Self-Actualization and Depression
Self-actualization in an individual who is still in the university cannot follow the Maslow’s hierarchy due to some reasons. As Kriz (2006) observes, Maslow’s hierarchy follows the order of an individual satisfying the basic needs first before reaching self-actualization. Self-actualization to a university student is brought mostly by need to acquire high self-esteem. In such a case, self-actualization is realized when the individual is respected and recognized by his peers. In the event that this does not happen, the student eventually feels depressed. When the feeling to have self-esteem emerges, individuals tend to develop a feeling that they are suffering from deficiency and they start self-actualizing. In the process of trying to fill the gap, a student can very easily get depressed.
Sassoon (2008) in his book Self Actualization: Theory and Technology deduces that, students in the university level should strive to maximize their ability and know the path they want to take in life. However, for the simple fact that actualization release potential; has sparked a big problem to most students in the university. The thought that through self-actualization is the only way they can receive recognition causes depression among students. According to Valet (2004), self-actualization is that urge of wanting to become all that one wants and is capable. This is mostly the case with students when they are in the university. While struggling to discover their full potential, students can end up creating a crisis that can bring depression or psychological problems (Helgoe, 2002).
According to Maslow (2003), an individual can undergo two phases while trying to reach self-actualization. The first phase that a learner in the university level must pass through is the cognitive needs. Students in this phase strive to acquire knowledge and desire to understand the world that surrounds them. When this might sound as simple, it is important to know that it is a very depressing stage (Bieling & Antony, 2003). In most cases, one has many questions as to whether they are in the right environment and the perception that people in the society have towards them. The attempt to understand one’s environment can lead to depression especially in a case where the university student has developed negative feelings (Kvalsund, 2003). After satisfying the cognitive level, an individual reaches self-actualization.
However, another lurking danger that may cause depression is when an individual develops high positive hopes that might appear strange (Bieling & Antony, 2003). According to Helgoe’s book: Hierarchy of recovery: from abstinence to self-actualization, depression may set in when an individual has confused self-image with self-actualizing. This issue has sparked debate for a long time. To differentiate between these two states of mind is a challenge and may lead to stress. In most cases, university students and adolescents might find themselves in this problem (Kriz, 2006). The age at which most people experience self-actualization is between 40-60 years, most students are between the ages of 17-25, raising questions whether it is indeed possible to realize self-actualization at that age (Kvalsund, 2003).
According to a study that was carried out in 2009, it was revealed that most individuals reach self-actualization at the age of 46 years. However, most individuals who are depressed by self-actualization are men with only a small percentage of women. Depression that affects men emanates from pressure put on them by their peers who have reached the same stage. The situation is even worse if the children have matured and they are still working. Valet (2004) deduces that the realization by men that they are getting old at the age of 46 may hinder self-actualization from occurring (Bieling & Antony, 2003). Depression at this stage in life may even quicken the aging process. The search for unclearly undefined target can cause depression in the process of self-actualizing. In some situations, regrets of not accomplishing some set targets may set in, making the situation even badly. For students who are still in the university, the humiliation by colleagues can lead to depression and eventual abuse of drugs (Bieling & Antony, 2003). Although self-actualization can rarely occur to adolescents and students in the university, unnecessary pressure can cause depression if not well managed. The self-actualization process is
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