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The need for: Safety

 

Explanations > Needs > Safety

Probable harm | Physical safety | Psychological safetySo what?

 

A basic need that we all have is for a sense of safety. If we are not safe, then we can forget everything we are trying to do. Maslow has safety as a very fundamental need.

Probable harm

We constantly predict the future in order to help decide what we should do next and also over the longer term. When we predict that we are likely to come to some harm then we feel unsafe. The greater the potential harm and the greater the likelihood of this happening, the more unsafe we feel.

Physical safety

Physical safety means freedom from physical harm. Such harm can come from other people, such as when a mugger threatens us, or it can come from the environment, such as when we are standing in a burning building.

When other people threaten us, we are likely to respond with a Fight-or-Flight reaction.

Psychological safety

Although Maslow does not highlight this, we can feel just as unsafe when faced with the taunts of our peers as we do when faced with the knife of a mugger. Psychological safety is, of course, 'all in the mind', and this intangible nature can make it difficult to handle. It can also be difficult to make the decision as to whether the threat is intended and real or not.

We can also psychologically threaten ourselves, as that little voice in side berates us for our wrong-doings. We cannot get away from the repeated self-harming cycles of recurring memories or future projections and much psychotherapy is designed to stop us from continuing to harm ourselves.

So what?

Distract them from higher-order needs by threatening their safety. Or be their friend by offering them safety and  when they appear to be threatened.

See also

Maslow's Hierarchy

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