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Discussion questions

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a. Consider the artist Pablo Picasso, who would become so involved in painting that he did not eat, sleep, or associate with others for days at a time. At other times, he was driven by public adoration, wanting to outdo his rival, Matisse. How do these events compare to Maslow’s theory that basic motives must be satisfied before those farther up the hierarchy?
Maslow’s hierarchy of need maintains that there are five levels of need that humans require and that each level has a priority over the next. The basic breakdown is basic need, security, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. According to Maslow, “ each level of need must be satisfied before an individual is ready to strive for satisfaction of the next higher level of need.”(Milliken, 1998) The drive for achievement has often overridden the drive for basic needs. Sometimes in a neglectful manner, as with Picasso’s need to create making him forget all other needs, or sometimes it is done with purpose in order to achieve a goal that satisfies one of the other needs. The artistic mind will focus so intently on its creation that all other needs are forgotten in the pursuit of the expression that is hoped to be expressed. The question then becomes, is the focus of the artist able to classify him or her as mentally healthy, or by virtue of the all consuming focus is mental illness present? Achievement does not always indicate good mental health.
With the presumption that Maslow’s hierarchy is an example of a healthy mind, then ignoring basic physical and social needs that should come before the priority of creativity would indicate mental disability. However, not only an artist might forget to eat or sleep. Many professions might preclude the needs of the body for the need to accomplish a goal. A scientist on the verge of discovery could easily forget to eat or sleep while focusing on that goal. Any goal that has priority in the mind of the one who is hoping to achieve that goal might interfere with the basic needs. To ignore the D-needs, or deficiency needs in favor of the needs at the self-actualization level is a situation that comes from a the concept of drive. That drive that compels those of great talent or intellect to pursue the focus of that gift is not included in the conceptual idea of Maslow’s theory.
The concept of higher purpose is also not taken into consideration in Maslow’s theory. Sacrifice for a greater need often will be taken by an individual who believes that the purpose of their actions out way the basic needs of the first level, or of any level that impedes the progress towards a goal.
There is one other way to interpret Picasso’s habits. It could be that he had such a strong presumption that the first four needs could be fulfilled when he needed them to be fulfilled that he could unconsciously embrace that security in order to focus on his self-actualization. As well, it is consistent with his drive to out do his rival, Matisse, that he could compartmentalize his active seeking of needs when he chose to indulge them. Still, this all represents a confusion of the order in these levels and suggests that the hierarchy lacks the flexibility that is needed to truly examine the human motivations for behavior.
b. To what extent do you agree with drive reduction theory as an explanation of motivation for human behavior? Provide examples of the parts of your daily routine that fit with this theory.
Drive reduction theory proposes that as humans, we are driven to certain actions and those drives are reduced when that need is fulfilled. To a certain extent, drive reduction theory is a valid way of defining the way in which needs are satisfied throughout a day. As one grows hungry, food must be consumed to reduce the drive to eat. As one grows tired, sleep must be undertaken to ease that drive. Physiological needs that maintain existence are fulfilled by motivational drives that are biologically controlled and stimulated when those needs are present. Even certain cravings for types of sustenance can be theoretically attributed to the need for certain types of fulfillments. When the body needs water, we thirst and although one might choose a different beverage, the drive to hydrate may still need to be satisfied by taking water as well.
As with Maslow’s theories, this theory doesn’t leave much in the way of the presence of will within the human mind. The biological drives that create hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc. can be subverted by the will to reach a goal that might be contrary to those needs. While some of these needs can only be postponed, some may be contradicted purposefully and sustained in a state of control. Those who postpone the need to mate, for instance, past the time when biology creates the urge to procreate – or even those who never give into that need, such as members of the Catholic clergy, use the will to subvert the drive.
Throughout the day I have determined a schedule for when I eat and what type of foods will satisfy my needs at those times. I have an approximate bedtime that fulfills my need for sleep. The routines that I have devised in order to accomplish my goals include routines that fulfill the needs that will interfere with my ability to accomplish those goals should I not get those needs fulfilled. For instance, should I fail to eat, I will not be able to think as clearly and will not be able to finish the work that I need to accomplish.

Works Cited
Milliken, M. E. (1998). Understanding Human Behavior A Guide for Health Care Providers. Albany: Delmar.

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