The Maslow hierarchy of parasites

What do you need?

Abraham Maslow, the great humanistic psychologist recognized the hierarchy of needs. The basic idea is that humans have different needs that are organized in a hierarchy. When one human need is fulfilled, the next level of needs surface and motivates the person to fulfil it. So needs are like a moving diagram. People's needs change and evolve. At the very bottom of the ladder there are physiological needs and at the top – self-actualization. Over time Maslow recognized that some people "skip" steps in the hierarchy and go directly to the top.

This has become a universal model for human motivation and is used as such by anyone who ever studied psychology, sociology and organizational development.

I know and appreciate this model and its usefulness for many years. I have been working with it with thousands of executives and managers. Over time I realized that for many people these are not needs but they go far beyond and become fears of not fulfilling the needs.

Those fears drive people in the extreme and cause them to behave in ways that range from unproductive all the way to sheer madness.

A fear is always not about the current reality, but about what might happen in the future. If one is hungry they have a physiological need here and now that drives them to get a decent meal. It is different when someone is not hungry but has the fear of what might happen if they will be hungry tomorrow. It is not anymore a need as recognized by Maslow but a fear that starts to consume the person.

It is like hope, which is also usually not about the current state of affairs but always about the shape of things to come. Both relate to human mind projections on the linear time line.

Therefore fear is always imaginary and is hidden in the mind of the sufferer, unseen to others. There, in the inner darkness it lurks and grows like parasite and feeds upon the person.

The parasites feed upon their host and derange their energy, joy of life and sometimes their will to live. They belittle people and make them much smaller than what they could have been.

From my experience I could recognize the 5 parasites that correlate to Maslow's ladder of needs.


Physiological parasites – people who have a fear of not being able to obtain food or shelter will go to the extreme to feed this fear even on the expense of killing or robbing other people.

History is littered with wars between individuals, families, tribes and nations driven by the fear of not being able to provide physiological needs in the future.

Safety parasites – the fear of not being safe in some future time drives peoples' behavior dramatically. The whole insurance industry is based on this fear. The whole pension industry is flourishing feeding on this fear. The majority of people work in jobs they do not like and that are not suitable for them just to feed this parasite. The fear of "what will be my safety" in 30 years' time sometimes drives the whole career and life of a person. I believe many marriages are driven by this fear of "who will take care of me when I am old?" into many years of mutual unhappiness.

Belonging parasites – what would most people do in order to feed the parasite of "not belonging"? Young people will go through humiliating gang rituals to belong. People will smoke unwillingly; have sex with partners they do not like, drink in parties just to belong. People "must" belong to certain club, fraternity and other exclusive "belonging" casts. Young people who feel not belonging on social media might commit suicides, and many other situations you can think of. So, this fear of not belonging, especially in the formative years of peoples' development can take individuals to very extreme behaviors just to feed this monster inside.

Esteem parasites – "I will not be recognized" is a powerful fear for many. It causes people to spend on expensive cars, status symbols, fancy offices and can actually make them work for this parasite as a lifelong labor. The comparison to others who seem to succeed in some particular more than ourselves is the paradigm on which this parasite flourishes. It also sustains endless industries of luxury products and brands that come to quench the thirst of "am I seen to be as unique and special as I want to be?'

Self-actualization parasites – the fear of not actualizing oneself and wasting one's time in pursuit of unworthy causes and goals is in the top of the hierarchy. "I will not leave a worthy legacy" kind of fear drove many megalomaniac projects throughout history. This is where fear can be transformed into a catalyst of search that actually allows a person a true journey of self-discovery and contribution.

However often it stays only as a fear of not fulfilling oneself which is a very self-consuming parasite.

Regrets tend to arise from this source of fears.

So then, how about living in the now with no fears about what might happen later?

How about not feeding these parasites and instead spending all this Hugh energy for growth, development, creativity and contribution?

How will the world and the human race look like if people were free from all these debilitating fears that control their days and behaviors?

If there is a worthy human journey it is the journey beyond the boundaries of fear into the life of freedom, creativity and joy.

Aviad Goz

Azuero hills Panama

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