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Wellness Focus: Get To Know Dr. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Updated on February 13, 2014

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs or... Something to chew on

I am a big fan of Dr. Abraham Maslow. I first became familiar with his theories while in college. Dr. Maslow is famous for his research in human psychology, the process of human self-actualization and the development of his construct; "Maslow's hierarchy of needs".

I think it is so important for us to either become familiar with or to revisit his ideas because they are so pertinent to our daily lives and help to explain how each of us function as individuals in society.

Here's a quick review. Let's walk from the bottom of the triangle to the top:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is visually portrayed in the shape of a triangle with our basic Physiological Needs, i.e., air, water, food, temperature, sex, the bottom. This is the first set of needs. Next, as we proceed upward we come to Safety Needs such as safety, security, stability, protection, etc... The third level of needs are Belonging Needs or our need for love, friends, affectionate connections with others, etc...The fourth level of needs are Esteem Needs. Maslow split this level into two groups of needs with lower esteem needs based on status, attention and respect from others, power, etc...and then higher esteem needs based on self-respect, self-confidence, competence, freedom, etc... At the very top level or peak of the triangle is Self-Actualization, or the need for self-fulfillment of your greatest potential. Maslow separates out these top level needs as Being Needs and the prior levels as Deficit needs.

Maslow emphasized that when lower needs are not met or you have a deficit at a particular level, it can prevent the progression to higher need levels and the eventual fulfillment of your highest potential. You can actually fixate on deficit needs for the rest of your life. He also indicated that under stressful conditions a person can regress to a lower need level.

These are questions I have chewed on and would like you to ponder:

1. Does our modern culture with it's growing emphasis on the over sexualization of young girls and the subsequent materialism that thrives on values dependent on what others think and whether they will accept us or not based on appearance, actually contribute to our young people getting and staying "stuck" at the lower esteem level of Maslow's hierarchy? Does our popular culture and it's modern values promote a continuous struggle to break free of the lower esteem level and move beyond to higher levels and eventually to self-actualization? Hm.....

2. How can we promote success in our academic settings when observing the needs of children and youth who daily deal with deficits in the safety and belonging needs levels?

3. How does Maslow's hierarchy of needs help explain eatting disorders and addictions? Or does it?

It is my hope that this information at the least gives you a brief introduction to Dr. Maslow and his "hierarchy of needs" and that you will continue to move towards your own self-fufillment and awareness that indeed makes life so much sweeter. Let's all go forward with our own research and reach the top of that triangle!

Make love a priority...
Make love a priority...


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      Yale Wishnick 7 years ago

      Very nice summary. When we consider that almost 50% of Americans to not pay federal taxes and depend on the other 50%, we are living in deficit times. My sense is as long as we have groups and organizations (including government) that exist to simply take care of 50% of our people, the number of people dependent on others will continue grow.

    • Stayifyouwant2 profile image

      Stayifyouwant2 9 years ago from So. California

      I also like Abraham Maslow. But I have a different perspective on his theories. Read "Fex."

    • talented_ink profile image

      talented_ink 9 years ago from USA

      Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a fascinating piece of work and to avoid writing too much, I'm just going to answer the first part of your first question. Sex will continue to sell more and more to the masses, and in trying to be like the next girl, young girls can be forced to stay in the lower esteem level because their confidence and respect doesn't come from solely comes from others so they would always need the approval of others for a happy existence. Good hub!