Abraham Maslow Hierarchy of Needs


Q: I know about the Abraham Maslow hierarchy of needs. Are the three spheres an explanation of psychological needs? What is the difference between your work Maslow theories?

A: Maslow is interesting because he studied healthy and creative individuals.

He is often remembered for his hierarchy of needs.  That is that the individual has a variety of needs that begin with physiological needs (the lowest on the pyramid) and once satisfied, evolve all the way to self-actualization (top of pyramid).

In Abraham Maslow’s model, the level of need moves upwards as soon as the previous level of need is satisfied.  In this model, physiological needs precede psychological needs. In the Lifetrack experience, physiological and psychological needs can co-exist; a hierarchy is not rigid nor necessarily representative of human experience.

Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs also does not allow for tradeoffs. It mixes physical and psychological needs. According to Dr. Yukio Ishizuka, the need for selfintimacy, and achievement can be creatively met in myriad ways. In the short run, tradeoffs among these psychological needs are a sign of flexibility and health.

Trade-Offs of Self, Intimacy and Achievement

The ability to make tradeoffs, however, does not imply that these needs are merely desires, not critical elements of a healthy life. Long term frustration in any one of these needs can result in distress and breakdown.

Another important difference from Maslow is that the model of positive mental health provides a means to understand the same individual at different points in their cycle of life, whether in dire distress or optimal health. This differs with Maslow’s studies of self-actualization, which focus on historical figures such as Lincoln, Jefferson, Thoreau, Einstein, and others as ideal candidates.

Although Maslow contributed much to the field by balancing the darker side of the human psyche with an understanding of love, well-being, and exuberance, some say he fell short of integrating the two halves; the positive and the negative (see criteria for models of positive mental health Jahoda). In this sense, the Lifetrack positive mental health approach may represent a middle ground, integrating the mind (or personality) both in distress and in well-being.

Copyright © 2010 Lifetrack Corporation

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