a blog about mental illness and community

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

A central tenet of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is the importance of creating a life worth living.

One way to do this is to work upwards through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow penned ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ – a paper that revolutionised psychological theory.

Maslow believed that people are motivated to achieve certain needs.

When one need is fulfilled, a person seeks to fulifil the next.

According to SimplyPsychology writer Saul McLeod:

“Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualisation.  Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs. Life experiences including divorce and loss of job may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of the hierarchy.

Maslow noted only one in a hundred people become fully self-actualised because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs.”

The Hierarchy of Needs has strong ties to mental health.

Nothing like a denial of physiological needs, safety, loving relationships and self-esteem to fire up the old depression furnace.

For people with mental illness, it’s not so much a deliberate plan to be “less than you are capable of being” than a constant fight to be the best you can be despite immense barriers to self-actualisation.

What are your thoughts on Maslow’s pyramid?


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