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  • Writer's pictureRachel Zvirgzdins-Scott

Human Needs & Survival Psychology

Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs is a psychological theory developed by Abraham Maslow in the mid-20th century. It categorizes human needs into a pyramid with five levels, arranged in order of importance from the base to the top:


Physiological Needs: These are the most basic needs for survival, including air, water, food, shelter, and sleep. Without satisfying these needs, a person cannot function effectively.


Safety Needs: Once physiological needs are met, individuals seek safety and security. This includes physical safety, financial stability, and protection from harm.


Love and Belongingness Needs: After safety, people have a need for social connections, love, and a sense of belonging. This involves relationships, friendship, and intimacy.


Esteem Needs: Esteem needs encompass self-esteem and the desire for respect and recognition from others. This includes achievements, status, and reputation.


Self-Actualization Needs: At the top of the pyramid, self-actualization represents the desire for personal growth, creativity, and achieving one's full potential.




Now, relating this to survival psychology and preparedness:


Survival psychology is the study of how people react and adapt to extreme situations, including natural disasters and traumatic experiences. It's closely tied to Maslow's hierarchy because it focuses on ensuring that the most fundamental needs (physiological and safety) are met in emergency situations.


Physiological Needs: Preparedness involves having supplies like food, water, first aid, and shelter provisions ready for emergencies. Ensuring these essentials are available can help individuals and communities endure challenging circumstances.


Safety Needs: Preparedness includes creating plans and procedures for safety during disasters, like evacuation routes, communication strategies, and emergency contacts. This addresses the need for security during a crisis.


By addressing these foundational needs through preparedness measures, individuals and communities can enhance their ability to respond to traumatic experiences and natural disasters effectively.


It provides a sense of control and stability during chaotic times, which can significantly reduce stress and anxiety, allowing individuals to focus on higher-level needs such as love and belongingness, esteem, and even self-actualization as they recover and rebuild after a disaster.

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