Oedipus the King and Maslow's Pyramid
People have long considered general theories of motivation, and the question regarding the specific motives that direct and energize our human behavior has undergone tremendous speculation. To this day the question still stands: what is it that humans seek most in life? In an effort to answer this question, Abraham Maslow proposed what he called the hierarchy of needs. Maslow theorizes that human beings are motivated to fulfill this hierarchy, which consists of needs ranging from those that are basic for survival up to those that promote growth and self-enhancement (Kassin 300).
At the base of the hierarchy are the physiological needs of human beings. This level consists of a human's need for food, water, oxygen, sleep, and sex. Homeless people are at this level of the hierarchy because their concern is in obtaining those things necessary for survival. Once an individual has met these needs, they begin to seek steady work, financial security, stability at home, and a predictable environment. This level consists of overachievers and workaholics. People such as this are so concerned with their income that they do not feel that the amount of time they work is sufficient enough. If an individual meets all of these needs, then that person has obtained their general need for safety. Once human beings have obtained safety, they strive to fulfill their social needs. At this level humans concern themselves with affiliation, belongingness and love, affection, close relationships, family ties, and group membership. This is a particularly crucial level because if these needs are not met, then humans feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness and alienation. All the needs for love having been met, an individual seeks social status, respect, recognition, achievement, and power. All of these needs combine to fulfill an individual's need for esteem, and failing to satisfy this need, an individual endures a sense of inferiority and a lack of importance. All human beings are placed at one of these four levels, striving to satisfy the needs at that level. If there comes a time in which an individual has obtained all of the needs on the hierarchy, that person becomes ready, willing, and able to strive for self-actualization. According to Maslow, self-actualization is a distinctly human need to fulfill one's potential. As Maslow himself states, "A musician must make music, and artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is ultimately to be at peace with himself.