Wellness Focus: Get to Know Dr. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs or... Something to think about.
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. It helps us to understand why some people thrive in society and others become stuck or minimally functional. It helps to visualize how those that face neglect during childhood may struggle with reaching higher need levels.
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, etc...at 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 popular culture with heavy reliance on the ideas and values our media promotes, I.e., negative body image, materialism, shaming, etc... create ongoing psychological barriers that interfere with breaking free of the lower esteem level and moving 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!