Maslow contends the bottom four needs (physiological, safety, love/belonging, and esteem) are deficiency needs. The bottom level needs are the most important, and only when these needs are met can we move up to the next need. If a lower level need, such as physiological, is not being met then no other needs are relevant. After all, if you cannot breathe (physiological) then you probably aren’t real worried about what your friends think of you (love/belonging).
I think this only applies to a certain point. I believe once physiological needs are met, an individual can freely move throughout this pyramid of needs based on their own perception of what they feel they need at the time. The concept of a “deficiency need” is relative anyway, as is the way this pyramid is constructed. I believe this theory may be good for general understanding of human motivation, but may not be applied at the micro level.
I like the eight needs suggested by another theorist (Dr. Gary Applegate) and my idea for application. Applegate’s 8 needs are:
1) health 2) security 3) freedom 4) faith 5) knowledge 6) love 7) fun 8)worth
My application is:
Individual perception is paramount in determining which needs are being unmet. A guy like Victor Frankl can find a way to fulfill his need for freedom in a Nazi concentration camp, while a successful business man may feel completely trapped by the demands of his job. Some people go about getting their need for love met by dating people and committing to them, others go about getting this need met in a completely inappropriate way and end up being my client.
Also, the ordering of these needs isn’t absolute. For some people, faith may come even before security. For others, fun comes before health.
The key is doing an inventory on yourself, and finding which needs you feel are being unmet. How are you going about attempting to meet this need? Why isn’t it working? What other avenues might you choose to get this need met? Is the manner in which you are going about meeting another need infringing on the fulfillment of the need in question? Can you make a compromise with yourself between the fulfillment of these two needs?