Abraham Maslow is the founder and leading exponent of humanist psychology. He was the author of the theory of the hierarchy of needs which is based on the existence of a series of needs or requirements of every human being. This hierarchy is organized in descending order: it goes from the most urgent elements to the most postponable ones. According to Maslow, our actions arise from the motivation to cover certain needs. In turn, these are sorted according to their importance for our physical well-being.
The graphic representation of the theory of hierarchy of needs it is a pyramidal structure. In fact, this theory is also known as Maslow's pyramid.
The theory of the hierarchy of needs
In the lower part of the pyramid are placed the vital needs, those priority needs for biological survival. Towards the top of the pyramid, however, there are those of lesser urgency. The higher levels concern, in fact, the self-realization . By satisfying the lower levels of the pyramid, the individual does not become apathetic. The goal is to reach and satisfy the needs found at the top of the pyramid.
Today the consumer society in which we live has caused great cultural changes. Consequently, the content, terms and conception of the natural desires of the human being have been modified. Today we seem to be concerned only with enjoying all kinds of good and service , we collect them without taking into account their usefulness, in stark contrast to the theory of the hierarchy of needs.
However, there is another factor to be taken into account. The more existential dimensions have lost their validity and those values that were once the basis of social relations have been lost. The cornerstone of different cultures has been lost. It is therefore necessary to review and recategorise the current concept of need.
The structure of the hierarchy of needs
Maslow's pyramid forms a hierarchical structure. According to this structure, as the human being satisfies the most basic needs of life, he begins to develop more superfluous desires. These goals are categorized into five levels.
'True social progress does not consist in increasing needs, but in reducing them voluntarily; for this it takes humility. '
1. Physiological needs
They constitute the highest priority of the individual, as they guarantee survival and reproduction. At this level we find needs such as omeostasi , or an effort by the body to maintain a normal state. A constancy that maximizes vital functions. This level also includes needs such as:
- Adequate body temperature
2. Need for security
With physiological satisfaction, the creation and maintenance of a state of order and security is sought. In this level we find the following needs:
- Good health
- Receive protection
These desires arise from each individual's fear of losing control over their life. In fact, they are intimately correlated with fear, which is even more evident in the face of the unknown.
3. Social needs
Once the physiological and safety needs have been met, the focus is on the social sphere. The desire to have company , with its affective aspect and its social participation. In this level we find aspects such as:
- Communicate with other people
- Building friendships
- Show and receive affection
- Living in the community
- Belong to a group
- Feeling accepted
4. Needs of gratitude
Also known as needs “of self esteem ', The wishes of this fourth level are:
- Feeling appreciated
- Having prestige
- Stand out within a social group
- Respect for yourself
5. Personal improvement needs
Also called 'self-actualization', they are the most difficult goal to achieve in the theory of the hierarchy of needs. At this level, the human being wants to transcend his own death, leave a trace of himself, carry out his work, develop his talent to the maximum. They are needs correlated with:
- Spiritual development
- Moral development
- Search for a mission in life
'You cannot escape from needs, but you can win'.
The psychological needs of the human being
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health not only as the absence of affections or diseases, but as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.
Psychological well-being encompasses our highest needs. It is a set of feelings that refer to how we judge our life globally. These needs do not necessarily relate to pleasant situations or to satisfy our personal desires. In fact, they refer to a joint of larger dimensions.
Among the most important psychological needs of the human being are those of affection, love, belonging and gratitude. However, the greatest psychological need of the human being is self-realization. It is in fact through his satisfaction that he finds a justification or a meaning to life .
'We will go forward towards growth or we will go back towards insecurity.'
Many studies and research support Malsow's theory of the hierarchy of needs. There are just as many, however, who disagree. Some, for example, criticize the abstraction of the concept of self-realization. Some studies even claim that the needs for self-fulfillment and recognition are important even if the most basic ones are not met.
Regardless of the criticism received, Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of needs is a backbone of psychology, which has helped establish and develop humanistic psychology and the concept of the common good.
Self-realized people according to Abraham Maslow
Self-realized people are those who have found the perfect balance between 'ideal self' and 'real self'. They are unconventional, free, satisfied, grateful and sensitive individuals.