Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

“If one need is satisfied, then another emerges. First you don’t want a lot of money, you just want food and other vital things, then you want a small house or a small car, then a big house or a big car, then prestige, then … Oh, when it ends? why are we so greedy, and so unsatisfied?”, some ask. These people know nothing about “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” or “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid”. Abraham Maslow (1908- 1970) was an American professor of psychology who founded humanistic psychology and created Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. What Maslow said can be very useful for almost all humans, including Iranians and OWS protesters in the US and all around the world. Which Maslow called the Hierarchy of Needs, is a pyramid depicting the levels of human needs, psychological and physical. At the bottom of the pyramid are the Basic needs or Physiological needs of a human being, like food, shelter, s-e-x, Homeostasis, sleep, etc. The next level is Safety Needs”: security, stability, education, job, enough money, health, social security, insurance, safe house, etc. These two steps are important to the physical survival of the person. In fact, in this level the humans are like the animals. Once humans have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, they attempt to accomplish more. The third level of need is Love and Belonging needs, like love, family, friends, property, luxury and beautiful things, etc. The fourth level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable. It’s the Esteem level for needs like respect, prestige, social position, extra attention, power, big house, big car, a lot of money, etc. The negative version of some these needs is low self-esteem and inferiority complexes. The top of the pyramid, Need for Self-actualization, occurs when individuals live like great men. They enjoyed autonomy, a relative independence from physical and social needs. They are themselves rather than being pretentious or artificial, or mercenary, ass-kisser, charlatan, etc. They have a sense of humility and respect towards others. They are creative, inventive, and original. Maslow said: “Man is a perpetually wanting animal. The average member of our society is most often partially satisfied and partially unsatisfied in all of his wants. The hierarchy principle is usually empirically observed in terms of increasing percentages of non-satisfaction as we go up the hierarchy. Reversals of the average order of the hierarchy are sometimes observed. Also it has been observed that an individual may permanently lose the higher wants in the hierarchy under special conditions”. Some experts say: “Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Maslow was the oldest of seven children. His parents were uneducated Jews from Russia. He remembered his childhood as lonely and rather unhappy, because, as he said, ‘I was the little Jewish boy in the non-Jewish neighborhood. I was isolated and unhappy. I grew up in libraries and among books.’ His parents, hoping for the best for their children in the new world, pushed him hard for academic success. His family life and his experiences influenced his psychological ideas. After World War II, Maslow began to study mentally healthy individuals instead of people with serious psychological issues. Maslow used Einstein’s life to exemplify the characteristics of the self actualized person. He realized that all the individuals he studied had similar personality traits. He found that the self actualized people were comfortable being alone and had healthy personal relationships. They had only a few close friends and family rather than a large number of shallow relationships. They treated lifes difficulties as problems that demanded solutions. Maslow envisioned moments of extraordinary experience, known as Peak experiences, which are profound moments of love, understanding, happiness, or rapture, during which a person feels more alive, self-sufficient and yet a part of the world, more aware of truth, justice, harmony, goodness, and so on. Self-actualizing people have many such peak experiences. Maslow used the term Metamotivation to describe self actualized people who are driven by innate forces beyond their basic needs, so that the may explore and reach their full human potential. Maslow listed ‘Being values’ or ‘Meta needs’, that part of them are: Justice, Honesty, Goodness, Truth, Effortlessness, Playfulness, Self-Sufficiency, Meaningfulness, etc.” Of course, when Maslow introduced these ideas some weren’t ready to understand them. Some said: “Many of our best artists and authors, suffered from poverty, bad upbringing, neuroses, and depression. Some could even be called psychotic. The idea of artists and poets and philosophers, etc being strange is so common because it has so much truth to it”, but Maslow had answered to these matters, and what he said was a good clue; It’s helpful for all humans in all times.


In “A Theory of Human Motivation” (1943) Maslow writes: “The needs that are usually taken as the starting point for motivation theory are the so-called physiological drive. Undoubtedly these physiological needs are the most prepotent of all needs. What this means specifically is, that in the human being who is missing everything in life in an extreme fashion, it is most likely that the major motivation would be the physiological needs rather than any others. A person who is lacking food, safety, love, and esteem would most probably hunger for food more strongly than for anything else. If all the needs are unsatisfied, and the organism is then dominated by the physiological needs, all other needs may become simply non-existent or be pushed into the background“. It’s really true. When all your basic needs are unsatisfied, and you even have no food and no shelter, you can not think about anything, except basic needs. Suffering from poverty is one thing, but what Maslow said is “living like a homeless, while all your basic needs are unsatisfied”. The great men suffered from poverty, but their basic needs have been satisfied ‘X’ per cent, before the next need emerges. Masolow said ‘X’ is not 100; it can be 10, 25, 50, 75, etc. Maslow adds: “For the man who is extremely and dangerously hungry, no other interests exist but food. He dreams food, he thinks about food, and he wants only food. For our chronically and extremely hungry man, Utopia can be defined very simply as a place where there is plenty of food. He tends to think that, if only he is guaranteed food for the rest of his life, he will be perfectly happy and will never want anything more. Life itself tends to be defined in terms of eating. Anything else will be defined as unimportant. Freedom, love, respect, philosophy, science, etc may all be waved aside as fripperies which are useless since they fail to fill the stomach. [But] In most of the known societies, chronic extreme hunger of the emergency type is rare. The average American citizen is experiencing appetite rather than hunger when he says ‘I am hungry’ He is apt to experience sheer life-and-death hunger only by accident, and only a few times through his entire life”. It shows Maslow was not naive. Maslow adds: “But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled? At once other (and ‘higher’) needs emerge and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and ‘higher’) needs emerge and so on. This is what we mean by saying that the basic human needs are organized into a hierarchy of relative prepotency. The physiological needs may emerge again to dominate the organism if they are thwarted. But a want that is satisfied is no longer a want. The organism is dominated and its behavior organized only by unsatisfied needs”. It’s really true. It’s what Iranians and non-Iranians can see in their societies. The unsatisfied needs convert humans into animals, and create many social problems. Hypocrisy, kissing-ass, and serious crimes like murder, rape, embezzlement, drug dealings, etc are mainly result of the unsatisfied needs. Of course, the charlatan who try to find an excuse for justifying themselves, are insecure people in the bottom of the pyramid. They should try to be honest with themselves, and only after that they can find a way to get rid of living like animals. Maslow adds: “There are some people in whom, [some needs are more important than others,] for instance, self-esteem seems to be more important than love. And I may point out that it would be possible to analyze a single act of an individual and see in it the expression of his physiological needs, his safety needs, his love needs, his esteem needs and self-actualization“. It’s really true. You can have a job that fulfill most of your needs, from the basic needs to self-actualization. It’s the best case, but unfortunately many can not enjoy it in this shitty world. I hope one day the majority can reach the self-actualization level. A world that is full of self-actualized people, is a very beautiful world.


Maslow adds: “A child who becomes ill, for a day or two, develop fear, nightmares, and a need for protection and reassurance never seen in him before his illness. [In addition,] injustice, unfairness, or inconsistency in the parents seems to make a child feel anxious and unsafe. The central role of the parents and the normal family setup are
. Quarreling, physical assault, separation, divorce or death within the family may be particularly terrifying. Also threats of punishment, speaking to him harshly, shaking him, handling him roughly, or actual physical punishment sometimes elicit such total panic and terror in the child that we must assume more is involved than the physical pain alone. Our average child generally prefers a safe, orderly, predictable, organized world, which he can count, on, and in which unexpected, unmanageable or other dangerous things do not happen, and in which, in any case, he has all-powerful parents who protect and shield him from harm. The healthy, normal, fortunate adult in our culture is largely satisfied in his safety needs. The peaceful, smoothly running, ‘good’ society ordinarily makes its members feel safe enough from criminals, assault and murder, tyranny, etc ” Having good family and good society is very important, but unfortunately many people in the world, specially those who live under a brutal dictatorship, like Iran, deprive it. But it doesn’t mean that they can’t reach the top of the pyramid. Maybe, their satisfaction level is not 90 percent, but even with 25 percent or 50 percent, they can reach self-actualization. Maslow adds: “The tendency to have some religion or world-philosophy that organizes the universe and the men in it into some sort of satisfactorily coherent, meaningful whole is also in part motivated by safety-seeking. Here too we may list science and philosophy in general as partially motivated by the safety needs“. The first humans who started to think about the world, had one special feeling: “fear” and “unsafety”. It’s totally understandable, if you try to put yourself in the place of our first direct ancestors in tens of thousands years ago, when they lived in the wilds alone. They proffered to think they are not alone, and some one or something protect them. Maslow adds: “If both the physiological and the safety needs are fairly well gratified, then there will emerge the love and affection and belongingness needs, and the whole cycle already described will repeat itself with this new center. One thing that must be stressed at this point is that love is not synonymous with s-e-x. S-e-x may be studied as a purely physiological need “. It’s really true; those who care about s-e-x a lot, live like animals in the bottom of the pyramid. Maslow adds: “Satisfaction of the self-esteem need leads to feelings of self-confidence, worth, strength, capability and adequacy of being useful and necessary in the world. But thwarting of these needs produces feelings of inferiority, of weakness and of helplessness” It’s very important. The inferiority complexes can destroy many things. Maslow adds: “Even if all these needs are satisfied, we may still often (if not always) expect that a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for. A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization ” It’s really a very high and important level in the human life. Those who can reach this level, become great men. Of course, in the brutal dictatorship, like Iran, a writer must write but he can’t, a philosopher or thinker must think and create but he can’t. Maslow adds: “There are certain conditions which are immediate prerequisites for the basic need satisfactions. Such conditions as freedom to speak, freedom to do what one wishes so long as no harm is done to others, freedom to express one’s self, freedom to investigate and seek for information, freedom to defend one’s self, justice, fairness, honesty, orderliness in the group are examples of such preconditions for basic need satisfactions . These conditions are defended because without them the basic satisfactions are quite impossible, or at least, very severely endangered”. It’s very important, and those who live in Iran and other brutal dictatorships, know how important these conditions are. But unfortunately, many in the west have stupid delusions about these conditions. In the brutal dictatorship, like Iran, a writer must write but he can’t, a philosopher or thinker must think and create but he can’t, etc, and it leads to a great frustration or even suicide. And that’s why many Iranian elites (not fake intellects) want to immigrate from Iran. We would write more about it later.


Maslow adds: “The specific form that these [highest] needs will take will of course vary greatly from person to person. In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions”. It shows that Maslow didn’t have stupid delusions about self-actualization. Maslow adds: “We shall call people who are satisfied in these needs, basically satisfied people, but in our society, basically satisfied people are the exception, we do not know much about self-actualization, either experimentally or clinically “. It clearly shows that Maslow didn’t have delusion, and did not restrict the concept of self-actualization. Maslow adds: “A cause of reversal of the hierarchy is that when a need has been satisfied for a long time, this need may be under-evaluated. People who have never experienced chronic hunger are apt to underestimate its effects and to look upon food as a rather unimportant thing. If they are dominated by a higher need, this higher need will seem to be the most important of all. It then becomes possible, and indeed does actually happen, that they may, for the sake of this higher need, put themselves into the position of being deprived in a more basic need. Thus, a man who has given up his job rather than lose his self-respect, and who then starves for six months or so, may be willing to take his job back even at the price of losing his a self-respect”. It’s a bitter truth, and bad guys, from the slaveholders to the greedy capitalists, always try to abuse it. But if the modern world protects its people form the basic needs and everybody can enjoy a minimum living standard that is necessary to fulfill the basic needs, we would have a better world and a good human society that the bad guys, form the greedy rich and criminals to the stupid politicians, can not have the upper hand in it. It’s what the OWS protesters in the US and all around the world should pay serious attention to it . The basic needs of all humans, without any discrimination, must be fulfilled in the modern society, and in this way the humans can say goodbye to the animal life, and many can enjoy the human life and self-actualization. And it’s better for the whole world and all people. In this way, we all, and our society, become more beautiful and more powerful. And all people can enjoy their life and can be happy, not just a small group. Maslow adds: “If one need is satisfied, then another emerges. This statement might give the false impression that a need must be satisfied 100 per cent before the next need emerges. In actual fact, most members of our society who are normal, are partially satisfied in all their basic needs and partially unsatisfied in all their basic needs at the same time. A more realistic description of the hierarchy would be in terms of decreasing percentages of satisfaction as we go up the hierarchy of prepotency , For instance, if I may assign arbitrary figures for the sake of illustration, it is as if the average citizen is satisfied perhaps 85 per cent in his physiological needs, 70 per cent in his safety needs, 50 per cent in his love needs, 40 per cent in his self-esteem needs, and 10 per cent in his
self-actualization needs”. It clearly shows that Maslow did not have any delusion. Maslow adds: “As for the concept of emergence of a new need after satisfaction of the prepotent need, this emergence is not a sudden, saltatory phenomenon but rather a gradual emergence by slow degrees from nothingness. For instance, if prepotent need A is satisfied only 10 per cent: then need B may not be visible at all. However, as this need A becomes satisfied 25 per cent, need B may emerge 5 per cent , as need A becomes satisfied 75 per cent need B may emerge go per cent, and so on” In fact, Maslow didn’t have delusions, as his stupid critics say. Maslow said: “Let us say again that there are many determinants of behavior other than the needs and desires” And it again shows the depth of Maslow’s wisdom. He also said: “The perfectly healthy, normal, fortunate man has no s-e-x needs or hunger needs, or needs for safety, or for love, or for prestige, or self-esteem, except in stray moments of quickly passing threat”. I hope many can become a healthy, normal, fortunate, and self-actualized man in the future.

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