Friday, April 24, 2009

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs

I'm currently reading Abraham Maslow's book "Toward a Psychology of Being" and will soon be putting up a bunch of posts about ideas from it which I think are really interesting. To start though, I think it would be helpful to give a little information on his "Hierarchy of Needs"

Abraham Maslow was a psychologist in the mid 1900s who was interested in human motivation. He came up with a "Hierarchy of Needs" to explain what needs people are motivated by. He believed that needs could be organized into levels, and that as lowest level needs were satisfied, higher level needs would emerge into consciousness (Maslow, 1943).

The levels he organized human needs into were:

1. Physiological needs are the lowest level, they are basically making sure there is enough oxygen, water, and nutrients in the body, and that the body temperature is maintained. Sex is also included in the physiological needs.

2. Safety is the need to be free from danger.

3. Love needs are the needs to feel love and a sense of belonging.

4. Esteem needs contain the need to be respected by oneself and others. They are the needs to do great things and to be great.

5. Self-Actualization is the need to "be all that you can be" to test limits and to explore and grow to your full potential.

Making sense of the Hierarchy:

Maslow's Hierarchy just means that people, first off, are motivated to stay alive. Then, when a person has taken care of making sure they are alive, they will be motivated to find love and respect. And only after a person is alive, loved and respected will they really be motivated to find out how much they can really do, and how far they can really go.

Maslow, A. (1943). A theory of Motivation. Retrieved 4/24/09 from

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ego, Id, Superego

Psychoanalysis can be summed up in two words: unconscious conflict.

Freud's theory was that our "Id" and our "Superego" are constantly giving us conflicting unconscious messages, and that the "Ego" is the conscious aspect of our mind that negotiates this conflict, and helps us get our needs met in the world.

-The Id is like an Animal, it's concerned with our basic needs- Survival and Reproduction. It is our drive to get these needs met, and it doesn't care how this happens.

-The Superego is like a Judge, it's concerned with the "law", what's right and wrong. It's our conscience, telling us the way things should happen.

-And then there's the Ego, which is mostly conscious. It's our way of figuring out how to get our needs met while following our rules.

The whole thing is like a parent with two children, one who can only say "yes" and the other who can only say "no", and the parent is stuck with the tricky job of trying to figure out how to deal with the conflict and reach some sort of a compromise, which is why when your boss pisses you off, you mutter under your breath on the way back to your desk instead of punching him in the face then and there.

The Spirit of Pages to Come

This is just a simple, no-nonsense introduction. My name is Dan, and I'm a student of Psychology. I got my B.A. from the University of Michigan, and am currently working on a Ph.D. at the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute in southern California. I know it can be hard to sort through complicated psychological theories... I've been dealing with them in my education for years, but people have always told me I've had a talent for taking them down to the core ideas, and presenting them in a simple way that really makes sense of them, so that's what I'm going to be doing here... taking long, complicated formulations and making it so that anyone can understand them.

Whether you're a serious student of psychology or a person who just wants to understand it just a little bit more clearly, this is for you.