MASLOW’s pyramid of NEEDS – Intro (Part 1)


PREVIOUS: Dealing with Difficult People

SITE: ‘Unmet Human Needs’

NEED  – A psychological feature that arouses any organism to move toward a goal, giving purpose & direction to behavior.

NEEDS motivate human actions. They’re normal, made up of all the elements required for developing a safe, stable & healthy life. Having an accurate & sufficient amount of them fulfilled is imperative, since a deficiency will have severe consequences: dysfunction or premature death

Having needs can be said to represent the ‘costs of being human’. People who don’t have enough of them met (a ‘needy’ person) will function poorly in society. Feelings / emotions indicate whether or not our needs are being met & to what degree – so they’re neither good nor bad, right nor wrong – just very necessary 🙄

EXP: Sexuality is used everywhere in our culture to sell goods & services, by stirring a desire for things we may or may not need. This works because sex is one of our basic instinctual needs, so we react automatically, unconsciously.

WANTS – Desires, wishes or aspirations are not vital – things that must be earned. This is not to say we shouldn’t have wants. The desire to have someone or something good is part instinctive & healthy, & part personal taste – something to strive for that adds pleasure to our life

DEMANDS –  People can get into trouble when they demand to have their wants met – without contributing anything towards getting them. Being demanding come from neediness & a sense of injustice.

We had every right to demand / expect that our family provide normal human needs when we were young – but had little control about getting them. For many of us it was done poorly or barely at all, which created a sense of desperation that can trigger the compulsion to demand that others make up those deficits.

However, as adults it’s not legitimate to expect & demand that other adults fill the empty hole in our emotional/ psychological gut – which is our responsibility to provide. Nor is it ‘sane’ to demand something from a person who absolutely doesn’t have it to give.

HAPPINESS – The Pyramid of needs is one of the best-known theories of motivation. Inspired by the work of Carl Jung & humanistic psychologist Erich Fromm, Brooklyn-born American psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) believed that the urge for self-actualization is deeply entrenched in the human psyche, so that the desire for happiness is equally worthy of attention, but is usually based on more basic needs being met first.
He felt that a great personal (non-spiritual) tragedy for many is dying without ever knowing who they really could have been – their True Self. (Maslow’s life & writing)

This Hierarchy points out the possibility of growing intentionally – to develop our unique identity & skills, & using them creatively to benefit ourselves & the world. Maslow was dissatisfied with the 2 main theories of his time – Freud’s psychoanalysis which dealt with mental illness, & Skinner’s behaviorism which reduced humans to mindless machines or animals.

He wanted to identify mental health & happiness, not just to focus on misery. So he studied positive human characteristics, looking at the lives of outstanding people such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass, Albert Einstein & Jane Addams (the ‘mother’ of Social Work)…..

Synthesizing piles of research re. human motivation (the inner drive to get what we need), Maslow created his Needs pyramid in 1954. He concluded that when our basic physical needs are satisfied, other higher ones can be recognized & worked on, & once those are met, even higher needs can become our focus. The assumption was that people first have to be on a solid foundation – providing the Deficiencies (Level 1 -3), before they can work on Growth.

NEXT: Maslow’s Pyramid #2

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