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Abraham Maslow
hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow
hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow first began to be interested in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin and was awarded junior and senior degrees to PhD level there between 1930 and 1934. During these years he was greatly influenced by the work of Harry Harlow who was experimenting with the attachment behaviour of juvenile Rhesus monkeys.

What we now know as the Abraham Maslow hierarchy of need theory dates, in its initial conception, from circa 1943. This concept is applied to Human Beings and suggests that basic needs takes precedence but, once these are met, other need come to the fore in people's lives.

The most basic need is related to physiological survival - air to breate, water to drink, food to eat and sex to procreate.

Next in order of precedence comes a set of needs for such things as safety and security.

Once an individual has taken care of his or her basic physiological needs and feels safe and secure some degree of need for love and belonging may well rise to the forefront of their concerns.

Need for the respect of our fellows, and for self-respect, are seen as being next in order of precedence.

Maslow referred to the four levels of need already mentioned as deficit needs, or D-needs. If you don't have enough of something -- i.e. you have a deficit -- you feel the need. Maslow saw all these needs as essentially survival needs. Even love and esteem are needed for the maintenance of health.

The last level of the pyramid is a bit different. Maslow used a variety of terms to refer to this level:- growth motivation (in contrast to deficit motivation), being needs (or B-needs, in contrast to D-needs), and self-actualization.

The remaining layer of need is different in that it is seen as being intimately related to the self-actualization of the individual. People might have enough of food, security, belonging and respect but!!! enough of self-actualization is harder to attain.

In point of fact self-actualization is seen as being somewhat addictive, once experienced it is something that people tend to want more and more of! Moreover people can only really pay attention to self-actualization needs once their more basic needs are satisfactorally met!

Abraham Maslow considered that very few people actually live, move, and have their being, within the realms of such self-actualization - mainly because people are generally involved in meeting the other needs already outlined.

Several things are associable with "self-actualization" - being independently confident in meeting life's challenges - in choosing between that which is more and that which is less worthwhile - and in feeling that one's time has been used creatively and inventively.

The Abraham Maslow hierarchy of need theory was later adapted to include a greater complexity in the area of self-actualisation. Under this adaption human needs included a thirst for knowledge and a need for aesthetical order and beauty prior to self-actualization and a "Transcendence" need beyond self-actualization where people would feel a need to help others to find fulfillment.