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Basic needs of the psyche

The debate surrounding people’s basic needs is long, muddled, confusing and inconsistent. It is hardly possible to work through all the literature on the subject.

At a metatheoretical level, though, one can ultimately identify three basic emotional and psychological needs: the need for bonding, the need for self-determination and the need for self-esteem. Within the context of this theory no conclusions can be drawn. Therefore, they need to be demonstrated by their usefulness and their conceptual definition. Many of the present concepts, however, can be described, or incorporated within this model once they are uncoupled from other concepts and focus areas.

The most important point in theoretical terms is that each of the three needs given above is considered polar and procedural in itself: bonding as the regulation of proximity AND distance, self-determination as the regulation of freedom AND security and self-esteem as the regulation of individuality AND belonging.

In this psychological approach, therefore, satisfying a need cannot generate good feelings without also paying the price of (temporarily) frustrating the polar opposite need. This is why, when we wish to feel comfortable with ourselves and others, we need not only the ability to enjoy, but also the competence to regulate along with a capacity for tension and frustration.

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