher education eventually improved his life.
The Turning Point
He rejected his father's plans for him to opt for law, and he joined music and drama. After transferring to the University of Wisconsin in the year 1928, he took up psychology as a subject. There he majored in Psychology.And he received solid training in experimental research from some well-known, experimental Psychologists. At that time at University of Wisconsin, a primate researcher, Harry Harlow, became his major professor. Harlow not only taught him but also inspired helped him to get jobs, such things often help.