MR D NIGER! That was one of the very first codings I had to memorize in other to pass exams. The characteristics of living beings: M for movement; R for respiration. D for… Hmm can’t exactly remember what it was for! Was it death? Well, whatever. I want to introduce you to one other basic characteristic cum need of all human beings.
I love psychology. It has always fascinated me. The attempts of man to unravel the mysteries of the mind. The quest to determine what makes us what we are. The quest to explain. Some of the theories propounded range from the absurd (and makes you wonder how a scientist can reason like that!) to the profound, from the asinine to the incisive. One of the profound is that of renowned American psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow. Against the trend of his days, rather than studying ill people, he chose to study renowned people like Albert Einstein (E = MC2: so simple, so profound), Jane Addams (1932 Nobel Peace prize laureate), Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of famous U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and achiever by all standards), saying “the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy.”
He contended that humans have basic needs and higher needs. That as the basic needs are met, we strive to achieve the higher ones. This is expressed in the pyramid below:
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
The basic concept is that the higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus once all the needs that are lower down in the pyramid are mainly or entirely satisfied. Maslow espoused that once physiological needs are met, we strive for safety needs, and then Love needs and so on. This theory of needs has been espoused and used even in international diplomacy and dispute resolution.
While there are many counter-positions to some fine points in Maslow’s theory, there is a general consensus that human needs go beyond physical. It goes beyond food, shelter, and clothing. My emphasis today is the LOVE need. I believe “L” should be added to MR. D NIGER. We need to be loved!
I don’t care who you are, you want to be loved. It doesn’t matter the façade you put up or the mask you wear. You need to be loved. It is a primal need. It is hot-wired into our frame. It is ingrained into our being.
The human brain is probably the most complex structure in the known universe! It is simply a work of genius. Starting from a microscopic plate of cells, it grows to weigh 1.5kg in the normal adult. The vast majority of this growth occurs after birth. For proper growth to occur there must be love.
A growing body of scientific evidence shows that the way babies are cared for by their mothers will determine not only their emotional development, but the biological development of the child’s brain and central nervous system as well. The nature of love, and how the capacity to love develops, has become the subject of scientific study in recent times.
A major conclusion of developmental neuroscience research is that the infant brain is designed to be moulded by the environment it encounters. In other words, babies are born with a certain set of genetics, but they must be activated by early experience and interaction. The first months of an infant’s life constitute what is known as a critical period – a time when events are imprinted in the nervous system.
Whether it comes from a large social group (clubs, office culture, religious groups, professional organizations, sports teams, gangs) or small social connections (family members, intimate partners, mentors, close colleagues, confidants), we generally need to feel belonging and acceptance. We need to love and be loved (sexually and non-sexually) by others.
We want to be missed when we are not around. I know of many people that have left organizations simply because nobody noticed when they were not around. The power many gangs or cults have over many individuals is that they feel they have acceptance which they believe they don’t have anywhere else.
In the absence of love, we become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and depression. A lack of love and belonging is associated with physical illnesses such as heart disease. Ties to friends, family, work, neighbours and community can all bolster health and happiness. A research carried out with hundreds of students in an American university who were exposed to a cold virus showed that those who had only one to three types of social bonds were four times more likely to develop a cold than those with six or more types.
Also social support appears to prolong life. A Duke University study of 1,400 people with heart disease found that those with a spouse or confidant died at one-third the rate of those who felt isolated. And Dartmouth Medical School researchers noted that participation in church or civic activities extended the lives of open-heart surgery patients.
Other studies have since confirmed that social isolation increases the risk of early death up to five times. Connection is now seen as the foundation of health.
You need to be loved! Loving will prolong you life. I am sure you have seen where a husband dies and a few weeks later the wife mysteriously dies. My dear, it is not the work of a witch or jazz! It is love at work.
Show love today. Smile at someone. Tell your wife how much your love her. No more just grunting and frowning all over the house. Help her with the plates. Give your kid a kiss. Give an unexpected gift. Keep a birthday dairy and surprise that friend with perhaps just a call on the birthday he thinks everybody has forgotten. You will add quality and quantity to their life and yours! You will enjoy what is called the “helper’s high”. Your brain will reward you with a lovely feeling.
As usual will love to hear from you.