If I’m not mistaken, though Maslow could speculate about a top tier “self-actualization” and see it in certain people, he never succeeded in being able to bring it about except through the ‘already occurring’ theoretical observation of certain individuals.
I have never read any critique of his theory, but it is a popular psychological base. I do like the idea that we should not formulate the human psyche upon negative examples such as those with disease and issues.
If we consider that the lower strata are fulfilled automatically, then we might understand that the theoretical extension is non sequitur. People are drawn toward nourishment and shelter/security; not all people are drawn toward self fulfillment. Fulfillment appears are a kind of intellectualization that is applied to the human category after the fact, imposed upon the category as a view may function as a catalyst to see. Perhaps we might even understand that the lower strata without the theoretical extension toward self-actualization yields an idea of humanity that is distasteful for most people. Like, somehow, if we do not include this extension, if we do not include what it operates upon ideals such as faith, hope and transcendence, then humanity as we know it does exist. And, maybe what we see in the downturn of a society or civilization (at least our current one) could be the implicit yet unacknowledged truth of the human animal. Hence, epidemic proportions of drug use and addiction, depression, anxiety, stress, etc…
Yet, then if we also do not exclude our proposal here, we might see that this is merely how the human animal operates; that is must posit transcendence and hope even through the slow revealing of its fantastic ideal.
Maybe it is not the “self-actualization” that is the need, but merely the ideal that there is such a possibility: the religious ‘saviour’ is what is needed. Maybe, it is not the ‘being saved’ that we need, but only the idea that we need to be saved.