First Some Stuff, then Deep Thoughts on a Pyramid

Posted: November 6, 2008 in Deep Thoughts

I voted, and the things I wanted came to pass.  If you disagree with me, fine.  We can still be friends, so long as no one starts a fight about it.  I’ve gotten a handle on my Stumbleupon addiction, and I think I’m going to try a MWF blog schedule.  I know I don’t have enough of a readership to make that matter, but it would be good exercise for my brain and fingers.  Who knows?  Maybe I can expand the appeal of my little corner of the series of tubes.

Now for some deep thought.

I spent quite a bit of time talking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs today.

The conversation started with crossdressers, and moved into the meaning of
life.  We were talking about the spiritual ramifications of men dressing
as women, and the motivations behind alternate presentations of gender.
Hopefully, you can follow that.  It makes sense to me.

Anyway, we arrived at the question of where hope falls in that pyramid.
The Nazis (Godwin’s Law already? Sheesh!) broke the spirits of Jews in the
concentration camps and so those Jews just gave up and died.  My friend
and I decided that that was evidence enough for casual conversation that hope
is a necessary ingredient for life.  That might put it at the very bottom
of the pyramid except that, strictly speaking, hope is not part of our
physiology.   I’m not sure where
exactly hope fits, but it’s got to be down there in the lower levels
somewhere.  If it were me, I’d cheat and
run another bar up the side and put hope in that.  (If that doesn’t make sense, you didn’t click my link.)

Ok, so the point of the above ramble is that eventually my
friend and I got to talking about a saint who was being roasted on a spit by
the Romans.  I’m no theologian, but he’s
a practicing Catholic and I took his word on this.  He said that this saint took his deadly
torture with good humor, and would tell the men administering the cookout to
turn him because whichever side was done.
The question, then, is how does that kind of thing fit into Maslow’s
pyramid?

Here’s what I came up with.
Based on what I have seen and learned, Maslow’s pyramid works kind of like
a table at a fancy restaurant.  You can
yank the tablecloth out fast enough that nothing falls, but if something isn’t
done to restore the cloth to the table, there’s going to be a mess.  In case that metaphor doesn’t do it for you,
here is the science-y version:  As one
reaches higher on the pyramid, it may come to pass that one of the conditions
lower on the pyramid may be disrupted.
This doesn’t mean that one immediately loses whatever self-actualization
one has achieved.  Depending on the need
that is suddenly lacking, one may have anywhere from 4 minutes to several weeks
to restore order before the pursuit of the higher needs is interrupted.  In addition, while a disruption doesn’t
reverse whatever self-actualization one has reached, other upper-level needs
can be undone by the loss of lower-level stability.  As evidence, I point to the saint.  He suddenly lacks security.  In addition, he lacks hope, which I’m still
counting as a necessary element for basic survival.  He has a firm guarantee (in the form of being
restrained and suspended over a fire) that he is going to die.  That kind of environment doesn’t foster
hope.  I suggest though that he’s reached
the acceptance of facts (he’s going to die), and that perhaps spiritual
enlightenment fits in the top of the pyramid.
Sure, that part is a squishy bit that doesn’t play well with observable
phenomena, but screw it: psychology is kind of a squishy science anyway.

Now to tie up some loose ends.  How does the saint’s situation tie into the
bit about the tablecloth?  He was quickly
robbed of his ability to fulfill any of the lower level needs, so he was not
going to be able to reach a higher level of self-actualization.  This assumes that there would be something
more that he wanted.  I’m operating on
the assumption that if one does not care to climb higher, one has reached the
top.  Anyway, if he had found himself
with a stay of execution, as it were, he could continue to climb the pyramid
with no loss of the lower level achievements.
Once again, this works on my previous assumptions.  If his situation were to be prolonged, the saint may have regressed in terms of his level of actualization.  My point:  eventually, the position at the top of the pyramid would become unsustainable (in this case, faith could be shaken and eroded).

This all sounded great in my head, but please feel free to
call bullshit.  This might turn into a
Psych paper if I can make it dance properly, and in that case, I’d prefer to
know where the holes are before I turn it in.

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Comments
  1. Heidi says:

    no bullshit….sounds good!!!!

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