basic human needs
It's high time we deal with this topic since our needs factor into: our everyday lives, how we relate to each other, and our individual behavior. First, i'll list out what i consider 'basic human needs' and why then later going into lesser needs but still significant.
We all need attention. We seem to crave it. It can be sexual, one-to-one, many to one, platonic, or any combination. A psychology professor at Michigan State once said "Attention is the most powerful human need. When we attend to someone, we're charging their batteries. When they attend to us, they charge ours." It's an interesting way of looking at attention. But it ignores all the nuances of attention and how our moods color perceptions of attention. Attention can be aggressive, coercive, domineering, subjugating, or any number of less negative characteristics. There are subtleties of attention which can actually dominate the interaction. For instance, if two people are flirting with each other via body language or facial cues, but are overtly concentrating on other interactions, the flirting may be actually 'hidden from view' by both participants at a conscious level. They may be, and likely are, flirting with each other subconsciously and largely pretending to be platonic. This points to the duplicitous nature of modern relationships where we try to satisfy our basic needs via socially approved interactions but find we must satisfy them in more 'natural' channels established tens of thousands of years ago. Less theoretically, we need to flirt (a kind of sexual attention), we do it with friends and people we 'have no business' flirting with - but we do it anyways because we need to. Teenage girls seem to flirt naturally, automatically, and indiscriminately. In my understanding, they're not pursuing sex (as many men might mis-read their signals) - they're pursuing attention plain and simple.
The next most powerful human need is validation: we need approval. Many times, the need for attention is intertwined with this need .. Imagine a boot camp of Marine cadets. No matter how domineering and agressive the drill-sergeant is, the inductees still need his attention. If he ignores them, it's a kind of punishment. The same goes for approval/validation. Withholding approval / validation is a kind of punishment. Children need a Lot of attention and validation. Boot camp is a kind of 'return to childhood' for men. Physically and mentally they're mature but the Marines needs to remold them into obedient loyal 'fighting machines'. They do this through careful application of attention and validation - very selectively reinforcing 'desirable behavior' and attitudes - and - punishing/ignoring the rest. Socialization of human individuals follows a very similar pattern. We need validation almost as much as we need attention. We need to be told when we're doing well just as much as we need the attention that allows that interaction. So together, attention and validation are Extremely powerful needs/forces in our society. Together, they mold and define social behavior of individuals and our interactions.
i saved the most important basic human need for last because we typically confuse it with sex. Both men and women confuse our need for intimacy with sex. Men believe their sex drive is the most powerful thing in their lives. Growing up male has shown me this. Fighting this drive is pointless not because it's natural (which it is) but mainly because it's rooted in our deeper need for intimacy. We deeply viscerally need to be close to other human beings. It seems to be our primary need as human beings. Marriage, sibling, and parent-child relationships are the most powerful relationships on the planet. Why? Because of their level of intimacy. We are closest to our mates, siblings, children, and parents because we've let them into our hearts. Imagine your heart like a big hotel with many rooms. Our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters all have permanent rooms in that hotel. And if we're lucky enough to have married our soul-mates, then they have permanent rooms as well .. Why are people so passionate making love? Why does it seem so desperate and visceral? Some need for approval and attention is likely in 'the mix' but largely it is our desperate need for intimacy which drives the sex act. We need intimacy like we need air, water, and space to live. The more we pretend we don't need it, the more it forces us to respect and acknowledge it. The human need for intimacy is here to stay - how we deal with it and how we attempt to satisfy it - is for future generations to establish.
Others that are important but not critical to our day-to-day survival:
Self-expression: As i write, i'm acutely aware of our need for self-expression. My late father was an artist and writer; he also had an acute need for self-expression. We need to express our opinion, creativity, individuality, uniqueness,.. - all of our self-characteristics. Watching women express themselves on blogtv, i'm forced to recognize not all activity there is a 'attention fest'. Some legitimate self-expression exists there just as a musician needs to perform their unique talent. A fellow blogtver, likely with far more experience than me, labeled one woman an 'attention whore'. It was funny and seemed appropriate though there is another likely scenario: perhaps she rejected his advances and so he needed to label and dismiss her as 'slutty' (because she did not put-out to him in particular). As i've written before, i feel we must be careful with labels and how we use them because many times we employ them as a defense mechanisms. i could easily label all women on blogtv as 'attention whores' but that's unfair. We all need attention. It's a primary human need. How we deal with that need - makes us appear: sleazy, needy, weak,.. i will address this later.
Need-to-understand: There's an excellent video about a new experiment at Fermilab. The URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AuxyzKZoTA
Human beings seem to have an insatiable curiosity - a desire to understand nature / our environment. Of all our needs, i feel this need in particular is most admirable. Of course, our need for attention, validation, and intimacy can be expressed/accepted as love but this will be addressed later. Our need-to-understand is the root behind all science as curiosity is the source of all exploration. i don't happen to agree with the purpose of the new experiment at Fermilab but we won't know for sure unless we actually Do the experiment. Do we live in a holographic universe or perhaps a simpler 'classical universe'? We won't know unless we perform the experiment. We wouldn't have even designed / thought of the experiment without our collective need-to-understand. So thank God for that!
The whole point of listing out / itemizing our basic human needs is to address how we might go about satisfying them. To me, it's kind of pointless otherwise .. How do we satisfy our need for intimacy? Sexually? Rough and tumble sex? Deep sharing friendship? Anonymously online?
We can find intimacy in the 'oddest' places .. The confessional at church, on the toilet, playing with our pets, at the pool,.. My point of writing this article is one: first be honest with ourselves our ravenous need for intimacy - it's normal, natural, and fully human. Two: be aware of how we satisfy that need. We may do it in 'socially acceptable' ways or not. What is socially acceptable is not necessarily 'right' or 'wrong'. What is socially acceptable in one country/location may not be in another. Further, what's socially acceptable at one time in history (of a country/location) changes over time. (Thank God for true progress.) ^^ So we need to be fully aware and respect intimacy as a valid enduring healthy human need. How we attempt to satisfy that need is addressed next.
We may seek intimacy in self-destructive modes/ways. These are avoidable and controllable. We may think we like sadism because 'we enjoy pain' but this is (an example of) mental acrobatics we perform to pretend security and 'wisdom' when it truly is self-deception. No one actually enjoys pain or self-destruction. We have the illusion of temporary endorphins but these are the same produced when seeing a long-lost friend. If we associate bliss with pain, it's the same kind of sickness / mental illness a person performs when they torture an animal. In this case i'm not calling it ab-normal; i'm calling it Wrong. Torture an animal = self-inflicted pain = both wrong. So we repeatedly get into abusive relationships because we 'don't deserve better'? That's just as sick / wrong. As you can surmise, i speak from personal experiences .. It's a difficult trap to break out of because so many of our needs listed above are satisfied - even in an abusive relationship.
If a teen-age girl starts 'walking the streets' (hooking) because she 'needs the money' and attention, can we blame her or her customers? Or do we blame society for pushing her into that situation? This is just a guess but i contend everyone is to blame: her parents, herself, her customers, and society in general. If we throw a few guys in jail for statutory rape, that does not solve the real problem. First, we must acknowledge our desperate need for intimacy, validation, and attention. And figure out socially acceptable ways to satisfy those needs. Then when those mechanisms fail, then we start putting people in prison but only then. We must do the groundwork of laying the foundation, in our society, of satisfying basic human needs first and foremost.
Priests sexually abusing boys, teachers having sex with their students, step-fathers raping their step-daughters,.. You hear stories like these almost daily. It's not perverse men committing these crimes. It's society committing them indirectly by not directly addressing our basic human needs .. Push it off onto family or mate? Some men in their 30s have not even had a girlfriend. Is it a problem of attractiveness? Or 'playing the game'? Or again perhaps our general neglect of basic human needs?
If our society (all societies around the world) truly focused on satisfying basic human needs for all individuals, we'd have much less: sexual abuse, illicit sex, rape, and i argue - even substance abuse because even those are many times attempts to fill holes in our lives .. The same holes left from not getting our basic human needs satisfied.
Let me get real explicit because this is all kind of meaningless unless i do .. As hinted above, i'm in an abusive relationship. Some years ago, i was repeatedly beaten physically to the point of losing my hearing in my left ear .. For many different reasons, i endured it: stoicism, 'true love', proof to myself i was patient,.. The list goes on and on ad nauseum. But it's all really rationalization. When i get tired of that, i drink beer. It helps me forget. It helps me pretend, if only for a short moment, i'm worthy of true-love. i try my best not to provoke her. i try my best not to give back to her or others her: indifference, coldness, apathy, sarcasm, and pure hate .. Over the years, the physical abuse transformed into emotional and verbal abuse. ^^ And we live in a kind of 'stalemate' (no one wins; no one loses) but we both are losing in actuality. We have a son together and he's the only reason i endure her shit presently .. Please get this straight: i'm not asking for pity, sympathy, or even compassion. All i'm asking for at this point is understanding what kinds of mental and emotional gymnastics we all perform on a daily basis to 'keep the ship floating'. ^^ We All would be better off: recognizing what our basic human needs are and then trying to find reasonable ways to satisfy them.
.. i met a few very interesting individuals on blogtv recently .. But frequently the girls are in denial about why they're even there .. They cannot even seem to recognize what needs they're attempting to satisfy by going there .. It's sad .. We're all human, we all have basic needs which i've tried to identify above,.. And we all have our own unique ways to attempt to satisfy those needs .. Hopefully society will progress in: honesty, acknowledgement, respect, and mutual satisfaction of those needs .. i will try my best to live with integrity and respect of our needs and elevating interactions (those activities which raise our collective awareness and 'right to survive').
.. For we must earn that right. That much is clear.