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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
by Bob Poston, cst

An Exercise in Personal Exploration:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is a valuable assessment tool that is used in many different professions, particularly those in the fields of education and health care. the ideas of needs are addressed in order, as the body resolves the most basic needs for survival before moving on to more complex needs.

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any educational programs in the health care field teach Maslow’s hierarchy in order to address the needs of patients and where they are in their life from a psychological perspective, simply because it helps identify and address the needs of those particular patients. The idea of using a hierarchy pyramid helps us to lay out the stages of need, starting with the base of the pyramid, which looks at physiological needs. As we work our way up the pyramid, the needs start to become more complex, and include safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and finally, at the very top, we have self-actualization. This article explores the theories of Abraham Maslow in detail, as well as addresses the controversies that have been questioned in his theory. This article will also evaluate the impact of these theories on human behavior and assess each of the components comprised within Maslow’s Hierarchy Pyramid.

learning OBJec tives
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identify the different levels of
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

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Compare and contrast the differences between being needs and deficit needs

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explain the process of selfactualization

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examine how Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs impacts patient care

Biographical outline Born on April 1, 1908, in Brooklyn, New York, Abraham Maslow was the first of seven children.1 The son of under-educated Jewish immigrants, Maslow didn’t have many friends as a young

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Consider the challenges to Maslow’s theories and formulate a response

© 2009 Association of Surgical Technologists For reprint permission: publications@ast.org

AUGUST 2009

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the surgical technologist

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food and play, they would in more cases choose the food. The same was true when it came to the monkeys’ choice between water and food. The water would always be chosen as the Selfpriority over food. Self-fulfullment actualization: needs achieving one’s As the observations continued, a full potential, pattern emerged. Maslow could see, on including creative a physiological level, that if the monactivities keys didn’t have food, but had water, Esteem needs: the group was less aggressive than prestige and feeling of accomplishment Psychological those that had the water taken away needs Belongingness and love needs: from them. 1 The same held true with intimate relationships, friends safety needs. If all of the physiologiSafety needs: cal needs were met, then the monkeys’ security, safety Basic behavior became more profound when needs Physiological needs: it came to establishing social roles and food, water, warmth, rest dominance. Maslow later transitioned this idea over to human behavior and was able to establish physiological needs over child, but found his sense of self by reading books. He safety needs, safety needs over belongingness needs, belongbegan his college journey by attending City College of New ingness needs over esteem needs, and esteem needs. The York, and later transferred to Cornell University, before needs, in turn, form the first four components of the pyragoing back to City College of New York. After realizing a mid, and are addressed as deficit needs. Self-actualization, keen interest in psychology, he moved to Wisconsin, where the fifth component, addresses the need of being, which he studied at the University of Wisconsin. Throughout defines one’s own place in the universe. the 1930s, Maslow earned his BA, MA and PhD.1 Later, When an individual does not have enough of something, he returned to New York, where he not only taught full he or she has a deficit, ultimately creating what Maslow has...
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