Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow

The classic definition and “hierarchy” put forth by Abraham Maslow in his 1954 book, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs1, have since been put into dispute1. However a preponderance of those disputes isn’t on his concept of what a need is, or on his system of categorization (his “hierarchy”), it’s mainly on his egocentricity and his gender bias.

There have been several researchers who have indeed called the actual need for a “hierarchy of needs” into question2. I agree. A “Hierarchy” is both linear as well as being based on a series of dependencies.

I prefer to dig a little deeper … hence my “lowerarchy”. Not to place any negativity on Maslow. His concepts and ideas were a good first step in thinking about, and documenting human need. It’s time to go further.

I have several issues with Maslow’s model. I’ll address these in various posts. However, one of my strongest objections to Maslow and his limited view of human needs is the fact that we all have many, many needs these can fall into many, many “categories”. One of my favorite categories is what I refer to as “Dysfunctional Needs” or “Unhealthy Needs”. Maslow DID NOT address these needs at all. Yet how many of us do things to meet needs that are not in our best interests? I would say each and every one of us (your author included 😉 These are the unhealthy needs we all have. I’ll address this category in several of my blog posts.

Another series of concepts about needs, still based primarily on the Maslow model states that there are four basic human needs. We’ve all heard them of course: air, food, clothing, water. Everything else is called a “want”. This archaic and simplistic idea of human need trivializes and discounts many important needs we have (including “Dysfunctional Needs” mentioned above). So unless you’re a guy named “Bear” out trying to survive in the wilderness without the comforts of modern society, this idea does little to help us understand, and deal with why we do the things we do. This understanding is another important part of this blog.

This concept, still taught in many schools is wholly lacking. Here are a few good [extreme] examples: “If I don’t take my medication I will die.” (need or want or both?) “I’ve gotten so many speeding tickets, I now NEED to go to traffic school. I certainly don’t WANT to go there, but I NEED to. If I don’t I’ll find myself in a very uncomfortable situation”. If we as humans don’t reproduce, there won’t be too many folks to support the remainder of us in 50-75 years (need or want or both?) “I need surgery on my hip to eliminate the daily pain. I certainly don’t WANT the surgery.” “My teenage son needs to take school classes he dislikes. He tells me he (in no uncertain terms), he DOES NOT ‘want’ them.”

Note: he also doesn’t “need” them.

His parents really have those “perceived” needs and are projecting them onto their son,

but that’s a topic for another day.

See my post on Needs and Wants


1 By Source, Fair use,

2 Ibid, “Criticism”

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