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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging needs (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization.

Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up.


Physiological needs:

This is what a lot of emergency preparedness products focus on, with forums, blogs, etc following the same formula.  

Without these basic physiological needs met, you cannot really go onto the next level in the need hierarchy- no food to eat means that in a couple of days, you will have a much harder time taking care of yourself.    

Essential medications can also fall under this list, (Asthmatics having an inhaler, or a diabetic having insulin).

Safety needs:

The next level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is self-security and safety needs.



This is the level that a lot of the extreme preppers stick at.  The extreme preppers always seem to be worried about hordes of people coming to kill them so their human motivation is safety and security.    

There is also a line to be drawn between mental/emotional security, and physical, and while both are important, and there are ways to prep for both, most people focus on physical safety without thinking about their mental or emotional state.

Belonging and love needs:

Abraham Maslow labeled psychological needs as the third level of basic human needs. These are commonly known as the belonging and love needs

Intimate relationships


Social needs

Sense of belongingness    

Having a community to fall back on in time of disaster has been one of the most effective ways of handling it.    

In the past, the sheer number of groups that have survived major disasters, be they natural like an earthquake, man made like economic crashes, or some mix like a plague is almost insane.  These social groups survived for one reason – because they came together in groups.  The sheer capability of people working together and having ties overwhelms anything you as a person can do on your own.   

On a personal note, if you have a significant other or spouse, your ability to prepare for an emergency is immensely higher with them on your side that you cannot imagine how different it is.

Esteem Needs:

The fourth level up in Maslow’s theory of human motivation is esteem needs.


Feeling of accomplishment



Personal growth

Most preppers don’t actually ignore these esteem needs; they just don’t address them productively. 

If you have ever seen someone talk about their food stores, or how they can take nothing but a pocket knife and live in the wilderness for three months straight, or how they have some special cabin in the woods, they are seeking to fulfil this level for themselves.    

If you can address this level usefully, it can build you and others.  By knowing what you need to do to accomplish this, you can make a massive difference in your ability to motivate yourself (or other human beings)in all sorts of things. Esteem needs are less urgent, but not unimportant compared to levels below, and by addressing these needs when there is not an emergency, you can be more effective when an emergency happens.


The fifth and final level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is self-actualization

Achieving your full potential, including creative activities

Knowing your motivation and personality

Something that is rarely addressed is the fact that in a long term disaster, humans will rise to the top and still do things like creating beautiful works of art and poetry, even in the middle of starvation in a prison camp.    

There is something deep in the human soul that apparently is not satisfied without self-actualization and creativity so if you want to be ready for long term disasters, you will need to address this.

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