More About Human Givens

The law of all living organisms is that we must take in nutrients from our environment in order to constantly maintain and rebuild ourselves.

While some of those needs are physical, such as air to breathe, water to drink, food and shelter, others are our emotional needs which are equally important if we are to develop as physically and psychologically healthy human beings.


The Fundamental Emotional Needs


Security a safe environment, both at home and at work, which allows us to develop fully

Attention to give and receive it

Autonomy the ability to make choices in our lives

Intimacy to have at least one other person who accepts us, warts and all

Feeling part of a wider community  

Privacy the opportunity to have time to reflect on life

Status to feel valued by the social groups we belong to

A sense of competence and achievement from which comes self-esteem

Meaning which comes from being stretched in what we think and do

The resources nature gave us to help us meet our needs

The ability to develop long term memory – which enables us to add to our innate knowledge and to learn.

The ability to build rapport and connect with others

Emotions and instinct


A conscious rational mind that can question, analyse and plan

The ability to understand the world unconsciously

An observing self – that part of us that can step back and be objective

A dreaming brain

When these emotional needs are not being met in balance, or when our resources (or tools) are misused, such as an overactive imagination, or not used at all, we suffer considerable distress which manifests as a number of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and chronic anger.


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'Therapy always works best when it comes from a real understanding of what it takes to be a human being'