Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Last week we discussed the needs versus wants relationship with a focus on needs for survival. While this may have elicited some debate, it should be known that this was over simplified. Abraham Maslow’s work on the human quest to meet needs is often revered as the foundation of the human experience of “needs.” First introduced in 1943 and published in 1954, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has undergone some revisions, but still holds true in most aspects today.

The “survival” needs discussed last week are on the base of the pyramid. Sex is added to this level purely for the “survival of the species” aspect, the need to procreate.

The next level explores security. This is safety for ourselves and family, securing our “stuff” from loss and beginning the process of mental health growth by adding peace of mind knowing it is harder to be taken advantage of by others. We also see firming of one’s morals and values while focusing on maintaining employment to secure this level, and the base level.

The third level of the pyramid is love and belonging. It’s the maintenance of friendships and relationships to add to the human experience. We see this growth in ourselves quite a bit. When someone is focused on a lower level, you might hear statements like “I don’t have time for a boyfriend” or “I’d like to hang out, but I have too much stuff to do.” Once the lower levels are more secure, we tend to go out and explore with more confidence.

The fourth level is esteem. If we are able to get to this level, we began working on ourselves through self-esteem and acceptance. When lower levels are not secure, it is hard to work on this level. We see this often in therapy when someone is struggling with low self-esteem. Suggesting to work on this before securing other levels often leads to nowhere because for that client, self-esteem is just not as important.

The final, top, capstone of Maslow’s pyramid is self-actualization. This is the pinnacle and a place where few people end up. These individuals are at peace with all around them, as well as themselves. They are able to use their abilities to the maximum (i.e. creativity, problem solving) because there are no roadblocks to utilizing these skills. This is the truest idea of freedom because the self-actualized person is well-rounded, all-encompassing and open to anything, while maintaining and keeping secure their lower levels.

If you would like to explore Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs further and work on securing some of your lower levels of the pyramid in order to push forward, do not hesitate to call and set up an appointment with a therapist. We can help to lay those foundations of the Maslow pyramid to climb up toward self-actualization.

For a visual representation of Maslow’s pyramid, follow this link: Maslow’s Pyramid.