Hierarchy of needs

11 10 2009

Today, one of my Facebook friends mentioned Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which I have always found interesting. Here’s a diagram of the hierarchy, lifted from Wikipedia:

Hierarchy of Needs

Hierarchy of Needs

The basic idea is that the needs at the bottom of the pyramid are higher priority than the ones above it. If you can’t breathe, or are desperately hungry or tired, you have to deal with that first. Then come safety, health and security needs, and so on.

What struck me about this hierarchy is that some people won’t – or can’t – prioritize their needs in this order. Some intensely creative people prefer self-actualization over love and belonging, and will sometimes risk their safety or even their health to bring their work into the world. And there are some people who are forced to place love and belonging lower on the hierarchy – these are people who want to fit in but can’t. I’m fascinated by people who want to belong, who want to be loved, but for some reason or other can’t be. I see them on the subway all the time. What are their lives like?

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