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needs, hierarchy of

needs, hierarchy of The central concept in Abraham Maslow's theory of self-actualization. He proposed that human desires are innately given and exist in an ascending hierarchy. Basic physiological needs—food, sleep, protection from extreme hazards of the environment—must first be met. Then the needs for safety and security become paramount: we need some kind of order, certainty, and structure in our lives. Once these are met the third need, to belong and to love, comes into play. Fourth in the hierarchy is the need for self-esteem—for both self-respect and esteem from other people. When all these needs have been met, the fifth and highest need emerges: namely, the need for self-actualization, or the desire to become everything that one can become. As Maslow states in Motivation and Personality (1970), ‘a musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. He must be true to his own nature.’ Part of Maslow's research involved the study of self-actualized people, and he provided substantial listings of the characteristics of such individuals. His work has led to the study of ‘peak’ experiences, and the growth of a transpersonal, often more spiritual psychology.

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