Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a brilliant thinker, ahead of his time.
His “Hierarchy of needs”, a theory he enunciated in the 1940s -usually shown as a pyramid with various layers- must be one of the most emblematic tenets of the marketing & advertising canon.*
It encapsulates so much with so little.
Simple and succinct yet deeply insightful and full of conceptual tension.
Just glancing at it absentmindedly leaves you thinking, like only the best advertising executions do.
Dr. Maslow must’ve singlehandedly and inadvertently created the “strategic planner” job description.
However, his prognosis has not aged well and must be revisited.
The upper layer of his pyramid did not come to be.
He called it “self-actualization” in the belief that freedom from want would eventually turn us all into artists, scientists, intellectuals, philosophers.
Problem is, dude was too optimistic, too invested in the sunny side of life.
A little cynicism would’ve done him good.
Maslow expected fort the super ego to take over.
Unfortunately, the id didn’t go down without a fight.**
He didn’t foresee the folly, petty appetites and insatiable immaturity that tend to take over once a human being’s basic needs are covered.
Freedom from want seems to stunt the emotional growth of an awful lot of the best of us.
Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day.
Give someone freedom from want and he or she might turn into an insufferable child.
The enormous prosperity and abundance that consumer capitalism brought along has shown an exasperating side effect after all.
Not sure if it is causality or correlation but the norm of consumer capitalism seems to be that of adolescents behaving like adults and adults behaving like adolescents.
Neediness, in the most sentimental sense of the word, has a way of sticking around.