Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Transcendence and Belongingness, Part 1

It’s time, once again, to dig into the archives. This is a paper I wrote for one of the first classes I took at Sofia University: Proseminar in Transpersonal and Spiritual Psychology. It took me some time to pick a topic, as there was so much that interested me in the first quarter of graduate school. I eventually settled on making a connection between Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (more specifically, belongingness) and elements of transpersonal psychology. Enjoy!


This paper will give a brief summary of Abraham Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs,’ with a focus on ‘love needs’ – more explicitly – belongingness. There will also be a brief summary of transpersonal psychology. In particular, there will be a description of a transpersonal experience, namely, transcendence. Lastly, there will be connections made showing there are transpersonal elements to belongingness. Specifically, in some variations of transcendence, one feels a sense of belongingness. To begin, we will explore Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Hierarchy of Needs

Before we can understand Maslow’s description of ‘love needs,’ it is important to understand how the ‘love needs’ fit into the bigger picture of needs. According to Maslow (1943), “Human needs arrange themselves in hierarchies of prepotency” (p. 370). The order that Maslow theorized an arrangement of needs was as follows: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization (1943). To start with, we will deepen our understanding of physiological needs.

Physiological needs. According to Maslow (1943), “Physiological needs are the most prepotent of all needs” (p. 373). Meaning, physiological needs are the most basic of all human needs and take precedence over any of the other needs. The physiological needs consist of homeostasis, hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex (Maslow, 1943). Homeostasis is an overarching term that encompasses the four other terms and it means that the human reaches a state of equilibrium or balance. The four other components of physiological needs are all basic needs of a human being to survive. A human must eat and drink in order to survive, just as the human must sleep and reproduce by way of sex to survive. We have a basic understanding of the physiological needs, so we will now deepen our understanding of safety needs.

Safety needs. According to Maslow (1943), “If the physiological needs are relatively well gratified, there then emerges a new set of needs, which we may categorize roughly as the safety needs” (p. 376). Meaning, the physiological needs are the fundamental needs of a human and once those needs are satisfied, the next set of needs is most important – safety needs. The best way to characterize the safety needs is “[the human] seems to want a predictable, orderly world” (Maslow, 1943, p. 377). This predictable and orderly world is part of all aspects of the human’s life. The safety needs consist of security of employment, security of their person including their physical body and health, security of fairness, and security of shelter (Maslow, 1943). Security of employment is in reference to one’s job or vocation. Security of one’s person includes their physical body and health, which refers to one being healthy and not being in any danger from predators. Security of fairness refers to an orderly and predictable world. Security of shelter is a way of keeping one’s person safe and healthy. We have a basic understanding of physiological needs and safety needs, so we will now deepen our understanding of love needs.

Love needs. According to Maslow (1943), “If both physiological and the safety needs are fairly well gratified, then there will emerge the love and affection and belongingness needs” (p. 380). As we learned earlier, the needs occur in a systematic way such that the primary needs are met before the human seeks other needs. The love needs consist of a desire for friends, a desire for a husband or wife, and a desire for children (Maslow, 1943). It is important to note that the word love is not synonymous with sex, as sexual needs seem to be more apparent in physiological needs (Maslow, 1943). As stated by Maslow (1943), “The love needs involve both giving and receiving love” (p. 381). At this stage of one’s needs, they have a desire to give and receive love to their friends and family, if they have family. It is important that the human form social bonds or relationships with friends in order for it to be possible for them to fulfill the love needs. We have an understanding of physiological needs, safety needs, and love needs, so we will now deepen our understanding of esteem needs.

Esteem needs. According to Maslow (1943), “All people in our society . . . have a need or desire for a stable . . . high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others” (p. 381). Maslow differentiates the esteem needs into two categories: achievement and reputation (1943). Within the achievement category, the human strives for achievement by doing and accomplishing objectives. Within the reputation category, the human strives for reputation by gaining the respect and esteem of other people. Both of these categories are part of the human’s desire for self-esteem, self-respect, and respect by others, which make up the esteem needs (Maslow, 1943). If the person is able to achieve and gain a reasonable reputation, then they will be able to attain their esteem needs. We have an understanding of physiological needs, safety needs, love needs, and esteem needs, so now we will deepen our understanding of self-actualization needs.

Self-actualization needs. According to Maslow (1943), “[Self-actualization] refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially” (p. 382). Meaning, a painter must paint, a musician must play music, a writer must write, and an athlete must play sports (Maslow, 1943). Self-actualization needs consist of the human “becoming everything that one is capable of becoming” (Maslow, 1943, p. 382). Someone who is capable of becoming a graduate school professor, but instead settles for being a preschool teacher would not likely be someone who is characterized as fulfilling his or her self-actualization needs. We have explored Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and learned that there are five sets of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. Within this section, we have gained a greater understanding of the hierarchy of needs. In the next section, we will look at one of the love needs in further detail – belongingness.


Check back tomorrow for the sections on belongingness, transpersonal psychology, and transpersonal experiences.

Published by Jeremiah Stanghini

Jeremiah's primary aim is to provide readers with a new perspective. In the same vein as the "Blind Men and the Elephant," it can be difficult to know when one is looking at the big picture or if one is simply looking at a 'tusk' or a 'leg.' He writes on a variety of topics: psychology, business, science, entertainment, politics, history, etc.

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