The Persistent Needs

The Acute Needs in the Humanistic Needs Approach are survival needs which, if they are insecure, can lead to death in minutes. As such there is little to no individual variability present.1 These are universal needs. The HNA model represents universality with the color red.

Above the Acute Needs2 we find four of the basic needs identified by Abraham Maslow: Physiological, Safety, Community, and Esteem Needs. I refer to these as our Persistent Needs.

The Humanistic Needs Approach Model

The Persistent Needs are treated as pillars, built upon a secure foundation of Acute Needs. The Persistent Needs are composed of both universal and general qualities. Areas of generality are represented in yellow.

The universal quality of the Persistent Needs are survival needs measured in terms of days and weeks. For example, under the heading of Physiological Needs, we can survive for a few weeks without food (assuming we had sufficient reserves of body fat at the outset of our fasted period), approximately a week without sleep3 and only a few days without water. Our safety needs mirror those of our Acute Safety Needs and are distinguished by a decrease in the time sensitivity. An insecure Acute Safety Need is someone pointing a gun at you, an insecure Persistent Safety Need is living in an environment where violence is commonplace – you may not be directly threatened at any given time but you live with the knowledge that your safety is not secure. Our Community and Esteem Needs are tied to our nature as social creatures.4 In an era where anyone can buy calories at a store we can survive without a robust sense of belonging to a nurturing community, or with self-limiting view of our own worth and ability, but we will not thrive.5

The General quality of our Persistent Needs are not time sensitive – they may never be met and we will survive, and account for a variability that we find naturally and allow for cultural heritage differences. That variability is represented by the wavy boundary between the universal and general qualities of our persistent needs. However, it is in satisfying the General quality of our Persistent Needs that the foundation is laid for thriving.

As with the Acute Needs viewing the real world through the lens of the HNA enables us to evaluate what aspects of our charges Persistent Needs are secure and which are deficient. With this knowledge we can seek opportunities to develop the deficient qualities and maintain the stable ones.

  1. If all models are wrong we need to think of all generalizations as wrong too – there are always outliers. I’m not addressing highly trained free divers when I say that brain death occurs in 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. In the model.
  3. There is no hard number on how long you can survive without sleep however I’ve read estimates ranging from 7 to 11 days in the scientific literature. We know that beyond four days with no effective sleep rational thought and decision making ability is effectively zero.
  4. Matthew Lieberman’s Social: Why our Brains are Wired to Connect is a good popular press starting point on the topic of human social nature.
  5. Of course isolation is a huge factor in suicide so survival isn’t guaranteed.

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