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Maslow’s Theory of Needs Abraham Maslow, known as the Father of Humanistic Psychology, came up with the idea of what constitutes positive well-being. He developed a theory of needs and gratification. Maslow is most recognized by most people for his theory of the hierarchy of needs. The theory is mostly displayed in the form a pyramid, making it simple to understand. Though easy to understand his ideas do go in depth. The hierarchy of needs is widely referenced to almost all theories of nursing and practice today.

The pyramid can be used as the most simple yet most useful plan of care. Abraham Maslow was born on April 1 1908, became a psychologist in 1931 when he received his masters degree in psychology. He later became a colleague under Sigmund Freud’s in 1934. It was during this time that most of his own work was being researched and developed between the years 1937-1951. He wrote on the subjects of the hierarchy of needs, self-actualization, metaneeds, and peak experiences. He died in 1967 from a heart attack but he and his work are regarded as a great pioneer to psychology.

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The hierarchy of needs is a theory of needs in which the means to the end is self-actualization. But what is a need, and what needs is Maslow referring to? His theory begins with the most primitive basic needs as living organisms, to the most complex as a species of self-awareness, language, rational and logical thinking, referring to us human beings. In order to live we must strive for the basic needs in life such as air, food, water, sex, homeostasis, and excretion.

Once those needs are met with gratification, then can we move on to the next necessities of more complexity such as love, safety, self-esteem and self-actualization. These needs though must be met with gratification, Maslow states that if we don’t obtain these needs with gratification then we glutton over them without satisfaction. To understand this more, if needs were not properly met, it is the equivalent of trying to fill up a barrel of water when there is a hole in it. This goes into his studies of lower and higher needs and gratifications.

The pyramid of the hierarchy of needs is a summary of his ideas of humanistic needs. An image of the pyramid will be displayed and attached to this document. At the base of the pyramid are primitive physiological needs. If we cannot breathe we cannot live, if we are not fed or unable to find food or water we will starve, and if we can’t live to see the next sunrise we cannot accomplish the next step. In present time where we are satisfied with the most basic needs to live, we look for safety and shelter so that we may continue to fulfill our basic needs every day.

As a social creatures, when we know we have safety within our own means we seek out a sense of belonging and love such as family, friends, a partner in life, here is where our psychological needs are strived for. Having a healthy accomplishment these needs then leads us into the next step of having self-esteem. Having self-esteem is looking to be respected by others and having respect for others, this is companied by our confidence. The last step in our fulfillment is self-actualization, here we come to acceptance of ourselves being content and exploring our creativity and development of moralities.

The two last steps are steps that a lot of people have the most trouble of ever accomplishing. Without the base and previous steps accomplished we cannot go on to the next. Thus, like any pyramid built today, it is built step by step. The hierarchy of need is a great understanding and guide for patient care. Describing these steps of needs one can get imagine how Maslow’s ideas can relate to each case you’ve encountered in patient care. Patients come to us seeking mental and physiological needs that they cannot accomplish themselves.

Either by sickness or in life struggles a lot of us will come to a point where we are as defenseless as a baby. When we think of doctors and nurses the first pictures in our minds are physical health problems that we fix. Though I may share the same idea we can all agree that our first and for most priority is to maintain the physiological health of our patients. We make sure they are eating or being replenished with nutrients and water, we monitor their breathing and sleep with all the efforts to better them.

Maintaining homeostasis is our first goal to ensure the safety our sick. Assisting their well-being offers them a place and a sense of security, knowing they are with providers where they know they are being helped, and their basic needs are met, and will not falter. When the patient feels safe, healthy positive relationships can form or be replenished by family, friends, partners, and even healthcare providers. The sense of belonging that was once lost with the sickness.

There we give them the most vital and important bases in our lives through our care as nurses. This picture of the pyramid of the hierarchy of needs is worth more than a thousand words that I have summarized in this presentation. But with limited time I can only wish that I had more time to get deeper into detail about Maslow’s theory of needs. In my studies I refer to his work every day and in our practice we do so as well, even if you don’t recognize it. Not only is it good information for our practices, it is good for us to recognize our own needs as well.

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