The radical potentials of human experience: Maslow, Leary, and the prehistory of qualitative inquiry.

Abraham Maslow and Timothy Leary are 2 of the most well-known American psychologists from the mid-20th century. Less well-known, however, is their pioneering methodological work. In this article we explicate their transgressive research, their epistemological visions, and their struggles to enact a more existential, historical, relational, participatory, and experientially focused human science. Using their personal documents, as well as published and unpublished works, we weave their stories to create an assemblage of these unknown, unacknowledged, or forgotten histories. We try to show that, for both Maslow and Leary, the phenomena and questions they sought to understand drove them from the prevailing modernist ethos and toward new ways of thinking and working. In the process, they fashioned methods for, and visions of, science that have striking echoes in the contemporary qualitative traditions–experimenting with unquantified stories and texts as data, with iterative interpretive methods, with participatory research relationships, and with existential and postmodern philosophies of science. Of course, these bold forays into the unsanctioned forward edge of psychological inquiry were disciplined in different ways–expulsion for Leary and assimilation for Maslow, erasure for both–and this also is instructive for us. The experiences of these influential scholars reveal how the challenges and potentials of the use of personal documents in research were (and are) embedded in a broader struggle over the scientific and political value of human experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)