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Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow, born April 1, 1908, was a psychologist who offered a theory called the "Hierarchy of Needs."
He stated that all the needs of a human being could be grouped into five different layers, each layer being sorted by it's importance to our survival and happiness.

The Physiological Needs
        Food, Air, Water, Avoiding Pain, Sex...etc.

The Safety and Security Needs
        Shelter, Stability, Protection

The Love and Belonging Needs
        Romance, Family, Children, Avoiding Loneliness

The Esteem Needs
the respect of others, fame, glory, reputation, confidence, achievement, freedom...etc.

The Self-Actualization Needs
        "Be All That You Can Be," "Becoming the Fullest"

He then also stated that we fulfill these needs in order of importance. In other words, we will not try to fulfill a need on any layer if there is an unfulfilled need on a more vital layer. For example, if we are starving (a physiological need) but are also lonely (a love and belonging need) we will tend to the need that is most important for our survival first. Therefore, we would seek after food before trying to find companionship.
He also stated that all of the needs within any one layer are also ordered according to their importance. For example, if a person is dying of thirst, but is also being physically attacked, the person would naturally deal with the attack before trying to find water.

Under stressful conditions, or when survival is threatened, we can "regress" to a lower need level. When you[r] great career falls flat, you might seek out a little attention. When your family ups and leaves you, it seems that love is again all you ever wanted. When you face chapter eleven after a long and happy life, you suddenly can't think of anything except money.

These things can occur on a society-wide basis as well: When society suddenly flounders, people start clamoring for a strong leader to take over and make things right. When the bombs start falling, they look for safety. When the food stops coming into the stores, their needs become even more basic.

According to Maslow therefore, poverty creates crime. And anything that is responsible for an increase in poverty is also responsible for the crime that accompanies it. One way therefore to deal with the increase in crime is to ease poverty.

The New Deal was probably the first time we saw social problems as not individual but social and approached solutions with social answers (WPA, CCC camps, work projects, social security, etc., etc.) Franklin Roosevelt realized living conditions were related to crime. Posters were even produced to educate the public that eliminating slum conditions was a way to reduce crime. C. Wright Mills knew that individual troubles could often be addressed more effectively by creating social resources. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society came out of a vast amount of sociological research. Politicians were listening to sociologists. They knew poverty was connected to crime. The war on poverty was designed to get to the roots of crime. But the conservatives today have declared war only on individual criminals and we have abandoned attention to social factors.

So, as we look at the change from Judeo/Christian morals towards Nihilism, if the change caused financial stress in our communities, then the change may also be responsible, to some degree, for the increases in crime in those communities.

Jonathan Scott
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