Maslow's Basic Needs

Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed what he called his Hierarchy of Needs. It describes the needs that each human faces, and once a person has fulfilled a specific need, he is then consciously (or subconsciously) able to progress in meeting the next need. When I was first introduced to them in college, I was aware of only five, but upon further study, there are actually eight.

Physiological Needs
Safety, Health, and Security Needs
Belongingness and Love Needs
Esteem Needs
Cognitive Needs
Aesthetic Needs
Self Actualization
Self Transcendence

Abraham Maslow’s study of Psychology was such an amazing innovation because he went to the other extreme than any of his contemporaries. Where Freud, Adler, and Erikson studied the sick and unhealthy, Maslow focused on people that he called “exemplary.” As he put it, “The study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy.” And so Maslow based his Hierarchy of Basic Human Needs not on the failures in life, but on the successes.

The first stage that Abraham Maslow discussed was Physiological Needs. These are the literal requirements for survival, those which enable the human body to function and without which will ensure certain death. They are breathing, water, food, sleep, clothing, shelter, and sex. Okay, so maybe sex isn’t necessary for individual survival, but it is necessary for the survival of the species.

If you’re reading this, chances are great that these needs have been met and you are pretty assured of survival for the time being. Before we progress, take a moment to be grateful for these many gifts of life. Many are far less fortunate.

Farther Reaches of Human Nature
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