Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Maslow in Action

Day Two

I had a Maslow moment recently, in other words--I had stress hives, so the best topic for coming down is Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs because my biggest peeve has got to be stupid sex. You know how in a "hot" rs, where the hero and heroine are running from the villain and the bullets are flying, and they stop for a quickie? That's stupid sex.

While romantic suspense is a fantasy, it's got to make some kind of sense.

Back in the sixties and seventies, Abraham Maslow--who, to my surprise, I never knew about--did a lot of research into what I think should be standardized knowledge for writers of all sorts. In his hierarchy of needs, he covers how our needs both define and control us.

...to take his words almost verbatim--one of the many interesting things Maslow noticed was that some needs take precedence over others. For example, if you are hungry and thirsty, you will tend to try to take care of the thirst first, because you can do without food for weeks, but you can only do without water for a couple of days. Thirst is a “stronger” need than hunger. Likewise, if you are thirsty, but someone puts a choke hold on you and you can’t breath--breathing is more important, and although it's still a physiological need--sex is less powerful than any of these.

Think about the last time you had to use the toilet--if you're stuck in traffic, suddenly you're obsessed about off-ramps and clean restrooms. The hot guy in the car next to you is simply in the way.


The physiological needs. Oxygen, water, protein, salt, sugar, calcium, and other minerals and vitamins. Also the need to maintain a pH balance (getting too acidic or base will kill you) and temperature (98.6 or near to it). To be active, to rest, to sleep, to get rid of wastes (CO2, sweat, urine, and feces), to avoid pain, and to have sex.

Safety and security When the physiological needs are taken care of, this is the second layer. Safety, stability, protection. Structure, order, and some limits.

In other words, once you have what you need to survive--you start to worry.

Love and belonging When physiological needs and safety needs are taken care of, a third layer starts to show up. Friends, lovers, children, affectionate relationships in general, community.

Or--maybe just loneliness and social anxieties, lol.

Esteem Maslow says there are two kinds of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, status, fame, glory, recognition, attention, reputation, appreciation, dignity, maybe dominance. The higher need is the need for self-respect, including confidence, competence, achievement, mastery, independence, and freedom.

The thing about this pyramid is that you can't try for self-respect--and you sure can't have confidence, if all your other needs aren't being met. If you "don't" have something from each of the lower levels, you have a deficit--or in other words, you're going to need whatever it is to move on. Needs must be satisfied in the given order

Motivation is what drives you to get whatever you're missing.

Under stressful conditions, when survival is threatened, we regress to a lower level--the hero and heroine dodging bullets aren't going to be thinking sex when their bodies are thinking breathing. Even within levels, certain needs are dominant.

If you are hungry, you scramble to get food. If you are unsafe, you stay on guard. If you are isolated and unloved, you need to satisfy that need. If you have a low sense of self-esteem, you're defensive or overcompensate. Lower needs--like the need for love and sex, definitely drive a story, but not at the expense of lower, but dominant needs.


Anonymous said...

That's true, but it's also true that now and then the wires get crossed. It's a fact that more babies are born 9 months after a power outage.

jodi said...

lol, Alice. Sex in the dark. O.o

Kaige said...

Not much else to do, I guess. And then there's the 9 months after soldiers come home: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/16/america/babies.php

Good old Maslow. I first encountered him in one of my business classes I can't think of the title. There's been a lot of argument over him lately and if he's relevant, but I think it's a good a model as any to explain the way the majority of human nature acts and reacts.

Hope the hives have been chased away with calming thoughts. *hugs* Been thinking about you this week even if I haven't been typing much.

jodi said...

the hives are much better, thank you. :)

Or at least--under control. And that's a good thing. I couldn't think when I was scratching.

deanna said...

Thanks for more helpful bits. In movies I think they try to make a lull, like, hey the monster's twenty miles away, so of course we feel safe because he can't catch us for two hours, so let's have sex.

Right. ;o)