Page 2

The concept of self-actualization and the transcendent values, which include justice, beauty, meaningfulness, and wholeness, provide a blueprint for a better world.

the only way to fully self-actualize is, paradoxically, by getting outside of one’s self.

our deepest, most unanswered needs: connection, meaning, love, transcendence, and self-realization

Many of the substantive issues humanistic psychology fought for in the middle part of the last century are now at the very core of modern psychology, regardless of your approach or orientation.

Page 3

living a good life—not a fixed state of being, but an ongoing process that encourages creativity, challenge, and meaning.

Page 9

a purely intrapsychic, individualistic psychology, without reference to other people and social conditions, is not adequate

healthy self-realization is actually a bridge to transcendence

self-actualizing people experienced frequent moments of transcendence in which awareness was expanded beyond the self, and many of them were motivated by higher values

these individuals had a deep sense of who they were and what they wanted to contribute to the world

How could so many of his self-actualizing individuals simultaneously have such a strong identity and actualization of their potential, yet also be so selfless?

self-actualization seems to be a “transitional goal, a rite of passage, a step along the path to the transcendence of identity. This is like saying its function is to erase itself.

Page 10

Self-actualization … paradoxically makes more possible the transcendence of self, and of self-consciousness and of selfishness.

self-actualization makes it easier to merge as a part of a larger whole.

The fully developed (and very fortunate) human being working under the best conditions tends to be motivated by values which transcend his self.

That’s weird—that I should be enabled to perceive, accept, & enjoy the eternity & preciousness of the non-me world just because I became aware of my own mortality. The “being able to enjoy” is puzzling.

the awareness of his mortality actually heightened his own personal experience of transcendence

During the last few years of his life, Maslow was working on a series of exercises to transcend the ego and live more regularly in the “B-realm”—the realm of “pure Being.” He was also working on a comprehensive psychology and philosophy of human nature and society.

Page 11

to help people reach their full potential, we need to take into account the whole person

Page 12

the more we have limiting notions of potential that are dictated by others (schoolteachers, parents, managers, etc.), the more blind we become to the full potential of each and every unique individual and their own unique path to self-actualization and transcendence.

we all have extraordinary creative, humanitarian, and spiritual possibilities but are often alienated from them because we are so focused on a very narrow slice of who we are. As a result, we aren’t fulfilling our full potential. We spend so much time looking outward for validation that we don’t develop the incredible strengths that already lie within, and we rarely take the time to fulfill our deepest needs in the most growth-oriented and integrated fashion.

so many people today are striving for “transcendence” without a healthy integration of their other needs—to the detriment of their full potential.

While there is a yearning to be part of a larger political or religious ideology, the realization of this yearning is often built on hate and hostility for the “other,” rather than on pride and deep commitment for a cause that can better humanity. In essence, there is a lot of pseudo-transcendence going on, resting on a “very shaky foundation.”

The integration of a wide variety of perspectives is necessary for a more complete understanding of the full depths of human potential, as too much focus on a single perspective runs the risk of giving a distorted view of human nature.

the best way to move toward greater growth and transcendence is not by ignoring the inevitability of human suffering but by integrating everything that is within you. This requires penetrating the depths of your being with piercing awareness with the intent of experiencing the full richness of human existence. This is very much in line with Maslow’s call for a “Being-Psychology,” which incorporates a full understanding of human needs that transcends the “psychopathology of the average” but also “incorporate[s] all its findings in a more inclusive and comprehensive structure which includes both the sick and the healthy, both deficiency, Becoming and Being.”

there is an art of being. But now there is also a science of being.

Page 14

those who are reaching the full heights of their humanity tend to possess the characteristics most of us seek in life; they tend to be altruistic, creative, open, authentic, accepting, independent, and brave. However, Maslow did not prescribe that one must be this way. Instead, it was his belief that if society can create the conditions to satisfy one’s basic needs—including the freedom to speak honestly and openly, to grow and develop one’s unique capacities and passions, and to live in societies with fairness and justice—what naturally and organically emerges tends to be the characteristics that resemble the best in humanity.

Maslow viewed the role of the teacher, therapist, and parent as horticulturists, whose task is to “enable people to become healthy and effective in their own style.

“we try to make a rose into a good rose, rather than seek to change roses into lilies… . It necessitates a pleasure in the self-actualization of a person who may be quite different from yourself. It even implies an ultimate respect and acknowledgement of the sacredness and uniqueness of each kind of person.”

“Being-Psychology”—a field that involves the systematic investigation of ends rather than means—end-experiences (such as wonder, laughter, and connection), end-values (such as beauty, truth, and justice), end-cognitions (such as efficient perception of reality and newness of appreciation), end-goals (such as having an ultimate concern or purpose), and with treating people as ends unto themselves, not means to an end (what Maslow referred to as “Being-Love,” or “B-Love” for short).

“positive psychology” or “orthopsychology”—was in response to a psychology focused more on “not-having rather than having,” “striving rather than fulfillment,” “frustration rather than gratification,” “seeking joy rather than having attained joy,” and “trying to get there rather than being there.”

Page 15

Eventually, the Third Force psychologists became known as the “humanistic psychologists,” and the field was officially created when Maslow and Anthony Sutich launched The Journal of Humanistic Psychology in 1961. Today, there exist a number of psychotherapists and researchers explicitly working within the humanistic psychology tradition (many of them refer to themselves as “existential-humanistic” psychotherapists)

Within the humanistic psychology framework, the healthy personality is considered one that constantly moves toward freedom, responsibility, self-awareness, meaning, commitment, personal growth, maturity, integration, and change, rather than one that predominantly strives for status, achievement, or even happiness.

Today, humanistic psychologists and positive psychologists share a desire to understand and foster healthy motivation and healthy living

The following thirteen sources of well-being have been rigorously studied over the past forty years, and each one can be reached in your own style

More positive emotions

Fewer negative emotions

Vitality (a positive subjective sense of physical health and energy)

Life satisfaction (a positive subjective evaluation of one’s life overall)

Environmental mastery (the ability to shape environments to suit one’s needs and desires; to feel in control of one’s life; to not feel overwhelmed by the demands and responsibilities of everyday life)

Positive relationships


Mastery (feelings of competence in accomplishing challenging tasks; a sense of effectiveness in accomplishing important goals one has set for oneself)


Personal growth

Engagement in life

Purpose and meaning in life (a sense that one’s life matters, is valuable, and is worth living; a clear sense of direction and meaning in one’s efforts; a connection to something greater than oneself)

Transcendent experiences (experiences of awe, flow, inspiration, and gratitude in daily life)

Note that many of these sources of well-being go beyond stereotypical notions of happiness. Becoming fully human is about living a full existence, not one that is continually happy. Being well is not always about feeling good; it also involves continually incorporating more meaning, engagement, and growth in one’s life—key themes in humanistic psychology.

I believe the new hierarchy of needs can serve as a useful organizing framework for the field of psychology as well as a useful guide for your own personal journey of health, growth, and transcendence.

Page 16

While rarely acknowledged as one, Maslow was actually a developmental psychologist at heart.

Maslow emphasized that we are always in a state of becoming and that one’s “inner core” consists merely of “potentialities, not final actualizations”

Maslow made it clear that human maturation is an ongoing process and that growth is “not a sudden, salatory phenomenon” but is often two steps forward and one step back.

An underdiscussed aspect of Maslow’s theory is that his hierarchy of needs serves as an organizing framework for different states of mind—ways of looking at the world and at others. Maslow argued that, when deprived, each need is associated with its own distinctive world outlook, philosophy, and outlook on the future

Another peculiar characteristic of the human organism when it is dominated by a certain need is that the whole philosophy of the future tends also to change. For our chronically and extremely hungry man, Utopia can be defined simply as a place where there is plenty of food.

Life itself tends to be defined in terms of eating. Anything else will be defined as unimportant.

most people “are partially satisfied in all their basic needs and partially unsatisfied in all their basic needs at the same time.”

“any behavior tends to be determined by several or all of the basic needs simultaneously rather than by only one of them,” and that any one of us at any moment in time can return to a particular state of mind depending on the deprivation of the need.

[The human needs] are arranged in an integrated hierarchy rather than dichotomously, that is, they rest one upon another… . This means that the process of regression to lower needs remains always as a possibility, and in this context must be seen not only as pathological or sick, but as absolutely necessary to the integrity of the whole organism, and as prerequisite to the existence and functioning of the ‘higher needs.

The English humanistic psychotherapist John Rowan used the analogy of Russian nesting dolls to illustrate Maslow’s notion of an integrated hierarchy: each larger doll includes all the smaller dolls but also transcends them.

Once we are working on our highest purpose, for instance, our needs for safety, connection, or self-esteem don’t vanish; instead, they become integrated with our more transcendent purpose. When the whole person is well-integrated, all of their basic needs are not merely met but work together to facilitate growth toward realizing their highest goals and values.

Another implication here is that if you try to grow too soon without a healthy integration of your insecurities and deprivations, the growth is less likely to reach its full height.

we are continually returning to our basic needs to draw strength, learn from our hardships, and work toward greater integration of our whole being.

Page 17

Maslow never actually created a pyramid to represent his hierarchy of needs.

“Maslow’s Pyramid” was actually created by a management consultant in the sixties. From there, it quickly became popular in the emerging field of organization behavior.

the pyramid resonated with the “prevailing [post-war] ideologies of individualism, nationalism and capitalism in America and justified a growing managerialism in bureaucratic (i.e., layered triangular) formats.

Unfortunately, the continual reproduction of the pyramid in management textbooks had the unfortunate consequence of reducing Maslow’s rich and nuanced intellectual contributions to a parody and has betrayed the actual spirit of Maslow’s notion of self-actualization as realizing one’s creative potential for humanitarian ends.

Maslow acknowledged that not only can our basic needs ebb and flow in salience across a person’s lifetime, but there can also be significant cultural and individual differences in the order in which people satisfy their basic needs.

“People are ‘self-actualizing’ all over the place.”

Addressing real structural inequalities around the world is absolutely essential to giving everyone opportunities to self-actualize and transcend, but this does not mean that people must wait to work toward a deeper sense of fulfillment until more security-related needs are met. We can work on multiple needs simultaneously.

Even within a society, people differ in what needs they are most motivated to pursue due to a combination of temperament and environmental experiences.

And even within individuals, our needs are likely to change in importance as we mature and develop. Again, the key here is change and growth.

While the precise ordering of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has shown to vary by culture, from person to person, and even within a person’s own lifetime, there is one core aspect of Maslow’s hierarchy that has stood up remarkably well to modern scientific scrutiny.

Maslow argued that all the needs can be grouped into two main classes of needs, which must be integrated for wholeness: deficiency and growth.

Deficiency needs, which Maslow referred to as “D-needs,” are motivated by a lack of satisfaction, whether it’s the lack of food, safety, affection, belonging, or self-esteem. The “D-realm” of existence colors all of our perceptions and distorts reality, making demands on a person’s whole being: “Feed me! Love me! Respect me!”

The greater the deficiency of these needs, the more we distort reality to fit our expectations and treat others in accordance with their usefulness in helping us satisfy our most deficient needs. In the D-realm, we are also more likely to use a variety of defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from the pain of having such deficiency in our lives. Our defenses are quite “wise” in the sense that they can help us to avoid unbearable pain that can feel like too much to bear at the moment.

Page 18

growth needs—such as self-actualization and transcendence—have a very different sort of wisdom associated with them. Distinguishing between “defensive-wisdom” and “growth-wisdom,” Maslow argued that the Being-Realm of existence (or B-realm, for short) is like replacing a clouded lens with a clear one. Instead of being driven by fears, anxieties, suspicions, and the constant need to make demands on reality, one is more accepting and loving of oneself and others. Seeing reality more clearly, growth-wisdom is more about “What choices will lead me to greater integration and wholeness?” rather than “How can I defend myself so that I can feel safe and secure?”

From an evolutionary point of view, it makes sense that our safety and security concerns, as well as our desires for short-lived hedonic pleasures, would make greater demands on our attention than our desire to grow as a whole person.

All that our genes “care” about is getting propagated into the next generation, no matter the cost to the development of the whole person. If this involves narrowing our worldview and causing us to have outsize reactions to the world that aren’t actually in line with reality, so be it.

However, such a narrowing of worldview runs the risk of inhibiting a fuller understanding of the world and ourselves. Despite the many challenges to growth, Maslow believed we are all capable of self-actualization, even if most of us do not self-actualize because we spend most of our lives motivated by deficiency.

There is a general consensus that optimal functioning of the whole system (whether humans, primates, or machines) requires both stability of goal pursuit in the face of distraction and disruption as well as the capacity for flexibility to adapt and explore the environment.

The human condition isn’t a competition; it’s an experience. Life isn’t a trek up a summit but a journey to travel through—a vast blue ocean, full of new opportunities for meaning and discovery but also danger and uncertainty. In this choppy surf, a clunky pyramid is of little use. Instead, what is needed is something a bit more functional. We’ll need a sailboat.

While even one plank is better than nothing, the bigger the boat, the more waves you can endure. Likewise in life, while safety is an essential foundation for feeling secure, adding on strong connections with others and feelings of respect and worthiness will further allow you to weather the storms.

Page 19

Note that you don’t “climb” a sailboat like you’d climb a mountain or a pyramid. Instead, you open your sail, just like you’d drop your defenses once you felt secure enough. This is an ongoing dynamic: you can be open and spontaneous one minute but can feel threatened enough to prepare for the storm by closing yourself to the world the next minute. The more you continually open yourself to the world, however, the further your boat will go and the more you can benefit from the people and opportunities around you. And if you’re truly fortunate, you can even enter ecstatic moments of peak experience—where you are really catching the wind. In these moments, not only have you temporarily forgotten your insecurities, but you are growing so much that you are helping to raise the tide for all the other sailboats simply by making your way through the ocean. In this way, the sailboat isn’t a pinnacle but a whole vehicle, helping us to explore the world and people around us, growing and transcending as we do.

The needs that comprise the boat itself are safety, connection, and self-esteem. These three needs work as a whole dynamic system, and the severe thwarting of any aspect of the whole can have profound effects on the rest of the system. Under good conditions, the security needs work together to spiral upward toward greater security and stability, but under unfavorable conditions, they can lead to profound insecurity and instability—causing us to get stuck in our journey as we focus our attention on defending ourselves. Unfortunately, too many people get caught up in insecurity throughout their lives, and stay there, missing out on the immense beauty in the world that is still left to explore and the possibilities for their own self-actualization and, ultimately, transcendence.

The sail represents growth.

exploration, love, and purpose. I believe that these three needs capture the essence of how Maslow really conceptualized self-actualization. Further, I believe these three needs cannot be reduced to the security needs, or completely reduced to one another (although they can build on one another). These three needs work together synergistically to help us grow as a whole person. Under favorable conditions, the satisfaction of these needs helps us move toward greater health, wholeness, and transcendence. Under unfavorable conditions, we become preoccupied with safety and security and neglect our possibilities for growth.

At the base of growth is the spirit of exploration, the fundamental biological drive that all growth needs to have as its foundation. Exploration is the desire to seek out and make sense of novel, challenging, and uncertain events.

While security is primarily concerned with defense and protection, exploration is primarily motivated by curiosity, discovery, openness, expansion, understanding, and the creation of new opportunities for growth and development. The other needs that comprise growth—love and purpose—can build on the fundamental need for exploration to reach higher levels of integration within oneself and to contribute something meaningful to the world.

I believe the drive for exploration is the core motive underlying self-actualization and cannot be completely reduced to any of the other needs, including our evolved drives for affiliation, status, parenting, and mates.

the hierarchy of needs can be built on an evolutionary foundation, I believe the need for exploration deserves a place at the evolutionary table all on its own.

at the top of the new hierarchy of needs is the need for transcendence, which goes beyond individual growth (and even health and happiness) and allows for the highest levels of unity and harmony within oneself and with the world. Transcendence, which rests on a secure foundation of both security and growth, is a perspective in which we can view our whole being from a higher vantage point with acceptance, wisdom, and a sense of connectedness with the rest of humanity.

Page 20

not every goal that satisfies a human being has any direct connection to evolutionary fitness.

There is this freedom to select various goals and to invent new goals. We can certainly tie them back to certain evolved motives, but you can’t just list the individual’s evolved adaptations and from there be able to figure out what the range of human beings’ possible behaviors is going to be. We have to be able to give people the freedom to choose from a very large menu of possible goals and pursuits and, even more than that, freedom to invent new ones.

In The Sane Society, Erich Fromm argued that the human condition involves the fundamental tension between our common nature with other animals and our uniquely developed capacities for self-awareness, reason, and imagination.

Page 21

“Even though you’re alone in your boat, it’s always comforting to see the lights of the other boats bobbing nearby.”

four “givens of existence” that Yalom argues all humans must reconcile

Death: the inherent tension between wanting to continue to exist and self-actualize and the inevitability of perishing,

Freedom: the inherent conflict between the seeming randomness of the universe and the heavy burden of responsibility that comes with the freedom to choose one’s own destiny,

Isolation: the inherent tension between, on the one hand, wanting to connect deeply and profoundly with other human beings and be part of a larger whole and, on the other hand, never fully being able to do so, always remaining existentially alone, and

Meaninglessness: the tension between being thrown into an indifferent universe that often seems to have no inherent meaning and yet wanting to find some sort of purpose for our own individual existence in the incomprehensibly short time we live on the planet.

the new hierarchy of needs is not only a theory of human nature but is ultimately a theory of human existence.

I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a man’s life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.

“No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!” … It is … an agonizing, hazardous undertaking thus to dig into oneself, to climb down roughly and directly into the tunnels of one’s being.

the good life that I present, which is deeply grounded in the core principles of humanistic psychology and a realistic understanding of human needs, is about the healthy expression of needs in the service of discovering and expressing a self that works best for you.

Page 22

The good life is not something you will ever achieve. It’s a way of living.

This process won’t always bring feelings of happiness, contentment, and bliss, and it may even sometimes cause pain and heartache.

it requires continually stretching outside your comfort zone as you realize more and more of your potentialities and launch yourself “fully into the stream of life.”

it takes a lot of courage to become the best version of yourself.

grow in precisely the direction you truly want to grow, in your own style, and in such a way that allows you to show the universe that you really existed, and benefited others, while you were here.

Page 24

“crystallizing experience”—a memorable, dramatic moment in which we make contact with stimuli that just clicks and makes us think “Aha—that’s me!

Folkways inspired Maslow to have an appreciation for cultural influences on behavior. But it also inspired him to appreciate the potent driving force of human needs. Because the pattern of environmental contingencies differs from one society to another, different societies develop different folkways for meeting the same fundamental needs.

Every moment brings necessities which must be satisfied at once. Need was the first experience, and it was followed at once by a blundering effort to satisfy it… . The method is that of trial and failure, which produces repeated pain, loss, and disappointments. Nevertheless, it is a method of rude experience and selection. The earliest efforts of man were of this kind. Need was the impelling force.

Maslow was particularly impressed with the general lack of crime, violence, jealousy, and greed among the Blackfoot, along with their high levels of emotional security, firm yet caring child-rearing practices, community feeling, egalitarianism, and generous spirit. In fact, Maslow believed that the Blackfoot Indians scored so high on his tests of emotional security precisely because of their societal structure and community spirit.

“wealth was not important in terms of accumulating property and possessions: giving it away was what brought one the true status of prestige and security in the tribe.”

he learned quite a bit about the First Nations perspective, including the importance of community, gratitude for what one has, and giving back to future generations.

Page 25

It would seem that every human being comes at birth into society not as a lump of clay to be molded by society, but rather as a structure which society may warp or suppress or build upon. My fundamental data supporting this feeling is that my Indians were first human beings and secondly Blackfoot Indians, and also that in their society I found almost the same range of personalities as I find in our society—with, however, very different modes in the distribution curves… . I am now struggling with a notion of a “fundamental” [or] “natural” personality structure.

human beings are at birth and today deep down, secure and with good self-esteem, to be analogized with the Blackfoot Indian or the chimpanzee or the baby or the secure adult. And then societies do something to this Natural Personality, twist it, shape it, repress it

cultural folkways should not be evaluated as universally “good” or “bad” but should be understood based on their adaptive value—their effectiveness in satisfying an impelling need. Likewise, Maslow believed that humans are basically good but that life’s pressures and frustrations make them seem otherwise.

“People are all decent underneath. All that is necessary to prove this is to find out what the motives are for their superficial behavior—nasty, mean, or vicious though that behavior may be. Once these motives are understood, it is impossible to resent the behavior that follows.”

Maslow argued that everything that is “nasty, mean, or vicious” is an overcompensatory attempt to satisfy the basic needs of security, affection, and self-esteem.

people are good, if only their fundamental wishes are satisfied, their wishes for affection and security. Give people affection and security, and they will give affection and be secure in their feelings and behavior.

The common core of this cycle is fear. Whatever the particular form it takes, some sort of fear pervades the deprivation of each of the needs that comprise this cycle.

If you have too many psychological fears, this may be an indication that you may be too caught up in securing your boat, with potentially serious consequences to actually moving along the expansive ocean.

curb your insecurities, so that you can stand on as secure a foundation as possible and really focus on the things that give you the greatest meaning, growth, and creativity in your life.

Page 26

we have created a societal narrative around health and wellness that essentially inverts Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, placing self-actualization as a viable alternative to these fundamentals, instead of something that is built on a strong foundation of safety and security.

“We are focusing on the tip of Maslow’s pyramid at the clear expense of its base.”

the need for the most fundamental needs to be met in order for one to even have the opportunity to realize their full potential.

The need for safety, and its accompanying needs for stability, certainty, predictability, coherence, continuity, and trust in the environment, is the base upon which all the others are fulfilled.

Having a safe base allows a person to take risks and explore new ideas and ways of being, while also allowing the opportunity to become who you truly want to become. In the absence of that base, people become overly dependent on the protection, love, affection, and esteem of others, which can compromise growth, development, and meaning in life.

The need for safety is tied to a particular form of meaning in life.

coherence, purpose, and mattering

Purpose involves a motivation to realize future-oriented and valued life goals. Mattering consists of the extent to which people feel that their existence and actions in the world are significant, important, and valuable.

The need for coherence is the form of meaning that is most strongly tied to the need for safety. Does my immediate environment make sense? Is there any predictability and comprehensibility in my life? Coherence is necessary to even get a chance to pursue one’s larger purpose or pursue various ways that one can matter in this world.

“We need something to anchor our values upon, and when our lives feel incomprehensible, finding the things that make our lives worth living might be hard if not impossible.”

Page 27

There are constructive routes to coherence.

coherence is associated with greater religiosity, spirituality, and the ability to grow from trauma

But there are also more destructive routes to coherence, and the need to regain a sense of safety can lead to aggression and antagonism. Too much chaos and unpredictability pitches us into a state that psychologists call “psychological entropy.”

All biological organisms—including humans—survive insofar as they are able to effectively manage internal entropy.

In the state of psychological entropy, we experience uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety and distress.

To be sure, there will always be a certain amount of psychological entropy in our lives: we never achieve full mastery over our environment, and things we thought we could predict are constantly changing. A certain amount of stress and unpredictability is healthy and normal.

“There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity.”

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”

The ability to reduce, manage, and even embrace uncertainty is important for everyone seeking to develop the whole person. It is critical not only to health and wellness but also to survival.

Persistent fear and anxiety can have serious consequences on learning, behavior, and health.

Repeated exposure to discrimination, violence, neglect, or abuse can have lifelong consequences; they alter connections in areas of the developing brain that are particularly sensitive to stress.

Page 28

the system can’t perform the work at full capacity—can’t use all of its energy—when there is too much psychological entropy.

At various levels of biological functioning, our bodies are constantly attempting to minimize surprise—the experience of entropy and unpredictability—by adjusting the response to environmental input. If internal entropy levels become too great, we are forced to develop alternative strategies to minimize entropy and satisfy our basic needs. If nothing works, over time, the system fails to adapt and eventually deteriorates.

The more uncertainty we perceive in our lives, the more metabolic resources we waste and the more stress we experience. When internal disorder becomes too great, we are at risk of resorting to strategies that are destructive to others, not to mention to our whole selves. Our sense of possibility shrinks, and we are dominated by an exquisitely narrow repertoire of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, leaving us with diminished potential to become the person we truly want to become.

our psychological processes are deeply intertwined with our physiology. For that reason, I feel comfortable combining the physiological and safety needs that Maslow proposed. When safety needs are severely thwarted, people react in quite specific ways to restore balance, or homeostasis. Looking at human behavior through such a lens allows us to see maladaptive behavior nonjudgmentally yet gain a good understanding of our fellow humans.

Any person at any point in time could become dominated by safety needs and would likely act in a predictable fashion in accordance with fundamental principles of human nature. When safety needs are thwarted, we lose trust in others and regard people with suspicion. We can very easily turn to destructive routes in order to regain safety, such as involvement in gangs and organized crime.

Page 29

Hunger increases the motivation to work or pay for food, while it decreases motivation to work or pay for any kind of non-food reward.

British psychologist Daniel Nettle contends that some behaviors commonly seen among the economically deprived—such as impulsivity, aggression, and anxiety—result more from regular hunger deprivation than from any preexisting differences among social classes.

Life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base.

The human infant starts life as a totally helpless creature, completely dependent on a caregiver to get basic physiological needs met. Through the responsiveness and reliability of the caregiver, the infant develops a sense of security that needs will be met. At the same time, the infant develops an emotional attachment to the caregiver, and that bond provides a secure base and safe haven for the ever-growing infant to survive, deploy curiosity, and explore the environment.

British psychologist John Bowlby proposed the existence of an “attachment behavioral system” designed over the eons of human history to motivate the desire to increase proximity between caregivers and vulnerable infants, children, or adults.

Proximity-seeking behaviors, according to Bowlby, serve the function of reducing feelings of fear and anxiety and are activated when the infant feels scared or vulnerable.

we have many unconscious drives that are encoded into our system in an if/then manner

that insight is precisely what allows us to consciously override the system and take control of our automatic habits.

as children we don’t yet have the cognitive brakes of reflection that allow us to halt the attachment behavioral system.

the attachment system goes through a series of if/then questions, starting with “Is the caregiver near, attentive, and responsive?”30 If the child perceives that the answer is “yes,” she will feel loved, secure, and confident and be more likely to explore, play, and socialize with others. If the child perceives the answer to be “no,” she will experience anxiety and be more likely to show a range of behaviors designed to bring a caregiver close, including heightened vigilance and vocalizations of distress (crying).

such behaviors would continue until the child is able to establish a comfortable level of proximity to the attachment figure. And if the attachment figure failed to respond, the child would completely withdraw, as so often happens with prolonged separation or loss.

Page 30

Exquisitely attuned to how we are treated at times of stress, the attachment system keeps track of successes at obtaining proximity and comfort from attachment figures—beginning with parents but eventually expanding to friends and romantic partners.

from the physical presence of the caregiver we gradually develop mental representations, or “internal working models,” of others and of the self, which allow us to forecast the behaviors of others based on prior experiences.

Through interactions with various attachment figures over the course of our lives, we develop models of the availability and sensitivity of others to our needs, as well as views of our own goodness and worthiness of love and support. These internal working models influence the expectations and beliefs we often implicitly hold of relationships more generally.

a nine- to twelve-month-old infant comes into the lab and after getting comfortable, is briefly separated from the parent and left alone with a stranger before being reunited with the parent.

the presence of the stranger provokes anxiety in infants, causing them to look to the parent for reassurance that everything is all right. And when the parent leaves the child alone with the stranger, children show additional distress: they appear distracted in playing with their toys or they vocalize distress. When the mother returns, most children (around 62 percent) crawl toward her, seeking to reestablish comforting proximity to the familiar caregiver.

some infants (about 15 percent) are extremely distressed by the separation, but when the caregiver returns, they crawl toward her yet resist contact—arching their back, flopping around, or otherwise signaling that they are definitely not OK with being abandoned.

insecure form of attachment. The child is not able to completely regulate and restore emotional equilibrium after having been left unprotected.

“anxious-resistant attachment.”

“avoidant,” among another 25 percent of the infants. These infants are clearly distressed by the separation, but when the mother returns, they behave as if they do not really need her comfort, contact, or support. It is as if they are saying, “Whatever, I don’t need you anyway.”

It is easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable depending on them and having them depend on me. I don’t worry about being alone or having others not accept me. (Secure)

I am uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely or to depend on them. I worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others. (Fearful, or Fearful-avoidant)

Page 31

I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close a