Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham_Maslow A need is something that is essential to the emotional and psychological health and survival of humans. All people strive to meet basic needs at any given time and individual’s need may be met, partially met, or unmet. A person whose needs may be considered to be healthy and a person with one or more unmet needs is at increased risk of illness or health alterations in one or more of the human dimensions.

Maslow’s framework of basic needs is based on the theory that something is a basic need if:

its absence results in illness

its presence prevents or signals health

meeting an unmet need restores health

Maslow arranges basic human needs in a hierarchy, in which certain needs are more basic than others. Although all the needs are present, the individual strives to meet certain of the needs at least to a minimal level before attending to the others.



The physical needs inherent in all human beings: among them are the needs for oxygen, food, fluids, sleep and procreation to assure the continuation of human existence. Physiological needs are sometimes referred to as basic needs. Physiological needs must be met at least minimally for life to continue. Below the level of substance, death occurs.


The need for safety is subordinate only to basic physiological needs. Safety is both physiological and psychological. We need not only a safe physical environment, a shelter but also the feeling of psychological safety. To feel safe we need regular contact with people we trust and feel close to.


The security we gain from love and belonging enhances the feeling of safety. Our feeling of structure and security is reinforced when we know where we stand in relation to others, and who we are to them. We all need mutually meaningful relationships with other people.


Self – esteem is derived largely from the feeling that we are valued by those around us. We feel good about ourselves when the people who are important to us express acceptance and approval. But self – esteem comes from within; it is related to the assessments of our own adequacy, our performance and our capacity in the various arenas of lives, both personal and professional and that others hold one in high regard.


The need to reach one’s potential through development of one’s unique capabilities. In general, each lower level of need must be met to some degree before this need can be satisfied. The process of self – actualization is on that continues throughout life. The following are qualities that indicate achievement of one’s potential:

• Acceptance of self and others as they are

• Focus of interest on problems outside of self

• Ability to be objective

• Feelings of happiness and affection for others

• Respect for all persons

• Ability to discriminate between good and evil

• Creativity as a guideline for solving problems and carrying out interests

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