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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs revisited


I can see it's been over a month since I posted here - and that wasn't a very long post either!

So - I mentioned in the last post an article about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Apparently, some researchers have changed this - replacing 'self-actualizsation' with 'parenting' and 'having a mate'.

I find this rather problematic - it implies that the highest level that you can achieve as a person in society to to parent a child - and also be in a relationship.

I'd rather that we have values such as nurturing or having connections to others at the top of the pyramid.

I know many single people who lead happy and fulfilling lives - and many child-free people too. And although I'm sure that the researchers don't mean to imply that single and/or child-free people aren't just as fulfilled, how they've placed parenting and being in an intimate relationship at the top of this pyramid certainly implies this. What do you think?


Pandor42 said...

On the concept of being useful to society, having a child is definitely high, if not top, on the list. Being single and nurturing is not contributing to society; you aren't directly influencing the future with your own genes. Only on that fact do I agree.

931dm said...

Oh, dear. I think it's certainly misguided to claim that parenting and marriage are the be-all and end-all of happiness. I have read many great research papers and books on happiness. From them, it quickly becomes clear that happiness has very little to do with anything that can be quantified in a "check box" kind of way. Achievements - work, home or otherwise - are merely belt notches and don't in themselves contribute to well-being.

I actually like "self-actualization" better because it is non-specific and flexible to a great many goals and needs. It says: do what you want, and be happy doing it! Not so much hedonism as good psychological health practice, in my opinion. Promoting ONE particular life outcome - cisgender, heterosexual, patriarchally oriented, heteronormative, monogamous, pronatalist - among countless many as the "peak" of human existence is simple minded beyond belief.