Bullying and “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”: Level 1- Air, Food, Drink, Shelter, Warmth, Sex, Sleep. (Part 1)

In 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote a paper, detailing a five-tiered outline of human needs, which we all have. With each post,I will explain each level in more detail, giving examples of it’s relation to bullying. As we know, when a person is targeted by bullies, they are denied many of the needs listed in the hierarchy…needs, which are essential for growth and development (physical, psychological and emotional).

Level 1. Biological and Physiological – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.

Level 2. Safety – protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, freedom from fear.

Level 3. Love and belongingness – trust ,acceptance, affection being part of a group (family, friends, work).

Level 4. Esteem – achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.

Level 5. Self-Actualization – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.


Level 1. Biological and Physiological – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.

A. Air- a physical bully may place the victim in a choke hold, therefore cutting off the person’s air supply, denying them adequate air supply.

B. Food/Drink- a bully may force the victim to hand over his/her lunch money, with threats of physical violence for failure to comply. No student wants to be physically assaulted, so they often hand over the money just to keep from getting hurt and it’s usually an everyday occurrence. These kids end up having to starve just to be safe…denial of nutrition and hydration.

C. Shelter/Warmth- I was lucky to have a family, which were and still are close knit, so I never went without shelter or warmth. However, I have heard stories of family bullies locking their victims out of the house just for kicks or for a perceived slight. Therefore, the bully denies the victim shelter and warmth.

D. Sex- This is a big one! Most bully victims have been stripped of a once good reputation and their reputations with the opposite sex are no less tarnished. A victim of bullying can find it difficult to get a date due to being targeted by relational bullies, who spew their venom by way of rumors, lies, and humiliating the victim in front of others, which is all designed to keep the victim isolated. The bully, in essence, denies the victim opportunities for dating, love and sex.

E. Sleep- Victims of bullying often have difficulty sleeping, due to being in constant fight or flight mode, or worried about what the next day will bring…possibly more bullying. Therefore, the victim is denied adequate sleep.

Tomorrow, I will discuss Level 2 and it’s relation to bullying.
(to be continued…)

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