Rafed English

The Psychological Needs

Besides his basic physical needs, the human being also possesses a series of psychological needs whose powerful and decisive pressure for satisfaction is so obvious and evident as to be beyond question. If anyone of these needs is not met properly and in a timely manner, it leaves the path of moderation, leading to disruption in the life of the individual and the community and giving rise to painful disorders difficult to remedy.

The scope of man's spiritual needs, contrary to his material needs, is extensive and unlimited, and that is why these urges cannot be easily confined within limits. Although scientific research concerning psychological needs is of recent origin, these needs themselves are not new and are as ancient as man himself.

All individuals do not stand at the same level in respect of their psychological makeup, and it is the non-uniformity of this makeup that makes them different from one another in respect of their ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. No doubt the role of these factors in the success and failure of individuals is much greater than the differences occasioned by social conventions.

One of the basic psychological needs, which is a consequent of man's love of perfection, is his urge to seek honour and respectability. Many of his activities are directed to achieving this purpose, for man cherishes honour and dignity to the same extent that he resents and avoids indignity and dishonour. At times when his honour and position are in jeopardy, he employs all his powers and means to avert this danger and does his utmost to avoid such a crisis. The sense of failure and the anguish felt at the aspect of dishonour are much more unpleasant than the defeat and inadequacy itself and often turn life into a dilemma or a frightsome nightmare.

The feeling of humiliation creates a terrible storm in some sensitive souls. The world assumes a menacing and absurd countenance in their eyes, and in order to escape its terror and torment they may even be led to take refuge in the dark valley of suicide. However, in this way in order to get rid of a small setback they surrender to the biggest disgrace and humiliation.

In setbacks that reduce man into a wretched and despondent creature, one should try to find a proper and wholesome way of confronting the situation. The rational way is to channel one's capacities in a proper direction and affirm one's personal worth by pursuing a course of action for which one has a special talent. In this way one can restore emotional balance and recover one's lost personal equilibrium. By compensating for one's inadequacies one can build a life of highest self-respect and self-reliance.

The urge for self-respect, which has been implanted in human nature by the Creator, starts manifesting itself in various forms right from infancy and earlier than other spiritual qualities. The sensitive heart of a child needs love and affection and is eager to receive attention. By nature he expects to receive the maximum attention from those around him and cannot bear to share it with someone else. When another baby is born in the family and receives the greater part of the mother's attention, she cannot find the time to give the attention she gave earlier to her elder child. The latter reacts violently to the presence of the newcomer and views him with resentment and consternation. If the child feels deprived, wronged and unwanted, he may come to harbour a chronic feeling of acute jealousy and envy that manifest as deviant conduct, making him prone to misguidance and deception. There are many children who come to acquire such complexes that make them face many problems in later life.

The rise and fall of nations and their honour or humiliation depends on their spiritual state and qualities, which ultimately depend on their ways of thinking and behaving. Such personal qualities as spiritual merit and pure sentiments are not by any means comparable to other advantages that one may acquire through life such as wealth and social status. It is a fact that the inner causes play a greater role in creating real honour than outward means, for real honour and happiness and dishonour and wretchedness are subject to inner life, although unthinking persons consider the differences of social status as the real factor behind the diverse degrees of respectability.

Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"

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