Can deficiency needs be answered?
July 30, 2011 2:27 AM   Subscribe

Thinking in context of "Maslow's hierarchy of needs" (the pyramid) - can voids be filled? If so how did you succeed in it?

The other day I was looking at a very well done, fully completed to do-list of mine. It looked great! All the items were neatly crossed and one would expect, all this, to bring a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment (wouldn't he?). But there was none. Instead there was a feeling of emptiness and anxiousness.
What was different in that day, is that one thought lead to another and eventually I've found myself recalling Maslow's hierarchy of needs from his "theory of human motivation". Somewhere in the context there is a sentence saying "...if these deficiency needs are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the individual feels anxious and tense."
Now let's assume that there's an unmet need in the safety level (bullying, lack of support at home, moving to a different country, etc..). My question is can this be fixed/filled to reflect today's reality?

Thank You
Pardon my English.
posted by MTuser to Human Relations (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Now let's assume that there's an unmet need in the safety level (bullying, lack of support at home, moving to a different country, etc..). My question is can this be fixed/filled to reflect today's reality?

This is difficult to understand. What do you mean by "today's reality?" Are you saying that your life is, in fact, stable and safe but you nonetheless feel unsafe, or are you saying that you're currently experiencing some safety-related stresses (i.e. you are being bullied, lack support at home or have moved to a different country)?
posted by jon1270 at 4:41 AM on July 30, 2011

Your English is ok, never mind.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a broad description of basic human needs. You cannot compare it to to-do list to it. Two weeks from now you will have another to-do list. But you will have the same home, health, money, friends, family, love, accomplishments.

It is normal to feel empty once completing a to-do list. Make your next to-do list more difficult. Most people cannot complete a to-do list. If you can, you are doing just fine.

As for unmet needs on the "safety level" I am not sure what you mean but perhaps you are hinting that you suffer from "bullying, lack of support at home, moving to a different country, etc". Perhaps you wonder if you have to solve all those problems before moving on to the next level of life. If that is your question then understand this: All humans are wounded. We just have to get on with life, together with our wounds, without waiting for something magic to happen.

So, do not interpret Maslow's hierarchy of needs as if it were a computer program. You are a human, not a machine. Only you can decide what your life path is.
posted by mono blanco at 5:47 AM on July 30, 2011

If I am understanding you correctly, you're saying that you expected completion of the to-do list to bring you a feeling of contentment and satisfaction, but in fact it brought anxiety because you were now worried about higher-level things in Maslow's hierarchy?
posted by jayder at 6:01 AM on July 30, 2011

Maslow's theory indicates no, you cannot achieve higher levels of fulfillment (and ultimately become self-actualized) unless lower level needs are met. But like the other respondents indicated, the theory does not go into detail about exactly how we decide our needs are met. It's not like a checklist that if you have (1) a home, (2) food, (3) support from family, then you will be happy.

There's probably another theory to explain how we decide that we have satisfied those needs. My first reaction is there are two responses to unmet needs: (1) change your behavior and (2) change your attitude. There are plenty of psychological theories to assist you with those solutions.

But Maslow would say, one way or another, that you need those lower levels to get to higher levels (they are "necessary but not sufficient" conditions).
posted by parkerjackson at 6:01 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

1. Others argue (Victor Frankl, perhaps?) that Maslow's hierarchy is a rough guideline. For example, there were people composing symphonies, that is, self-actualizing, while captive in concentration camps.

2. Eugene Gendlin in Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy describes a process he calls "filling in" where someone profoundly lacking some experience in the past can genuinely have it in the present via contact with bodily intuition and become more whole.

See also Focusing.
posted by zeek321 at 6:52 AM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all your replies,

I'll try to be more specific.
I am indeed saying that my current reality is rather stable, safe and even somewhat prosperous (seemingly - to the outside, everything seems to be working well) yet I am still feeling tense when am walking the streets, having basic human interactions and am basically afraid to be noticed.
jayder - you are right regarding my expectations not matching the reality. In spite of doing well, I feel unsatisfied, anxious, etc.. It's not like I am really worried about the higher levels - but more as I'm trying to see if there is something lacking in the lower levels.
parkerjackson - regarding changing my behavior or attitude : I sure tried to convince myself that my life is full of good aspects and I no longer have to be afraid. Yet it all is still here...
zeek321 Thanks for the heads up on Focusing, I am checking it right now.
posted by MTuser at 5:30 AM on August 2, 2011

« Older Why does my butt ache when I sit?   |   MS Office themes that provide good design to my... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.