Human Needs

Last modified: August 6, 2020
You are here:
Estimated reading time: 3 min

‘I’ cannot insert a single definition from Wikipedia here telling you what Human needs are at this point as there are several differing psychological definitions that WE as Humans have created and therefore there isn’t a single agreed upon definition unlike the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights WE discussed earlier.

However, one of the main criticisms of any of the competing psychological theories we currently have is that the concepts of “need” can vary radically among different cultures or even among different parts of the same society.

Not withstanding this, the theory that has always made the most sense to ME relating to MY Human Needs since ‘I’ found out about it several years ago is the one known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow initially published a Pyramid relating to his theory of Human Needs with 5 stages which the great video below explains…

From this initial Pyramid we can see the following 5 needs:

  • Physiological needs – such as air, water, food
  • Safety needs – shelter, clothes, routine
  • Belonging and Love needs – family, friends lovers
  • Esteem needs – self-respect and respect from others, high evaluation of oneself, achievement, reputation prestige
  • Self-actualization – self-growth, actualizing one’s inner potential

However in his later career and life he actually refined his Pyramid of Needs to have 8 stages not 5 as illustrated by the following graphic:

Image via

Maslow suggested that a failure to have your needs met at any stages of the hierarchy of needs could lead to illness, particularly psychiatric illness or mental health issues. It is also suggested that when any of your basic Safety Needs are not met then Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may occur.

Taking the later version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and moving further up the levels, it is also suggested that individuals who do not feel love or belonging may also experience depression or anxiety.

The inability for a person to self-actualise in Maslow’s terms, is also considered by some, to be a large factor in the increases in depression and anxiety WE see in modern society today, especially in the West, despite an increase in our supposed material wealth.

‘I’ personally feel, ‘I’ have been able to operate at stage 7 several times over the last few years or to use Maslow’s terminology, ‘I’ have self-actualised.

This very documentation is MY best attempt at helping you also get closer to achieving self-actualisation and thus at the same time meeting MY own self-transcendence needs as described in step 8 above and expanded upon in the following quote…

“A person is motivated by values which transcend beyond the personal self (e.g., mystical experiences and certain experiences with nature, aesthetic experiences, sexual experiences, service to others, the pursuit of science, religious faith, etc.)”.

‘I’ strongly believe, self-actualisation and then hopefully later self-transcendence are ways for you to live a fuller and more meaningful life.

In addition to your own personal needs being met, there are other theories and models that try to convey the various physiological levels WE each go through as individuals but as part of wider society. One of the most widely known is called Spiral Dynamics.

Spiral Dynamics

In this psychological model, values are arranged in a hierarchical structure in a similar way to how they are above in Maslow’s Human Needs. However, within Spiral Dynamics there are eight different levels or developmental stages WE as individuals and society in general are said to be able to grow through during our lives. Another way to think of these is if you think of each of these bands of colour like a “centre of gravity” that is, there will likely be one that you spend the most of your time in currently…

Spiral Dynamics images via https://chaturvedimayank

At first glance, or even after a long stare, the above model, originally based on Clare W. Graves research levels of development can seem very complicated! However if you understood Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs above then there are some comparisons WE can make between these to perhaps to see how your needs fit within the larger wholeness of existence…

Maslow’s NeedsSpiral Dynamics
First tier – “Subsistence” ⬇
Physiological needsBEIGE – Survival
Safety needsPURPLE – Protection
Belonging needsGREEN – Belonging
Esteem needsORANGE – Achievement
Second Tier – “Being” ⬇
Self-actualisation needsYellow – Integration
Self-transcendence needsTurquoise – Collective

The importance of tiers

When any of your centres of gravity are in the first tier of the Spiral Dynamics model above (Beige to green or 1-6) then you tend to only identify with the particular value structure. This means you can also become convinced everyone else should also value these things too. In short, no matter how tolerant and unprejudiced you think you are, you are actually probably excluding and unable to fully appreciate opposing and alternative views. Being centred here just leads to yet more of the division and tribalism WE see today.

However if your centre of gravity is higher then your level of conscious awareness will have increased and your reliance on your ego will have also reduced. The jump to higher developmental stages are hugely important.

If you can personally reach tier two then you will now be able to see each stage for it’s importance as part of a wider whole but crucially without then resorting to classifying others values and beliefs as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ 🙏

‘I’ talk about consciousness in much more detail later within The Human Mind however for now, simply by you now having read and being aware of the above models will help your conscious mind understand what’s going on!

If WE are each able to meet our own Human Needs better including yours would this then contribute to raising the overall level of OUR Human existence as per the Spiral Dynamics model?

WE have now covered all the main Human species related definitions in the broadest sense possible and also touched upon Human Needs both at a personal level and OUR wider Human needs as a species but it’s time to now get even more personal…

Was this article helpful?
Dislike 0
Views: 356

Continue reading...

Previous: 1. Who are you?
Next: The Human Body