Abraham Maslow defines self-actualization to be “the desire for 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.” Maslow used the term self-actualization to describe a desire, not a driving force, that could lead to realizing one’s capabilities. Maslow did not feel that self-actualization determined one’s life; rather, he felt that it gave the individual a desire, or motivation to achieve budding ambitions.
A more explicit definition of self-actualization according to Maslow is “intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately of what is the organism itself…self-actualization is growth-motivated rather than deficiency-motivated.” This explanation emphasizes the fact that self-actualization cannot normally be reached until other lower order necessities are satisfied. In Maslow’s opinion, ‘self-actualisation…rarely happens…certainly in less than 1% of the adult population’. The fact that ‘most of us function most of the time on a level lower than that of self-actualization he called the psychopathology of normality’.